Lessons from Our Forefathers: Sustainable Living for Modern Times

Man is an opportunist, always seeking advantage. Even in our interaction with nature, this ingrained trait still manifests. Sometimes we are nature's enemy, and other times we are her friend. And even when we are friends, the friendship is unsurprisingly symbiotic. To build a house, we fell trees, uproot vegetation, stump undergrowth, and pollute the environment. Nature so much suffers. But as soon as the house is completed, we are nature's friend again. We plant flowers, sometimes trees. We invest time to water, and manure them; sometimes for beauty, sometimes for shade, and sometimes, for her ambience of stillness.

The Prosperity Ark

This beauty—nature providing solace, an environment where we can be lost and found in our thoughts— is why she is the bestie of artists, novelists, musicians, and every other professional whose success is hinged on their mind continually brewing novelty. 

Growing up, my grandfather had a niche in our compound, the one place in our house nobody contested. After a restful night, he was already up before dawn chewing his pako. And before the house morphed into a noisy market, he already washed and either lay on a woven mat or lounged on the bamboo bench alone beneath the ancient oak tree. Sometimes I wondered, did Grandpa so much desire the afterlife that he ran from the living? But most times, I was unconcerned because his boredom was somewhat fruitful. It at least yielded moonlight tales for me and my friends.

The Prosperity Ark

And when my indifference became hate, it was because of my mum's odd-hour calls to serve his food. Either it came when it was my set’s turn in a 6-a side, or when I almost elicited ‘I love you’ from the lips of the girl next door. When it became unbearable, I threatened him: if Grandpa can't justify his continual stay under the oak, he can kiss his meals goodbye. My dog deserves it more.

So the next morning, after serving his meal I asked him why. “Grandpa, have you always been an introvert? Why the constant soliloquy under the oak tree?” 

In response, he asked “Why do you kids pester me for stories at nighttime? Don't Baba Jibola and Iya Doyin also tell tales?” 

That was true oh. Why always him? Probably it was because Baba Jibola only tells ‘Ijapa and Aja’ every night. No novelty, no creativity. But Grandpa tales are a spiced delicacy, they would make you lick your plate, savouring every bit of it, until it's washed clean by your spit.

He continued after a brief pause. “So you see. That's why I love the oak. My favourite spot, where I am alone and undisturbed; where my mind is a river full of fish as ideas. And to catch a fish in the days of old, your eyes are fixated and your hands steady with the spear, while your mind simulates the wriggling of the fish. This requires focused attention, which I can't get in a market, like our family house.”

And this is the power of deep work, squeezing every ounce of your intellect in an environment void of distraction to produce results that are unique, and hard to replicate. Our forefathers mastered this trait with disguised soliloquy beneath shades, and by this, they became sages, dispensers of unnatural wisdom. Similarly, we also should practise deep work to optimise our results or birth new ones that make us valuable to our world.

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