Your Life Is Not Only Yours

On May 20, 2018, while on my way home from New Georgia Estate, I encountered a troubling situation. It was after 9:15 PM and usually at that time, commercial vehicles rarely reach the estate. So, if you wanted to go to Central Monrovia like I wanted to, or other areas, you will have to get in a taxi that runs from the Estate to the Gardnersville Junction, and then find any means of transportation to take you to your destination. Fortunately, when I got to New Georgia Junction, I saw a taxi, and the driver shouted, “In town!? In town!?” referring to Central Monrovia, which was precisely where I was headed so I quickly hopped in.

People were loitering around where the taxis stopped, but I didn’t pay any attention to them. I luckily found a car, so all I wanted to do was secure a seat to get home. Two passengers were in the vehicle when I got in (one person in the front and another in the back).  After I got in, a lady and a guy quickly followed, making us to four in the back. As we were about to leave, a car, trying to circumvent the traffic, left its lane and immediately got stuck right in front of us. This made our driver very furious, so he held his head out of the window and shouted at the illegal driver, “wehkinda (which kind of) nonsense you on so?”

As the driver apologized and tried  to free the way, two guys walked over to our driver’s side of the car and started raining insults on him: “stupid driver, la you wrong (you are the one who is wrong), get your stupid seh (self) from here.” Our driver started to argue with the guys. At this point, we were all completely focused on our driver’s side of the car. Our attention was interrupted when I felt someone attempting to grab my phone from my hands through the opposite side of the vehicle. Since I was the second person from the driver’s side, it was difficult to pick a phone from someone in my position while standing on the opposite side of the car – the passenger side. Fortunately for me, after he made an attempt, my phone fell between the legs of the lady next to me. There was also a guy standing at the front seat door, too. Suddenly, all the guys (the two guys who were arguing with the driver, the guy who wanted to snatch my phone, and the guy at the front seat) started to walk away together. It was then that we realized that they were all criminals. We began to check ourselves to see if the thieves took any of our possessions. Thankfully, the only thing stolen was the driver’s USB drive used to play music in the car.

As we drove off, I felt compelled to revisit a certain perception that I have been living with almost all my life that says “your life is affected negatively or positively by the decisions you make daily.”

Now, here was a bunch of guys who, like everyone else, at some point in their lives, made some bad decisions. And since they have been unable to realize and rectify those decisions, they were out in the streets, and their lives were gradually fading away. Interestingly, I pondered, are their decisions affecting only them? I too, being a flawed man, have made some bad choices. But thanks to God and the strong hands I was raised with, I have been made to understand the general difference between right and wrong and the consequences thereof. But my phone was nearly snatched by a guy whose decisions seem to be entirely different from mine. The driver, too, was affected (loss his pen drive and all his music on it) by the decisions the guy (who stole the pen drive) made about his own life. We were being affected by decisions we had no knowledge, input or approval of. It was at the point that I realized that the perception needed an upgrade and so I came up with “your life AND THOSE AROUND YOU are affected negatively or positively by the decisions you make daily.”

Imagine the impact a team suffers when a single vital member is in some way incapacitated. Imagine the impact an entire class suffers when an instructor is unprepared. Our lives are like a food web, we dependently need each other to survive.

If you live with a younger sibling or relative, you will notice that they will start to imitate you in every way possible. The way you talk, the things you say, the gestures you make, etc. A man once told me that suicide affects so many people other than the actual suicide victim. And it is true. I am a very big fan of Simon Sinek. He is so inspiring and full of life. The talks and beliefs he shares are some of the reasons I don’t give up on myself, my dreams and my relationships with people. But as inspiring and motivational as Simon is, he isn’t flawless. Imagine me waking up one day to the news that Simon Sinek committed suicide, leaving a note about how he was faced with an “unsolvable” problem that he felt he couldn’t overcome thereby, rendering life unbearable.

Do you know how hard that will hit me? It is like a child watching his/her parents cry because they are hungry. That child will feel empty and lost. I will feel unsure and uneasy about myself. I will have thoughts like if he (Simon) who inspires me to keep moving on can give up, what about fragile me? If those responsible to feed me are hungry and crying, then there’s no hope for me. That’s how hard other people’s decision can hunt and hurt us. And most times we barely notice the impacts we have on people either because we don’t directly interact with them or because they don’t tell us about them. These impacts are real.

Your life is not only yours. And since our actions affect not only us but also those around us, I think it is about time that we thoroughly review our decisions before we make them. We need to stop stigmatizing people for their mistakes and try to help them realize and rectify those mistakes. We have to be selfless. We have to listen to people and be supportive of their cause(s). We also need to avoid being egoistic when we make decisions because we “think” they wouldn’t affect us. We have to live meaningfully and help others because like James Keller once said “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle” and I think it loses something when it doesn’t – the candle melts, restoring darkness to the unlighted candle and its surrounding.

 

Authored by Jay Hoff 

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