By Samuel Stephen Wakdok
I remember an incident that happened when I was seven years old. I had gone to spend the midterm break in my uncle’s house. After a night of heavy down pour, my cousin and I went out and we saw a bird beaten by the rain. This bird had its feathers soaked and wet making it impossible for the bird to fly. It perched under a tree and we were thrilled to have caught a bird. We took it home and put it in a cage then got some grains of millet and put a cube of sugar in water for it to feed and drink. We left the bird in the open to get some sunlight and save it from dying of cold. As a kid I was so happy we had a bird and we kept coming back to check it. When we came back at a point we saw that our cage was empty. The bird had flown away. I cried.
I was disappointed at the loss of the bird but I was also saddened by the bird’s ungratefulness. Here was a bird dying of cold which we rescued and sheltered and fed. We housed it in a cage to be comfortable and even put sugar in its water to make it feel at home and adapt quickly to its new-found home. Yet, the bird was uncharitable to our kindness by flying away and bailing out on us. Years after as I grow up remembering that episode in my life; I kept wondering why the bird left and how it left. I have now come to realize that the bird not only did the right thing but has inspired me to believe that we can always fly again. The bird was not created to sit in a cage as a captive but to be free and flying in the air. We like that bird must know our destination because that will determine our destiny. If we do not know where we are going to how will we get there?
The bird was patient enough to remain in the cage or trap to enable it dry off its wings and propel it for its eventual flight. Patience is what we need in a world full of rush. Rush mostly culminates in costly mistakes and fatal crashes or losses. Patience gives the stamina to start or restart depending on our circumstances. The bird had the will power to continue its journey. Strength and will power propel our desire to accomplish goals. Disappointments like the rain which soaked the bird or its period of captivity in the cage are meant to be temporary setbacks which may even provide us with security against unforeseen dangers. If we had not kept the bird in our cage, it may have been eaten up by a carnivorous animal because at that moment it had lost its power to fly or even fight. Yet it had the courage not to become at home in the cage which would have been an artificial home. Though it was uncertain of what it faces after leaving the cage, it was bold enough to take the risk to leave all the same.
In life; risk and uncertainties test our courage. The courage to try, courage to invent, courage to innovate, courage to follow or lead, courage to fail and rise again and eventually the courage to win and succeed. Traps and cages should not inhibit us but should be shelters to plan our strategies, launch, execute, launch and evaluate. These cages should be schools to graduate from and not a world to graduate into. No one therefore can hold us captives unless we keep ourselves in their captivity. There is a thin line between security and opportunity. Security limits failures and so does it limit our ingenuity and talents. Opportunity exposes us to uncertainties but so does it expose us to profitability and achievement. Hence there is a huge gulf between success guaranteed by security and that not guaranteed but exposed through opportunity. No Situation can be so hopeless that it provides no opportunity at all except the situation we have put ourselves when we limit the power of our will.
We can’t however take the right risks if we lack the know-how. We can’t find, create, explore or even exploit the right opportunities unless we have the requisite knowledge. We now live in a knowledge based economy and we cannot afford to shut out. Knowledge here is not limited to formal education alone. We can be educated without being knowledgeable. This is not to undermine the importance of education but to stress that only the right kind of education (knowledge) liberates us from the ritual of just any kind of education. Knowledge gives us the right information and information is now the 5th factor of production. The four traditional factors viz capital, enterprise, land and labour would be meaningless without information. Information is what links these other four factors together and it is what makes the venture profitable or not by opening doors to the right markets both of outputs and inputs. Of what use is a pilot flying without a weather forecast or security update?
We can always fly again if like that bird we fail to accept our unfortunate situation as a fait accompli. Rather it should only serve as a hub connecting our flights between where we are coming from and where we are going to. The most important thing is to know our worth, our value, our purpose, our place. The bird did not only know its worth and purpose, but it knew that it’s place was in the air flying with unlimited supply of fresh water and food and not in a cage imprisoned with only a cup of water and some little grains of millet. It took the risk of going into the uncertain air not knowing where its next meal which is not guaranteed will come from but it had faith in its ability to provide for itself in its own freedom. For the very rain which had soaked the bird was the same rain to make the waters flow and the fields green.
The opportunity we seek to succeed is often present in the cells which imprison us. Unfortunately it is not labeled boldly for us to see; fortunately too it is not out of our reach. It simply requires the inquisitiveness, courage, will power, confidence, ability and information which are all priceless yet without any charge for us to always fly or fly again. We cannot afford to be like a bird which is long away from home cycling in a cage when we ought to be flying in the sky.
This article was originally titled “We can always fly again”.