In Yoruba language, life translates to ‘Aye’ and in everyday use, the word aye is often mentioned in the context of disappointment or exasperation and in other situations that denote confoundment, amazement, and surprises. “Aye le”, “Aye AKamara”, “Aye toto”; “Ayefele”. So, in plain English, you hear, “This Life”, or “this odd life” or “This terrible life”.
In my estimation, therefore, “This Life” is neither a straight line nor is it a perfect curve to easily traverse. It comes in different Curves; always of varying Gradients, Cycles and Elasticity. In fact, the race of life comes with or covers different distances, requiring different strategies to cover or conquer, depending on the coping capacity or capabilities of individuals to endure its stress and strains.
In life, there are always hurdles to cross, barriers to crash, pains to endure and price to pay to prevail over its portents. Therefore, those who want to run the race of life as a dash affair often arrive too early, needing greater energy to continue acceleration in top speed and top form especially if they will be blessed with longevity in age. That Is herculean for those who came to power, fame or wealth in their 20s or early 30s. They must always be on a frenetic run if their wealth must last their entire lifetime and be sustained over generations.
The elasticity of life is in varying degrees and dimensions as well. There are those whose lives are infinitely inelastic. Nothing changes for them, no matter the era or clime they live. Like a pond, they are static or stagnant, glued to one spot. Yet, its pure fun for some, very elastic. They have experienced or seen it, tasted all that can be tasted. They ultimately have good stories to tell.
Who do we blame for the fate of those whose life is stunted or zig-zag? So, I begin to see life in different shades. For some, the elasticity is irregular, changing in gradient at some points, stagnating in some areas or proceeding perfectly at some times.
There is also life cycle. But some cycles of life never run their full course before termination while in running their cycles some are extremely slow you will conclude they may never conclude it at any significant point.
Here, I see some whose lives are of pure adventure, filled with fun. In a life of adventures, Bohemians and hedonists mostly thrive. Ajeku laiye, Aye laa se ka to sorun (Life is good to be enjoyed till eternity is their watchword). You find most members of the adventurous club on the fast lane of life caring less about tomorrow. They live for now.
Pole apart from the adventurers are those who have been pummelled or humbled to submission by adversities. Life of adversity is never a life to pray or wish for. It’s a trial and tribulations-filled existence in which those who fate forced into its frame hardly find any favour in life.
Between these two poles of adventures and adversities, I find people who live a life of adulation, or an endearing life. As illustrated in Thesaurus, this has different variants and definitions such as adoration, praise, worship, exaltation, respect, admiration, reverence, idolisation, or glorification. Ironically, like in Pareto Principle only a few does Providence guarantee this inspiring, exemplary life of achievements, emulation or recommendation where the greater percentage of people mere eke out living.
In my further reflection, I find two other variants of life, a Life of Administration and that of Adaptation or Adjustment. By Life of Administration, I mean an ordered, organized or planned life. Administrators need not be rich at all. The thing about them is administrators try to manage their lives, to cope with circumstances, to live within limits, to conform without complaining. They are not so much different from adaptors or those who are able fit to any situation they find themselves, even if sour or sorrowful. Usually, I find these groups among the Stoics. Thesaurus again assisted me in the definition of life of the Stoics. They are enduring, tolerant, patient, usually indifferent, sometimes apathetic, resigned, even passive, the extreme of which they could be fatalist or ascetic as dictionaries can also be unjust to them in defining them as impassive or unfeeling persons.
Whatever the description or definition, I always see life as a maze. Life is truly amazing. Why? Some go through the maze of life almost effortlessly and unaided while others are always at the dead-end at each move, they make in the maze called life. You wonder how crooks are undeservingly successful, escaping the long hands of the law mostly while the conscientious, and the skilful, gifted or intelligent are painfully impoverished or stagnated.
Now, I arrived at a standpoint that the length or distance, the longevity of life is immaterial; rather, it is how and at what station we end the race of life that is of utmost significance.
This is where we must interrogate what a life of victory is and what that of villainy or infamy entails. Either of the classifications of life is to be found in the dignity or integrity with which we live life entirely, the diligence with which we toiled to arrive at our station and the devotion and dedication with which we attend to or follow our life course. This is a question or an issue of conscience which a philosopher described as an open wound that only truth heals.
In this, I found sincerity, faith and conscientious work, rooted in the belief that man will live a wholesome or enriching life only if he realizes that this life is not the ultimate end because there is still another life of accountability. This realization will lead him to live as a Conscious Man, this is a type of life I typify as the life of admonition or the exemplary life from which others can emulate or take lessons of life, a life that is constructed on righteousness, piety and faith in the Creator of Heavens and the Earth.
This life of admonition leads to the awakening of conscience, the pursuit of truth at all times, the enthronement of justice and fairness, the promotion of virtues, battling vices, living abstemiously with contentment in endowment, gratitude for every favour, quickness to rectitude and self-accounting as well as penitence at every infraction, consciously or unconsciously committed.
To the adepts, this is a life of righteousness and consideration for the Afterlife. Yet, to many engrossed with or consumed in This Life, The Other if, the Afterlife is still a mystery, even a mirage and an unfathomable idea about existence. So, they care less about the ultimate Truth and reality that This Life is A Trial. “Adanwo ni aye je”, “Ile aye ogun”. “Jeje laye gba”.
To crash barriers and cross hurdles of life, we must learn to always Calm Down, endure pain and adversities and pay the inescapable price. We must study carefully this maze called life and when the storms of life rage, we must learn patience in vicissitudes to discover where we have been favoured or blessed so that we can learn gratitude, for in the attitude of gratitude in all matters lie the tranquillity most people desire.
This tranquillity, I tell you comes from man’s constant Reflection on creation to discover its essence or purpose and his Remembrance of the Creator to find rest, peace and tranquillity in Him who is the source of peace, provision and prosperity.
Only Men of Understanding can understand this Reality of our existence.
Abdulwarees Solanke is the Deputy Director of Strategic Planning & Corporate Development Department at the Voice of Nigeria.