By Patrick Paul
As I was in that Well the greatest thing I wished for was for The Almighty to give me a second shot at life. I stared at death face to face as I said my last prayer and waited for Mr Death to lead me on safely to the other side, and without any hope of my body ever being found. But somehow I cheated death and lived to tell the story. Optimism saved my life.
I grew up in the twin city of Warri, South-South Nigeria, at a time when many part of the city were undergoing massive development. We resided in Effurun somewhere between the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun GRA and the old Ovie Palace road. I had gone in search for a particular species of plant to be used for a Junior Secondary Agricultural Science practical. Those days in Warri, the major source of water is Well water and because development is springing up in various part of the city, most housing projects use this source of water for building purposes. And when the builders exhausted their budget, they just abandoned the projects leaving the open Well behind until such a time they are ready to begin again. It was one of such abandoned building sites over grown with weeds that I had gone into to get the plant. As I entered the premise which was about 30 meters away from the nearby street, I took the first, second, third, fourth and at the fifth step, I suddenly found myself in a different environment and world. Behold, I was deep down in a Well with water. Life stood still for me in that Well. I saw how easily I could have died with no hope of getting out alive. Although, I could hear the footsteps and voices of passers-by some 30 meters away in the street, they could not hear me shouting for help down in the Well. Whereas time stood still for me, I could sense that except a miracle happens I was running out of time and running out of time I was. Somehow I survived; at least that’s why you are reading this. Spirits do not write blog post do they? For some reason while I was deep down in the Well, after much struggled, fretting and fear, I suddenly resolved to let go of all these negative emotions and became relaxed as I hung on to life on top of the water, resting my back on the side wall of the Well while supporting myself with my almost paralysed legs to the other wall. I was optimistic that the Force, God, Infinite Intelligence or whatever you believe in would get me out of the hole. You know what, a miracle happened and I got out. My relaxed state as well as my optimism caused series of Ideas to flood my mind that got me out. However, you would agree with me that keeping and living the optimistic life is an uphill task, especially if you live in Africa at large and Nigeria in particular. Where there are no jobs and poverty has forced many to loss their dignity as humans. We have many angry people walking the streets. Anger, tension, doubt and fear are really the causes of hardship and pain in life. These negative emotions form a negative magnetic field around the person who allows and furnishes them in their being. The old Law of Physics says likes attracts, so these negative vices go out into the ethers and attracts more conditions that would bring more pain and hardships into the life of the person. Nevertheless, despite the pain, doubts and hardship, the person can bring harmony, peace and abundance into his/her life by living the optimistic life, thereby attracting good into their lives. Therefore, you can live the optimistic life, but will you?
LEARN THE ART OF GRATTUDE
A grateful heart really abhors hate, anger, fear and doubt. You would think that based on my story above I would always have a grateful heart. Not on your life. The human mind forgets and tends toward ungratefulness. In spite of the gift of life and the opportunity to live again, I make the effort to practice gratitude every day. Years later after I survived from that Well, I followed a building contractor to an abandoned building site, such as the one I had gone into. Work was about to begin in the abandoned building site and the surrounding bushes being cleared. Someone drew my attention to a nearby Well similar to the one I had fallen into and asked us to have a look into the Well. When I did, what I saw till date gives me goose pimples. Inside the Well were colonies of Snakes numbering about 25. I was dazed and almost fainted. And several unanswered questions ran through my mind. Why was the Well I fell into with much dense bushes free from a single reptile? Did a giant hand moved all the reptiles before I landed in that Well? Till date I get hysterical when I remember this. I can only stay grateful for the gift of life. Today, no matter what comes up in life I always remain optimistic because I know the final outcome would be for my good.
BELIEVE IN A HIGHER POWER AND TRUST ABSOLUTELY IN IT
There’s a soothing believe when you know that you got your back covered. I am not talking about religion or going to church here, although, this can help boost this absolute trust in God, a higher power or Infinite Intelligence. In my life I have learned to trust absolutely on a loving being who guides, protects and direct me to the highest good. This has given me an avowed confidence and I know I can walk through any challenge and come out unscathed. And I am also given the benefit to understand the causes of most problems, and when the light of understanding flashes into a situation it fades away like a burning candle in the wind. I experienced the peace and miracle that comes in trusting on a higher power some years ago. I visited a friend who was a paratrooper in the Nigerian Army and resided at the 72 Airborne barracks in Makurdi, Benue State in North Central Nigeria then. This was before the advent of GSM Telephone. I met and cultivated a mutual friendship with him when he served at the then 20 Amphibious battalion Warri where I spent my formative years. This friend Bitrus joined the airborne wing of the Nigerian Army and later transferred to the Airborne barracks. After years of not seeing each other he wrote and requested a visit from me, which I gladly accepted and planned for after my upcoming Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE). Unbeknownst to me he had tried to reach me to stop the visit as he was suddenly drafted to Liberia for a rescue mission, even though he just returned from a tour of duty in the ECOMOG peace mission three months earlier. I got to Makurdi in the thick of the night and under a heavy down pour that caused flooding in many part of town and at the barracks. After negotiating my way through the dark and flooded barracks I finally got to Bitrus upstairs block where I discovered he had gone to Liberia on an impromptu mission. The news of his absence destabilised me initially as the thought of where to put up for the night as well as where to get my transportation back to Warri stared me in the face. But, I quickly shoved the fears aside and mop up strength by surrendering my concerns to a higher power. Soon my faith that all would be well became unwavering, but I must say the miracle I sought did not come easily. The barrack was desolate as only a few soldiers, women and children were left. The rest had gone to Liberia or Sierra Leon for peace keeping. However, closer by to Bitrus apartment were three soldiers, I approached them for help but was surprised when I saw they were high with Cannabis and could neither fathom what I was saying nor could I make sense of their gibberish. Frustrated I left them to seek for help elsewhere. To say the least help came in droves. I suspected that my trust and absolute reliance in God or Infinite Intelligence was instrumental to my finding help in abundance that night. I left Makurdi three days later to nearby Cross River State before going back home to Warri.
BE A VOLUNTEER AND FIND A WAY TO SERVE LIFE
When you serve others you remove attention from your problems and put it on helping others. The welfare of those you serve becomes paramount to you. In the Christian Bible, Jesus Christ admonishes his disciples to serve when he said the greatest among you shall be the servant. He stoops low to wash the foot of his disciples, thereby demonstrating the humility that comes from serving others. Serving others helped you removed your attention from your worries, cares and concerns and you immediate becomes relax and happy. People need to purge themselves from greed and self grabbing mentality if they want to be happy. Go out do one good thing for someone every day without expecting reward. Albeit, as a people in this part of the world we are yet to develop the art of true volunteering. Some years ago after I shut down my business for refusing to gain traction, I was Idle and wanted to get busy even if it was to work for free by volunteering my service to someone who needs it. I was rejected in all the places I applied to work as a volunteer, they were cynical and suspected I had an ulterior motives. Most people are used to being inundated by people for one demand or the other. So they couldn’t stomach the fact that somebody is applying to work in their establishment as a volunteer without any financial gratification. Others simply see me as a fraud, while all I wanted was to give service. When you find a better way to become a volunteer and give off of yourself to helping others, you will develop the ability to live the optimistic life, because you will see good everywhere and in every situation. You will attract all you need to live a richer life.