Sunday, December 19, 2021

Life Lately: What a car accident taught me about living

Seven years ago, I had one of those turning point moments. One minute, I was singing Jaywon’s “we making money, we making money, we making money this year” while driving from Lagos to Ibadan to spend Christmas at home. The next, I was dazed, grabbing the steering for dear life as the car plunged into a ditch, and thinking how sad my family would be if I died.

Thankfully, I didn’t die. The car rammed into a big tree and came to a stop. The seatbelt and all airbags worked as they should, saving my life in the process. Dozens of travellers stopped and scrambled down the ditch to help me get out of the car and stop the engine from smoking. The Federal Road Safety Corps arrived on time and made sure I was well. My friends, Mofe and Loro, who were also on the expressway, drove to the scene to pick me up.

The car was insured for more than it had cost. I had no obvious injuries. I made it home for Christmas with my family. Not much had changed externally, but a lot had changed on the inside.

The accident was the closest I had come to dying. Before that day, there was a vague possibility of death somewhere in my mind, but it wasn’t something I thought could happen to me. As a result, I had fallen deep into what Oliver Burkeman describes as a “future-focused attitude”. In Four Thousand Weeks, he writes: 

“This future-focused attitude often takes the form of what I once heard described as the ‘“when-I-finally” mind’, as in: ‘When I finally get my workload under control/get my candidate elected/find the right romantic partner/sort out my psychological issues, then I can relax, and the life I was always meant to be living can begin.’


The person mired in this mentality believes that the reason she doesn’t feel fulfilled and happy is that she hasn’t yet managed to accomplish certain specific things; when she does so, she imagines, she’ll feel in charge of her life and be the master of her time.”

That was me. I treated the present almost exclusively as a path to the future and rarely did anything except it contributed to some future goal. I drove my friends crazy with calculations showing it was better to buy joyless food from Chicken Republic and use the time saved to do “something for the future”. It sounds ridiculous now – but that was me!

It turns out to be perilously easy to over-invest in this instrumental relationship to time – to focus exclusively on where you’re headed, at the expense of focusing on where you are – with the result that you find yourself living mentally in the future, locating the ‘real’ value of your life at some time that you haven’t yet reached, and never will.”

While I still think about and prepare for the future, I think the past seven years have been made ‘fuller’ because I gained a different perspective on the present. Some of my happiest moments have been when I was fully present – at a karaoke jam with my friends, trying out Instagram filters with my godson, or staring at a beautiful sunset.


Over the coming holidays to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, I invite you to find time to be present. Just be there – wherever you are and whoever you’re with – giving them your full attention for a few moments.


Enjoy the holidays. There’ll be time to plan for 2022 later.


* Quotes are from Burkeman, Oliver. Four Thousand Weeks. Random House. Kindle Edition.




What I’m currently reading: In The Visit, Chimamanda Adichie imagines a world run by women, where female leaders interfere with men’s lives similarly to how male leaders interfere with women’s lives in this world. On the very first page, the (female) US President praises the supreme court for upholding the Male Masturbatory Act that punishes masturbation with up to fifteen years in prison. She describes masturbation as leading to the loss of potential children. Later on, we are introduced to a family where the female breadwinner is constantly wooed by younger men while her husband works as a full-time caregiver for the kids. Married men don’t want to go to clubs without their wives because it is seen as irresponsible, and a policewoman describes a man dressed in fitted jeans as “dressed like a prostitute”. I found the entire book jarring, and it led me to reflect on the things I take for granted in this world because I am a man.


What I’m currently listening to: Little Drummer Boy by Daystar Choir from the 2013 carol service! Little Drummer Boy is my favourite Christmas song and it always puts me in such a good mood. This version with a Nigerian twist is so good and takes me back to some of my best times at Daystar Christian Centre. I was in the building for this service and I remember how amazing it was. I can’t wait until we can get together in large groups like this again.




Merry Christmas in advance, and ‘see you’ again on Boxing Day! xoxo.

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