You Can’t Save The World
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Growing up I always wanted to be like Superman…I wanted to be the one that fought off villains and rescued the world from evil. All I had to do to realize my dream of saving the world was simply to learn how to fly…so I practiced as much as I could; running around the house with hands wide open while my bed sheet hung precariously around my neck as it flapped vehemently in the wind. But no matter how fast I ran or how high I jumped I could never quite fly…but I kept on practicing jumping from my bed to the ground and then from the top of the dresser to my bed, inching higher and higher. My flight sessions soon came to a crashing halt…quite literarily as I attempted a jump off the balcony of our 2 storey building…almost shattering my skull in the process. My Mum immediately put an end to my flight dream with a series of well delivered cane strokes and verbal scolding.
So I began chasing my dream in another way…the conventional way. I joined several charities and organizations throughout my high school and college years as I battled anything and everything from world hunger to world poverty. My mission was to save the world without having to FLY! And I did so by volunteering with several community service organizations. But just as I was getting into the swing of things, a new villain appeared out of nowhere…it came in the form of a JOB offer letter! Instantly all my free college time disappeared, I was engulfed into a new world…the world of corporate America. I had to pick between the world I loved and the world that ensured I could pay my bills. I picked the latter quite logically, but I was still attracted to the former. So I tried to do what every normal super hero would do, juggle both jobs. I would come back home after a long day at work and transition almost immediately into super hero mode, publicizing events and raising funds for my organizations. Soon enough, I found out it was quite difficult for a super hero to rescue the world while having a full time job…just ask Spiderman and Superman!!! I was perpetually tired and stressed out…but rather than stop, I continued on my mission to save the world, fighting day-in day-out and even on weekends…until I found myself in the white OFFICE…
I heard five words that would stun me…
It was a cold white room barely big enough to fit 2 adults comfortably…I waited for what seemed like an eternity. I kept myself occupied by absorbing the information plastered on numerous charts that draped the cold walls of the room. But as soon as my thoughts begun to settle, they were interrupted by a screeching sound…it was the door being pushed opened. A lady dressed in white entered the room and without much conversation began to wrap a black cuff around my left upper arm. She inflated it gradually with a hand pump until I could feel the blood flow in my arm. I was sure I was going to pass out but just as my eyes began to bulge she released the air from the cuff as she simultaneously pressed a stethoscope unto my bare skin as she listened intently. This was a ritual that I was already used to. It was a blood pressure test, a customary and mandatory test that I had to do every time I visited the doctor’s office. It normally concluded with a nurse writing a bunch of medical jargon on a piece of paper and exiting the room. But this time it was different!
Rather than exiting the room she just sat down, looking perplexed. It was as if she had heard the devil himself screaming through her stethoscope. Without saying a word she repeated the inflation-deflation-listen ritual…but her expression remained the same and before I could speak a word, I heard five words that would stun me, “Your Blood Pressure is high.”
“What do you mean my blood pressure is high?” I responded in disbelief.
She proceeded to give a short lecture on systolic and diastolic pressures but I could barely understand a thing she said (which probably explains my poor performance in Biology) until she uttered the phrase “hyper-tension.” At age 28 hyper-tension was the last word I wanted to hear. People of my age only suffered from occasional light fevers, bike accidents and sports injuries but not hyper-tension! Surely something was wrong, but the writing was as clear as a Doctors medical scribbles could be my systolic pressure was at 142mmHg and was well within the range for stage 1 hyper-tension. Superman had kryptonite, Spiderman had Mary Jane and I had High Blood pressure!
I needed to talk to someone that would not raise my blood pressure any higher…so that promptly eliminated my Mum. If there was anyone that could drive my blood pressure high by worrying too much…it was my Mum. So instead I called my older brother…if there was anyone more informed with medical issues it was him. After several injuries and surgeries he had become well versed in medical procedures and data. Although worried at first he assured me that my high blood pressure was probably a spike…an outlier…something that occurred due to a peculiar set of events. He was right…because that week, I was in my supreme world saving mode…I had a major work deadline, my soccer team had an important game and my non-profit organization was preparing for our annual banquet. All that combined with my regular family responsibilities was enough to push my stress levels to the pre-hypertension limits. For the next few days I stopped working long hours and began leaving work at 5:00 pm, I also reduced my responsibilities in my non-profit organization and skipped my soccer games for that week. The result was instantaneous, in less than a week my blood pressure had gone back to normal…but what was more interesting was that the world did not end! My non-profit organization still functioned; my work place had not disappeared off the face of the earth and remember that major deadline? Well that was postponed indefinitely.
Superman had kryptonite, Spiderman had Mary Jane and I had High Blood pressure!
What I learnt from that experience is probably debatable, but I realized that no matter how hard we try or how hard we work, we cannot save the world. Even Superman couldn’t do it, neither could Spiderman…they always ended up fighting to save one person, the ones they loved and cherished. I am not saying that we should not attempt to save the world from whatever we think it needs saving from…but I am saying that we should ensure that we don’t neglect the ones close to us as we do so.
We cannot save the world, but we can save the ones that mean the world to us, especially ourselves!
Unfortunately, too many of us do that…getting up every day trying to rescue the world…we work long hours and even weekends battling to rescue our companies from impending disaster. We spend our little spare time in volunteer organizations trying to save the world from itself. Day-in and day-out we are constantly on the move…even utilizing our vacations to work! We feel that if we stop moving that the world will end…but the irony is that the world never stops even if we die…it will go on. But the people that hurt and suffer the most are the ones closest to us…our family, our friends and ourselves. Often times we overlook them expending our energy working for company bosses and being on call for them at odd hours but never being around for those that care about us. However, if we are able to shift our priorities away from the world and unto the ones that mean the world to us we would begin to realize the truth and that is “We cannot save the world, but we can save the ones that mean the world to us, especially ourselves!”
CONCLUSION: Before you begin writing letters of condolences about my health I am fine. This event happened 3 years ago. Keep rocking and thanks for all those that give me the encouragement to pursue my dreams.
Ofili is an award winning motivational speaker, author, life coach and entrepreneur who blogs about life, success and entrepreneurial excellence. Follow him on twitter , facebook or subscribe to his blog for more success TIPS!”