A bigger rock, smaller rock, steep path, slippery path, hot zone, cool shade, making sure I climb my way up steadily. My leg muscles are already not feeling they exist. So much stretching and aching.
At last, I am the top. A view stretching to the edge of the earth. So bright and beautiful.
It is Hiking Saturday again. Today is at a jungle of hills and mountains located at the border of Abuja & Niger state.
Now at the top, with the breeze cooling off my sweating body. I step across the edge of the rock. Excited yet nervous.
I know at this point, any wrong step will be a headline in the news.
The edge was right in front of me, still trying to approach where the rock meets oblivion. I stopped and stood for a moment. I could listen to my body arguing with the natural waves of death invoking signals.
It is about 10 feets to the edge. My body has never been so alert. My legs stiffens, back straightens, eyes become hyperfocused on every step, feet hardens. I feel an invisible magnet telling me to go back to safety.
But I fought it. I gently dragged my hardened feet towards the edge. 8ft, 6ft, 4ft… I stopped again.
Now I can see not where the earth touches the sky but the down the edge of the cliff itself. Already imagining how death will happen if I mistakenly slip my feet.
It was far down below with a lot of sharp rock edges, hanging trees growing in between rocks. I could hear my mind telling me to stop moving. But I told him to shut the hell up and I kept inching forward. 3ft now. My body goes into red alert.
I am now in a sort of a trance greeting God with a High 5 telling me “Welcome to heaven my faithful and loyal son” . It was like the swiftest breeze will send me down the cliff to eternity.
My stiffed legs started shaking. My hands too. I felt saying a word will make my feet twist so I shut my mouth. 3ft to the edge is where many will stop before they go back to safety.
But still, I moved closer. 2ft, 1ft.. The cliff now very visible. The beautiful view I saw earlier was now the last thing in my mind. Thoughts came in full force.
This distance to the edge, it was like I am floating. It was like I am part of everything that makes the sky. The only thought in my mind was to miss a step and fall.
So I crouched with all the carefulness you can imagine. Catching my breath and fighting the thoughts in my head. I wonder if the other hikers can see me almost kissing the lips of death.
I heard nothing but the cool breeze. Just what I need to meditate, thinking I am few inches to my own death. I got out of my thoughts and reminded myself.
“Sheyi, calm down. It is all right to die.”
I instantly got into a moment of meditation. I realized in order to appreciate life better, we have to keep death in mind at all times.
But instead, many of us fear what is inevitable to happen to us. We are all gonna die one day.
But we fear death. Which makes us live below our real potentials. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
Out of my thoughts and back to the cliff where I crouched, I sat down with my hands on the ground behind me. Gradually positioning my legs like I am sitting on a chair but this time at the cliff’s edge.
Then my legs hit a small rock, sending it down the cliff. I could see it dropping to eternity only that it is a rock. Fear shoots back up my spine. Laser-focusing my mind on every right place my body needs to be.
Each time fear stifles me, I empty my thoughts and focus my mind, making sure I am alive.
I am now sitting with death. With no weapon to fight back. I can feel the adrenaline rush yet conscious of where I am.
I leaned back, facing the sky with a little relief I am safer in that position & I laughed realizing it feels good at the cliff’s edge.
Daring the reality of one’s death is important because it abolished the cheap & weak values we have set for ourselves. The wealth, the attention, the fame, the desire to be loved or cared for, death confronts us with a far more important question.
What is your legacy? How will the world be different & better when you die? What influence will you have made?
It occured to me right there on that cliff this is the most important question to ask ourselves yet we avoid thinking about it cos death is hard & scary.
Avoiding this question had hijacked our minds and taken control of our desires and ambitions for worthless values. Not acknowledging that we will die one day has made us lived below what we can maximally achieve in life. Death is inevitable.
This will give us room to choose values that goes beyond serving ourselves only. Whatever religion, knowledge or philosophy have, they all tell you happiness is from one thing: believing in something greater than yourself, that you are just a fragment of some much bigger entity, that your life is a leaf of a bigger tree.
This is why we believe in God, blow up innocent lives for religion, work to be rich, raise families, invent iPhone: that sense of being part of something greater than ourselves.
It is the reason why we change for good after reflecting on our lives when we lose a loved one. It is after someone’s death you see everyone preaching on Social media even if they haven’t done it before because death reminds us of living towards something greater than ourselves.
Death is the only thing we can tell with all certainty. It is the only answer to all questions we ask as we plan or try to do something but never do.
The only reason we plan to get married & have kids. The reason we plan to get rich. The only reason we gave our life to God. This is why we usually see ourselves to be bigger than what we actually look like which is the basic root of all happiness.
Because the only way to be comfortable with death is to see ourselves as something bigger than ourselves.
But because we don’t realise this, entitlement has isolated us. Making us think we are the center of all the problems in the world and we are the one who deserves to be loved and greater than others.
It has caused us to evolve into modernization of deserving something without earning it. A world that feels they have a right to something without sacrificing.
It has caused us to confuse great attention for great success. We all want to be great. Greater than our familiy, friends & loved ones.
What you don’t know is you are already great. Whether you know or not, or whether others see it. Not because you are rich or influencial, finished school early & got a job or bought yourself a house before you clocked 30. All these things does not define greatness.
You are already great because even with the certainty that we will all die, you have choose what you will do with your life & what not to do with it. The choosing of your values in life already made you great even if you don’t realise this.
See, you are going to die & this because you are fortunate enough to live. You may have to stand at the cliff to realise this.
We are all going to die. All of us are going to die. This alone should make us love one another & not take offense but it doesn’t.
We have been engulfed by entitlement to only care about ourselves alone. Death is the light by which the shadow of all of life’s meaning is measured. Without death, everything about life will be irrelevant.
As I thought about this, I realized the greatest and wisest men ever lived on earth thought about their death even before it came. Even Jesus did, so why won’t I?
It is about 20 minutes already sitting on the edge of the cliff. I finally decided to get up. I put my hands behind me and scooted back. Then slowly I stood up.
Looking behind me, to make sure no bad step on a rock is ready to sabotage me, I stepped backwards slowly and having recognized I am safe, I began to walk back to reality. 3ft, 5ft, 8ft, 10ft finally… Now I knew today is not the day to die. 😁.
And I thought to myself, “Why will anyone care they die when they are still so afraid to live?”.
Think about it.