Earlier on this week, I was driving home from what constitutes a “long day” in my new line of work. I had been to the gym, choreography rehearsal, done an interview with a magazine and spent hours in the studio working on the final mixes for my new album. Suffice it to say that I was pooped, so the drive back home through the intense Lagos traffic was tough to stomach.
I’d also made the mistake of not bringing along any cd’s to listen to, so I was stuck flipping the radio from station to station, trying to find something to keep my mind off of the road, while honking my horn and cursing underneath my breath. Lagos drivers probably know what I mean. Let’s just say I wasn’t in the best of moods.
Anyway, while I was there, something… or someone caught my eye. There was this little boy running alongside the danfo bus in front of me, trying to sell oranges. He went through the whole process: first balancing the tray of oranges on his head while giving his sales pitch, trying to court customers. Then one of the bus riders showed enough interest for him to set his tray down and run back with a bag of oranges. The customer liked the bag but asked the boy to go back and peel them. So off he ran, back to his tray, peeling the oranges at lightening speed and cutting each one at the right angle; all while traffic inched along. When he finished he dashed right back to the bus and completed his sale. Total value of goods sold? 200 Naira, maybe (about $1.25 USD).
This is an everyday occurrence on the streets of Lagos, or any similar metropolis around the world. It happens all the time, and we think nothing of it. But I think God may have just used that moment to remind me of all the things we take for granted, everyday. This boy could not have been more than 10 years old, and here he was, working his butt off for a dollar at a time. At his age I was probably mostly concerned with my next toy or next pair of sneakers; this kid was already a “breadwinner”. I was sitting there grumbling in my air-conditioned car, while he had probably been on his feet all day long under the hot African sun. I didn’t like what I was listening to on the radio, but the soundtrack to his day was the blaring of horns and the screeching of tires. I’d probably spent on lunch what he makes in a week of hard labor.
This weekend in the U.S.A they will be celebrating Thanksgiving; essentially it’s a time when families will get together and celebrate. During my time over there, every thanksgiving, I’d get together with my siblings and my closest friends. None of our parents lived in the States, so we’d create a sort of extended family-friend ritual: all 15 or 20 of us young people in a house, hanging out, cooking, eating, and going out together. It was my favorite time of the year there because that was the one holiday we all managed to be together… and the highlight of it all was definitely the food. And of course the parties, etc. But right before we devoured the feast, we’d go around the table and each person would say what we were thankful for.
Fast-forward to today. I’ve relocated back to Lagos, so no more family-friend thanksgiving dinners for me. But after seeing that little boy this week, I’ve decided I still need to take the time to say what I’m thankful for, and ironically, just last Sunday my Pastor in Church preached about having an “attitude for gratitude”.
So here goes, in no particular order… I’m thankful for my parents and siblings, and all my relatives. I’m thankful for my friends, my business partners and colleagues; for my role models and support system. For my job and being able to do what I love for a living. For my nieces and nephews and for the joy I get in watching them grow. For being blessed with the gift of music. For every school I ever went to and the people that were a part of my life there. For Corona Primary school, Home Science, ADRAO, Colonie Central High, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. For the friends and coworkers I had at Johnson Controls Inc, and General Electric, McDonalds’, Guess, Eddie Bauer, JC Penney, and for my time at TREM, FOLC, and LFMIC. For my Empire Mates Entertainment family and for the industry I’m now blessed to be a part of. For anyone I’ve ever considered a close friend. For anyone that has ever been a fan of mine. For the rough times I’ve had this year and in years past that have made me a stronger person. For any ex-girlfriend I’ve had that made me a better man. For my favorite sports teams and my favorite Artistes, home and abroad. I’m grateful for the gift of family, friendship and love and for the precious gift of life and good health. For all this and for so much more, I’m eternally thankful and grateful.
Because the truth of the matter is, no matter how bad you have it or how rough things may be right now, there’s always someone who has it much worse. And by God’s grace it’ll get better anyway.
So there it is. Happy Thanksgiving folks! And Barka de Sallah to my Muslim friends!