My great grandfather was 81 years when he died. He was a beneficiary of the colonial era education offered by missionaries. A simple man, and farmer at heart, He believed that he who can feed himself and his family is a content man. On his deathbed, he was a very rich man having inherited his father’s 600-acre plantation which he annexed to build his export empire.
Baba was loved by all. I still remember how full his house usually was whenever we visit. Helps who, after performing their duties prefer to stay around in other to curry Baba’s favour, rebellious children whose parents have faith in Baba’s ancient wisdom, beneficiaries of his philanthropy who either need more or have come to show their gratefulness. In short, there was never a dull moment… I miss those days.
Baba made everyone feel welcome not just by the great sense of judgement or his kind gesture, but he could also send anyone who was moody or unhappy to a state of hysteria. Many even said only Baba’s judgement was final in our village since he was the only person who could change the king’s mind no matter how nutty the situation may look.
On his deathbed, Baba called all his children and grandchildren in order to bless them and give them some parting advice. I followed my dad to the village on this occasion. When Baba was done with his children and grandchildren, I went in to play with baba like we always did. It was at his point that Baba decided to advise me too. He said: ‘Dotun, I know you are still young but I know you will grow up to be a successful lawyer like Taslim Olawale. When you do please remember to live a little. Don’t let making money and being successful deny you from the little pleasures of life. I know you will remember when the time is right.’
Nine years into my law practice, out of the blue I remembered my great grandfather’s advice and it was timely. My relatively young marriage (four years) was already feeling the strain of my job demand and I had not seen my parents since my child’s naming ceremony thirty-four months ago despite living in the city as them. My friends were unhappy because I had practically distanced myself from them – don’t blame me, I was on track to becoming Nigeria’s youngest senior advocate. On this fateful day, I had lost a case that was supposed to announce me to the legal world as the next high-profile senior advocate. In my reflective moment, I realized that Baba’s advice was for this time when I had sacrificed too much for a little career gain. In a bid to get to the pinnacle of my career (which I was always going to get to anyway #kickasslawyer), I had alienated myself from everyone. I simply could not continue this way. I decided to turn my life around, I simply won’t lose a case and all the people in my life.
I took a month off work and took my family (my parents, my wife and my daughter) on vacation, made amends with my friends. I realized that the only reason why most people crave status, secular success is so they can be respected amongst those they love, but even if you gained that status, without adequately acknowledging their presence in your life, there will be no one who really to share the beautiful moments with. Those moments after achievements spent in the company of those who care – that is living. Please, live a little.
On my return from vacation, I appealed the case I lost and won. I did not become a senior advocate at the youngest age though, but my friends and family were there to celebrate me when I finally became one.
Learn to live a little.