comments 17

Meaning of life

I used to be scared of dying.

I’m still scared of dying. But when I was twelve, the fear was an illness, a reality my mind refused to let go of. One time, I was convinced that I had cancer. I cried myself to sleep for an entire week, too frightened to even tell my parents. Another time, I was certain I would suffer a brain aneurysm sometime in the near future. I resigned myself to the fact that I would die without knowing that I was dying.

The fear is still there in the back of my head somewhere, it manifests itself as giddiness whenever I cross a large expanse of water by plane, or on a bridge. You see, now I’m scared of drowning to death never mind that I’m a reasonably good swimmer.

All these thoughts were brought to the forefront by a speech I recently listened to. It was Steve Jobs speaking to Stanford graduates, and he spoke of his encounter with a rare pancreatic cancer that the doctors were initially convinced he’d never survive. He did survive but it reaffirmed for him a principle he’d learnt to live by: Live everyday like it’s your last. I’d heard these words before. In fact, they’d lost their meaning through over-use. But for some reason, this time, it sunk in.

He said, and I paraphrase, every morning, look into the mirror and ask yourself “If today was my last day, would I want to do what I’m about to?”. If the answer is no, too many times in a row, then you have a problem. The question haunts me.  Because I want my answer always to be yes. Always. Thing is, I’m not sure how to ensure that without bungling it, getting overrun by the wrong ideals or just plain disillusioned.

And so, I’m gonna take it one step at a time. Small gestures. Before I leave home in the morning, I will give my still drowsy Dad and sibs, cheery farewells. I will wink at my reflection in the mirror. On the bus, I will raise my thoughts and mind to my Creator, I will run all my plans and my schedule by Him and ask Him not to let me wander too far. I will let my family and friends know I love them; notes, letters, phone calls.

I will do one thing everyday to bring me closer to my goals.

I may temporarily accept less, but will refuse to settle with it.

I will do exactly what I feel like when I want to. I will trust my conscience, sense of propriety and upbringing to make sure I don’t do the wrong stuff. I will reject crowd mentality and mediocrity, and not let my fear of being unpopular or poverty overrule my sense of ‘right’.

Above all, I will stay hungry and foolish. Hungry so I always remember where I’m coming from, and stay motivated to succeeding. And foolish, so that I’ll always attempt the impossible.


  1. Hafsat says

    I like this write – up, especially the “If today was my last day, would I want to do what I’m about to?” and the “I will do one thing everyday to bring me closer to my goals.”. Good plan. All the best with it 🙂

  2. Hafsat says

    You know, this write up has helped me in taking a second look at my life…thanks Jennifer 🙂

  3. you’re welcome!
    It especially drives home for me the importance of everyday. Hope your “second look” was satisfactory…:)

    • Hafsat says

      Yeah, it helped me reassess some things I do and how I would like them to be etched in my memory – did I give it a try or did fear of failing prevent me from doing it. In order words, did I pass out on a chance to better myself?

  4. I Remember back in high school , always had this feeling that I would die and I was so scared. It was made worse by one of my close friends dying and there I was thinking that would be next! Now seven or so years later, I look back and laugh at myself. Not that I am not afraid of dying but I resolved to live it up! The feelings from high school are not that strong anymore. Nice article Osemhen.

    • I think that fear happens to everyone at some point in their lives. I may explore it in another post, it’s rather intriguing. Thanks!

  5. MistaWest. says

    Nice. Very inspiring. I too Im not afraid of dying. Just dying before achieving my goals. And talking about goals, your link on ‘goals’ advertises websites!

    • I’m still scared of dying, o….make no mistake :). Except now it’s via drowning that totally frightens me…
      for real about the link? I just updated it sha…it should work (link to my 10 years from now post).

  6. Mallam Sawyerr says

    another good piece…like Mista West…I’m not exactly afraid of dying…doin so before fulfilling my purpose is what scares me…

  7. Reblogged this on eurekanaija and commented:
    Someone (you know yourself :)) went on a reading spree on this blog and this was one of the posts she liked. I re-read it and liked it so much I decided to reblog it. It reminded me of many things. Hard to believe I wrote this 5 years ago! Hope you enjoy it.

  8. LOOL. I spent my growing years in the hospital, always had one thing or the other. Then I use to say prayer for the dying before I sleep… Not afraid anymore…

  9. I’m getting conscious and mindful over and over yet again. It’s like a heaven sent .I don’t need to start narrating the sad yesterday , I am sure heaven have smiled at me with this episode of your write up .Thank you sister osem

  10. thenaija says

    stay hungry and foolish…. these words, crafted to mean so much more than the usual… Amazing. I loved this! thanks for sharing.

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