Power and a Pitfall

A tale of bricks, birthrights and crippled giants

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“Why so loud though?”

“I set you, you didn’t set me; so why exactly are you screaming?

“What happened to ringing respectfully?”

I angrily interrogated my unremorseful alarm clock as it went off at 5 a.m just when I was beginning to get some sleep. How can it be Monday again? Ugh. I grudgingly dragged myself out of bed and into the bathroom to prepare for work.

I got to work at 8 a.m, settled on my desk and attacked my day one signature at a time. Halfway through the heap of papers, my phone rang. It was my best friend Ada. I had promised Ada that I would come with her to the hospital today after I closed from work. Ada was older than me but we were two peas in a pod when we were younger. We used to meet every evening at our favorite spot to talk about all our imaginations and plans.

On one of these evenings, something strange happened. We met as usual to talk about what new dreams we had and what our adventurous minds had been scheming throughout that day. After watching one of our favourite Barbie movies, I told her, with so much excitement in my voice, how I wanted to build a pink castle on the cloud right next to hers. With a derisive smile on her face, she turned to me with a negative convinction, looked straight in my eyes and said in a seemingly strange language, “O gaghi ekwe omume.”

And just as soon as those words left her lips, she fell off her chair and her legs started shaking vigorously. Her temperature rose high enough to melt the sun and her eyes turned pale. I was overtaken by shock; fear itself has never been so scared. I called out for help with the last strip of courage left in my voice. The universe responded and we were able to get her to a hospital. She was still breathing. She was alive, or so I thought.

She was diagnosed of a terminal disease called GUS and was condemned to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. The doctors said it was a critical condition that confines its victim to a mental wheelchair, at the mercy of the merciless dictators who impress their white dusty wands against our empty slates and leave indelible scars that permanently impair our essence. The first symptom of the Growing Up Syndrome is the inclusion of the word “Impossible” to your vocabulary, or like the Igbo people in Nigeria would say it, “O gaghi ekwe omume”.

So as it turned out, Ada had “grown up” and lost her creative genius. She can no longer think outside the box, like a child, without the personal bias that stems from the “knowledge” that she now has. And the sad reality is, just like my friend Ada, many people today have “grown up”.

Remember when we were kids and we imagined the unthinkable. As far as we were concerned, nothing was impossible. We drew pigs with wings and castles on clouds. We believed anything and everything was possible until the malicious devils snuck in our bedrooms at night and poisoned our milk formula with a potion that they said was going to make us powerful. We were blindfolded and led down the path to prison, one theory at a time. And just like a plane in auto-pilot, we became robots, unable to think for ourselves without asking permission from the programs that have been carefully installed to mentally incapacitate us.

We’ve morphed into robustly fed hamsters who just lie lazily on the wheel and go in the direction that it is spun to.

We’ve become dissatisfied shadows pursuing respite in bottles, lines, pills or tiny lit screens.

We’ve forgotten that humans didn’t come from these things, we created them; but the puppeteers have gone behind our backs to sell it back to us. And just as if we are vegetables, we have bought their commodity and unquestioningly absorbed its content. We’ve stopped thinking for ourselves because every time we try to be creative, we have a personal bias that stems from our already existing knowledge — what we think we know. We tell ourselves “…but gravity …but aerodynamics …but logic”

Knowledge could be power or a pitfall. It is a double edged sword. When it is unquestioningly gobbled down, it slowly dismembers the creative giant within us till it has no voice. Otherwise, it could be formwork to mould our creative ideas and trim them to a desirable shape. How about we stop measuring the viability of our ideas by the standards of the knowledge that we’ve been fed with? And use this knowledge as steel reinforcement to lay the foundations of our castles on cloud nine.

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them”

Henry David Thoreau

Each of us was born with a brick as our contribution to building Utopia; but it has not been built because some of us lost our bricks on our journey to adulthood. It’s time to retrace our steps. It’s time to reclaim our core, our essence, our creative minds, our bricks.

Until then, Utopia would remain fiction.

Graduate Architect, Designer, Entrepreneur & part time Time Traveler

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