IT was one American actor Robert Bernstein who, while counselling his colleagues, declared that you cannot aspire to be a leading artiste and at the same time be seeking to be a multi-millionaire. You have to choose one: The best teacher in the land or the best businessman!
The trouble with most of us and I mean the most of us regardless of race, creed, religion, colour or whatever is that we want to be all things all at the same time. We want to be successful musicians and at the same time be counted as the best tailors in the land. Hence the rat race that is taking a gruelling toll on each and every one of us
The American actor under reference was worried about the decline of stage drama, and the mad rush towards the celluloid. He reasoned that the obvious reason for the clamour for the cinema was money. Every actor wanted to be as wealthy as Dale Carnegie. They want to be either a Ford or a Bill Gate. To such characters art had become secondary while the search for the dollar was primary.
Today, a tailor wants to take contracts for bricklaying. He wants to bid for electrical installation for classroom projects by his local government. A teacher wants to trade in coca-cola vending while a hair dresser wants to supply cement and other building materials to a bridge project being executed by her state government.
It is a modern day tragedy that most people are no longer bothered about creating a niche for themselves. They are not bothered about becoming the best in their chosen fields of endeavour. A man who has spent close to fifteen years in the university training to become a surgeon is no longer contented with being a dignified Neuro- Surgeon. He wants to dabble in the distributive trade of tobacco hawking! He wants to be the biggest rice importer. He wants to sell third hand cars shipped in from America or Europe. He wants, in addition, to be a realtor. One man aspiring to become, in the famous expression of MKO Abiola, a “four man”! And all these in the crazy search for money and material opulence. Such surgeons never heard of one Professor Adeola Odeku, a leading surgeon in the early seventies who shunned materialism and created the most famous name for himself in his chosen career.
It was recently that Journalist Felix Adenaike was quoting another icon of the pen Reporter Peter Ajayi that journalism ‘is a mission’. One cannot agree less with such a declaration. However, I would like to believe that journalists being likened to Missionaries must have been the journalists of our generation and the missionaries of my great grandfather’s generation. The missionaries of today if one can indulge them with such a title are mere glorified actors who advertise their ‘callng’ I mean trade, the way movie stars adorn giant posters and bill boards.
Perhaps I should make a clarification here. I am not saying a journalist or a missionary should be a poor wretched man. A surgeon should not be poor either. A good tailor or a brilliant bricklayer needs not be poor. What we are saying is that a journalist should not turn himself into a contractor. A teacher does not need to sell coca cola or ‘guguru and epa’ at the expense of his teaching job. A university teacher who wants to sell beer and thereby neglect his research and scholarship should quit teaching and face big time trading.
You can’t be everything!!
As Fela Anikulapo Kuti put it ‘Tailor wey want to sow like carpenter na suwegbe!’ What the poet philosopher singer was saying is that a carpenter should not add tailor’s job to his trade. You cannot and should not be everything…
In his contribution to this thought, a good old friend of mine Dr Kunle Olajide opined that one cannot be tall and short at the same time. “You cannot be the shortest man and be the tallest man at the same time” “You cannot be beautiful and be ugly at the same time. You cannot be bright and dull at the same time” He added for emphasis.
People should be contented and thank their Stars for little blessings. People should stop worrying about other people’s successes. If your neighbour is doing well as a Rap artiste you should not because you think you can make money like he is making abandon your own calling and start
‘Rapping’ even if your voice is in competition with the frog’s.
Contentment is a key word here. And most of us lack that simple but gracious element. We just want to be like the man next door. If we see Mr. Gorilla with a brand new SUV, we want our own SUV the next morning, caring less whether Mr. Gorilla is an armed robber waiting for a date with executioners at the Bar beach.
And there also those who want to show off knowledge or an expertise they do not possess. They want to impress neighbours that they are good electricians, expert plumbers, London-trained mechanics, and most artistic barbers; all rolled together. They are usually loudest in conversations when discussing these disciplines. They know it all.
But you cannot be a barber and a tailor at the same time. You cannot be a plumber and an electrician at the same time, even if you know a bit of each trade. Let the world know you by what you are excellent at.
The problem with most of us, even at behavioural level, is that we do not know where and when to draw the line. We want to be nice and bad at the same time. We want the world out there to think we are the best of men while inside us we know we are about the worst. You want to be everything to everybody. And this is where often times we run into trouble. Big trouble, big time!
Man, you cannot be everything!!
I first wrote this piece in 2009, and found that even today; people still run helter skelter pursuing endless ends in the unending bid to be everything and all things. You are a most successful lawyer, but you still wish and want to be a most prominent doctor because you eye and envy the doctor next door.