Green Light

 I’m sure you’ve been wondering what has kept me off for so long. Forgive me; I never planned it to be so. By now, I must have started my year-long service in the state called Borno (capital = Maiduguri). Yes, I could have had it moved to Lagos or PH – but I don’t believe in chance. So, I might come back darker, but it must be for the better. Enough chatter, let’s get o the gist of the day …….. “Green Light”.

There are none so blind as those, that will not see” – John Heywood

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration” – Thomas Edison

Of the three distinct colours that characterize every traffic-light system, the green light is definitely the most popular. We all want to see the green. Occasionally, however, a bold red stares us in the face and we’re forced to wait. The green light can mean different things to different people. A driver would love it just as much as a hawker (or even the lurking marauder) hates it. Still, both “sects” get their fair share of greens and reds. Since the traffic light was built with the driver in mind, let’s take out eyes off the “secondary users”.

Back when I had a stint in Abuja, I got to understand what ends traffic lights were really built to serve. Things were a bit different back home. Such a terrorist I had been that I voluntarily mixed the colours up; making orange irrelevant, and red equal to green whenever it suited myhigh-speedintentions. Surprisingly, I never got busted {by anyone that mattered}. Things were a bit different in the F.C.T. I had neither my driver’s license nor enough cash to pay a legitimate fine – but the roads were just too seductive to ignore.

They were dark, long, smooth and curvy; a real driver’s fantasy!

At a point, my aunt was out of town and I was left with two cars to choose from: either the old Mitsubishi Lancer (AKA Flash) or the even older Toyota Corolla “first lady” (AKA Smokie). Both automobiles bore my preferred manual engines; so, something else had to influence my choice of a “roll-out ride”. Flash provided a much better drive but didn’t have half as much fuel as Smiokie. Smokie, in spite of having all the fuel, got its name from the faulty silencer she possessed; maybe you guessed that already! Here are the little details you couldn’t have guessed: if I had driven Smokie everyday for one week, the ozone layer would have been totally depleted and I would have been left deaf. Smokie was as environmentally callous as she was loud! My plan was simple: hook up with Flash – till shortly before someone got hurt, then put up with Smokie for the rest of the time. The “fool-proof” idea was to get to the office first and leave last; thereby minimizing the number of people who knew of Smokie’s defects.

Flash got me through traffic like water through rocks – but she was soon out of fuel. It was now Smokie’s moment in the sun. I have to say, for all her noise and smoke, that baby could also move. The only other issue (aside the afore-listed) were her brakes. She was a little hard of hearing, break-wise {blame it on all the noise}! One that Wednesday, after the usual “safety margin” delay at the office, I set off home. There was little trouble convincing myself that the delay was enough justification for pushing Smokie hard. I leaned into the corners with enough spirit to make Smokie wonder if I was high on spirits; aggressive – but careful. As I stingily negotiated the final bend before a series of deliberate bumps in the road, I saw this chubby dude looking bored out of his skull in his dark-blue 3-series BMW. On slowing down, I noticed he was doing the forbidden sign! I had seen and complied with that sign many times before; it was another chance at a 200% adrenalin race? Of course, I obliged impetuously.

The dude wanted to race “first lady” Smokie with a 3-series Beamer? I laughed in French – at myself. I knew I didn’t stand much of a chance but “never say never”. My grip was now firmer on the wheel; my chair propped to “rapid response” angle. As we maneuvered through the final bump in concert, I shot him a smirk, as if to say “I’ve got more than you see”. Instead of a “bring it on” nod, he gave himself away by nervously grabbing on to the wheel with both hands. I immediately knew he was both new at the game and driving and auto – it might even have been borrowed! Confidence was rising. Quick check: Pros Vs Cons: I had done that race many times before. The roads were good but with enough twists to scare a rookie shitless | He was driving a beamer – and I had Smokie! Damn. Well, let’s see. We hit off noisily and Smokie squealed and bucked with delight as I hit gear 3. Still, I couldn’t stop “Sir Beamer” stealing the lead. Second-place on the straight was not a bad idea – as long as I stayed close. Though his callow hands couldn’t go through the bends at that speed, he tried to play a risky game – blocking my every escape attempt. He was soon to be guilty of overdoing it, as he skidded from a slight oversteer. By my rapid execution of a torque-raising 5-to-4, he had surrendered the lead. Once I was ahead, Smokie’s generosity with exhaust fumes did me about the same dose of good as the gas pedal. The finish line was the traffic light at the busy junction ahead – and it was approaching rather fast. Seeing as I couldn’t cross before the red came back on (and given Smokie’s braking issues) I slowed down. Sir Beamer” was so desperate to claim the day’s victory that he only chose to apply his brakes about 10 metres from the junction. He didn’t have much luck, as he ran the red. The smoke and sound from his emergency braking also did little to conceal his recklessness from the law-enforcement guys in the area. He could just have sped on – but he waited. Maybe to savour his victory – or to give me the “who’s boss” look as I passed. Whatever the underlying reason, he was made to regret that choice by the law-enforcement guys. As I drove home from there {soberly now}, I couldn’t help feel some pity for the poor lad. Did he see the red light late, or did he just choose to ignore it?

Sorry for going on and on about my road-life. Yes, I do love a car with a good manual engine (and working seat belts) – but this is less about cars than it is about traffic lights. That race taught me what the traffic light really stood for: an attempt by someone (or something) to control our motion – through a busy junction, or through life. This is about how we all view life. Is the light ahead perpetually green, orange or red? I was once told that there is no Chinese word for “crisis”. According to the tale-teller, that’s why they had a boom when the whole world was “melting down”. I was too dumb to research it. Instead, I held on to the lesson of the “fable”. Is every bump in the road a bad omen to you? Or you find tough as close to impossible as the tongue to teeth? When my (one-time) driver took my advice and started wearing a tie, he found it much easier to get food at functions. Why, you ask? What’s the correlation between wearing a tie and getting food? It’s simple: people viewed him differently and subsequently accorded him more respect! How do you view life? What you see determines your approach. If all you see is negative, in time, you’d become the epitome of negativity. On the flip-side, if you continue to wear that smile whenever you’re knocked down, even those who delight in wrecking your day would begin to wonder.

A certain man worked tirelessly to change the course of history but he hit a snag each time he tried. The red light seemed to glow brighter for every round of failure and it’s glare almost blinded me in the dark corner where I sat. Was this man really blind or just plain stupid? Why couldn’t he just come to terms with reality? “Sir, the light is bloody red. Just stop – and go have a long-overdue bath”, but Egbon Thomas (Edison) was a fairly stubborn man. No matter how bright the red light of failure sparked in his face, he saw it as a green – or an orange at best. “Not yet? I’ll try again”. He literally tried a thousand and one times before he recorded any success – but today, we have the light bulb!

I’m sure you’re not the only one out to bust the “bad-guy-good-girl” myth. Why do the worst guys get the best girls? Good news: the mystery’s been cracked. The good guy’s good all round; well-mannered and all. When a girl says “No” more times than one, he’s thinking “maybe she has another guy. I may not exactly be her type. It’s never a good idea to pester people”. The bad guy goes in solely for game; there’s only one thing on his mind! He’s smiling as she pours pepper-water on him. It’s not like he has much else to do; he was never the “classroom type”, anyway. So, he tries again and againuntil the her scowls turn to smiles. Initially, they might be mocking smiles berating his blind recalcitrance; but eventually, she will laugh with him! It’s all in your resolve!

If you were on your way to resume at your dream job, what will it take to deter you? A feverish feeling, having to wear rumpled clothes, an empty stomach, the rain, a flat tire, heavy traffic and an overheating engine? How many times are you willing to try to get what you want? Unless our dreams are petty, momentary failures are a must. Many-a-boxer has come off the back of huge knock-downs to claim the knock-out. We can’t stop the “red light” – but we sure can ignore the damn thing!

An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight. . . The truly wise person is colourblind” – Albert Schweitzer

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10 Responses to Green Light

  1. Honey says:

    got slightly uncomfortable at d long thinnnn bout car racing….:) not exactly my forte..But lovin d overall msg..very very true. But Its important to discern which red lights need to be ignored and which ones need to be adhered to tho… It aint evrythin u set u mind on ur meant to finish..HNDe-me-stified has indeed been missed…dnt stay away dat long anymore!!

  2. This is very different and inspiring… I like it so much

  3. Omoregee says:

    Interesting. Sometimes, it is difficult to know when to stop n when not to, buh its imperative that we do. If we would break grounds, the red lights should be ignored n then again maybe not. Hmmn…. Wisdom….is principal.Like Like Like!!!Hope Maidugiri is treating u good? Njoy!

  4. Anonymous says:

    To be honest, the road-life narration was initially getting tedious until the pith of the msg appeared! It's a lovely piece. You are right only dat I'll like to additionally opine that whenever the red light flashes, life might be telling us to:1. pause, think and then forge ahead. 2. Ignore and move ahead 3. hurry and send a SOS msg or 4. Cleave and learn from this. The principal thing is the wisdom to discerning what our reaction should be.Keep it up.You need to consider writing something abt the NYSC attire.Oduola.

  5. “There are none so blind as those, that will not see". "The truly wise person is colourblind” So much lessons learnt. From life experiences, the truly successful people had all the red schemes and yard sticks measured against them not to succeed but still went against that odd, the next step after a red light is the finish line. God bless you. It sure is a truthful provocation for greatness

  6. Imisi says:

    @Honey: Thanx a milli for the sweet words and for understanding.Camp was gruelling, but fun all the same. That phase is over now, so I'm back to the real world. DV, I won't go off like that again.@Harry: Thanx oh. Hope ur end is tidy?@Omoregee: Very true. Wisdom above all else. Thanx. I'm fine oh. The town's a far cry from all the tales I heard before I got in. I'm quickly finding my feet.@Prof: You couldn't be mo correct. Another prof-styled dissection of the matter. No yawa. Should be able to put somin together about the whole excercise – maybe not so much about the attire. lolz. stay tuned for "towncow kobonaire". BTW, did u know Aje served here too?@Kennisblegad: Thanx for another one of your greatly revealing contributions. Hope your taking charge at your end? I've missed your posts and will def get back to them as soon as I'm fully settled.

  7. Darol2020 says:

    ….wow… i never really thought about the red and green lights of traffic like this…. but i think its not totally wise to ignore all red lights we come across in life….cause some might just be for our own good, but i do agree that when it comes to accomplishing great things or even little things that really count, your take on this topic will make complete sense…….nice read though, thumps up!

  8. Imisi says:

    Thanx for not taking me literally. I'd really hate to have an increase in traffic infractions traced back to me. lol.

  9. Cfagbata says:

    Thank you for sharing that intriguing perspective on an interesting aspect of life with a simplistic yet effective analogy ! Truly a green light has always been the mother of all success ! If you're staring at a red light , we would not have the power to move and make things happen the way we want.

  10. Imisi says:

    You're very right. Thank you for sparing the time. Keep it green; the top beckons!!!

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