The oldest of all men is not the one
who lived for so many years, but the
one whose influence remains in
people’s mind many years after his
-Fola Daniel Adelesi
Celebration of birthdays over the years has occupied some people’s mind because they feel it is necessary since they are still alive or they are doing it because every other person is doing it.
I don’t have anything against those who celebrate birthdays because they are alive. Birthdays are really worth celebrating if you think of the accidents you have escaped; the sicknesses you have narrowly survived; the threats on your life and some other tough times that didn’t snuff life out of you. Some people celebrate their birthdays because they feel they could have died before that time but they are still living. Fine!
‘It’s not the hours that count but what you put into it,’ was what I saw on the door of one of my teachers. Celebrating your birthday because you are getting older is not enough. What you have done over the years is what you should be thinking of. Some people would be noted for long life and some would be noted for all that they did while on earth.
Someone once said that the measure of life is not a function of its duration but its donation. What’s the essence of living long without doing anything good with your life? You are only going through unnecessary stress if you spend so many years on earth without changing anything around you or changing anybody’s life
If you are celebrating your 40th birthday, ask yourself if you have affected up to 40 lives. Oh yeah! You have spent 50 years on earth but have you affected up to 50 lives? The oldest of all men is not the one who lived for so many years, but the one whose influence remains in people’s mind many years after his death.
One of our national dailies has this to say about a man, ‘by the time he was 50 years old, he had built a conglomerate of businesses. There were five companies, all of them trailblazers.’ 50 years later he was interviewed and only one of all his business was surviving. He actually married 17 wives but none was staying with him any longer. He gave birth to 19 children and he does not know the whereabouts of his children. When he was asked the kind of life he lived he said, ‘I did nothing except work.’
The same man, when asked series of questions about his wives said, ‘if I live my life again, I will not marry.’ His life’s philosophy is, ‘you must be a free man.’ This man who was about celebrating his 100th year on earth said, ‘…before I became a bachelor again…’ What’s the meaning in the kind of life he has been living? All he has is money and I recollect he said, ‘all I wanted was to be an Alhaji and that is what I am.’ 100 years of hustle and bustle without any impact on another man’s life! Hundred years of search for a title and no more!
Having been indebted to ignorance, a lot of people spend more than necessary and some squander all their resources on birthday parties. It reminds me of a friend who said, ‘some people borrow the money they don’t have to buy what they don’t need to satisfy those who don’t like them!’ Spending to please initiates a move in the direction of absolute wretchedness in life.
What could have been invested in something else that you will never regret investing in is allowed to waste on confectionery and tasty drinks. I know of people who see birthdays as opportunities to prove they are rich and they make so much noise about birthdays just because they want to be recognized but after the birthday they run around for the debt incurred to feign what they don’t have. Birthdays are not all about collecting and giving out gifts neither has it been instituted for the purpose of buying new shoes and clothes. I’m not against this, for your information.
How can you increase your blood pressure because you intend to please someone? The people you want to impress are already impressed but you have just got yourself into another problem. The problem you have just got into is that you would strive to continually impress the people you have impressed once. If you attend a function organized by me and didn’t struggle to impress you, I would not have to struggle to impress you after the occasion.
The good book said, ‘teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90 vs 12: NIV) I feel like there is someone knocking my head against the wall each time I hear people boasting about their age, just to tell the others around that they are older! The only thing they can tell you is how others made history. They know how every wealthy or popular person in the state became wealthy or popular but they are wallowing in abject poverty and they want to be respected for their age! Even kids have people they talk to anyhow and people they talk to carefully because of their perception of usefulness and uselessness. They dare not tongue-lash their biscuit donor
The number of lives I want to influence has been my major concern in life. We all are created for a purpose and birthdays should be days when we ought to think of why we came to this world and what we want to achieve before we leave this earth. You have been celebrating birthdays, have you not been wasting the potentials attached to the life you are celebrating? This is a time to redefine your purpose on earth.
Set a plan of what you want to achieve before your next birthday. Keep thinking of new things you can work on and how to influence more lives. A life that is full of achievement is the life that people will celebrate. When you work on your purpose people will beg you to celebrate your birthdays with you. Some people are dead today but people are still celebrating their birthdays and that’s because they lived fulfilled lives. Note that my clear-cut definition of success now stands as what you have helped others to achieve and what you achieved for them
The greatest of all people think of donation, and not duration; they think of what they still have to achieve, and not what they have achieved. Live everyday of your life as if you are having one more day before death comes. People will remember you for what you do and not how long you live. Most of the people I used to know who are now dead are really remembered for their works. I don’t remember how old they were when they died.
The glossary of nonbiblical people and places in the New International Version of the Bible published by Zondervan Publishing House says, about Martin Luther King, ‘U.S African-American clergyman who received the 1964 Nobel peace prize for his leadership in the nonviolent struggle for racial equality in the U.S.’ It also has these to say about the following men:
Saddam Hussein – ‘The cruel president of Iraq, who led his nation into the Persian Gulf War (1991) as a result of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.’
John F. Kennedy – (1917-1963) ‘35th President of the U.S., the youngest man and the first Roman Catholic to be elected to that office; fourth U.S President in history to die by an assassin’s bullets.’
Winston Churchill (1974-1965) ‘British statesman and orator, the great national leader during World War 11.’
Charles Colson – ‘U.S government official during Richard Nixon’s presidency, convicted for his role in the Watergate scandal; now active as an evangelical Christian author and the founder and leader of a prison ministry’ (Author of ‘THE GOD OF STONES AND SPIDERS’).
Robert Frost – (1874-1963) ‘American poet who used symbols from common life to express the values of rural New England, four-time winner of the Pulitzer prize.’
Henry Ford – (1863-1947) ‘U.S industrialist known as the creator of modern mass production, most notably in the assembly-line method of automobile production.’ (One of the greatest men I’ve read about who operated mainly through faith)
Michelangelo – (1475-1564) ‘a native Italian, he is considered to be the greatest painter of the renaissance and the most famous of all sculptors since the time of the Greeks, best known for his statue of ‘David’ and his four-year painting project in the Sistine chapel in Rome.’
Franklin Delano Roosevelt – ‘the U.S.’s 32nd president and only president to be reelected three times, he served during the New Deal era and during World War 11.’
Louis Pasteur –(1822-1895) ‘French chemist and microbiologist who developed a vaccine for rabies and the method of heat pasteurization for liquid foods and beverages.’
Idi Amin – ‘at one time the cruel dictator of the East African nation of Uganda, known for his persecution of Christians.’
The world still has something to say about people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Douglas Mac Arthur, Adolf Hitler, John D. Rockefeller, William Shakespeare, George Washinton, Obafemi Awolowo, M.K.O Abiola, Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Sir Winston Churchill, Malcom X and many more. What will the world say about you?
Do you want to fall into the category of people whose biographies were ‘Enosh lived 905 years, and then he died; and he lived for 840 years; and he lived for 807 years; and he lived for 895 years; and they had sons and daughters and they died?
Many people do not like to hear anything pertaining to death so they hate people who talk about death indiscriminately. Hating people who talk about death indiscriminately is not enough to stop anybody from dying but the truth is that there is something that scares me more than death.
You would marvel at what scares me more than death and you probably want to ask if anything could be worse than death. If for so many years you have thought there is nothing worse than death I think you should give serious consideration to what I want us to weigh.
When I look around I often see people who do not care about what happens when they are dead. They only want to think about what they can get out of life. When you attend a programme you can always think of what to take to your house but the question I have for you is, “To where do you take all the things that you are struggling with here on earth?”
The only thing that scares me more than death is not to be remembered for anything after my death. It’s amazing to see people who would walk through the face of the earth without footprints like the serpent moves on the rock without any sign. It is my belief that the one who has something to leave behind is the one who has truly lived. Isn’t it infuriating if the only thing people would remember about you is your name by the time you are gone?
I do not like to see people who are just roaming this planet because they have no significant contribution to the society yet they are taking part of the oxygen that the industrious people are supposed to use.
You have a choice either to be useful or to be useless to the society. You have a choice either to determine what happens in the society or to be a victim of what happens in the society. You have a choice to make things happen or watch things happen. You have a choice to decide what kind of life to live or to have it decided for you. You have a choice to be emulated by posterity or to be disdained by posterity.
Just as we differentiate things with adjective, the contributions of a man to life will stand as the adjective to differentiate him from other men. People wouldn’t keep your name in their heads for so long but they would keep it if it were introduced as, ‘Fola Daniel Adelesi, the man who touched many lives through his books, ideas and motivational talks.’ A picture must pop up on people’s minds when your name is mentioned.
The beauty of a life is the adjective attached to it. The beauty of a name is in why it must be remembered by people. The world has potential assets in people but the bitter truth is that a potential asset remains a liability because it costs something to keep it until it responds to demands on it. The only thing that looks terrible to me and as well scares me more than death is not to be remembered for anything after my death. As for me that is impossible, what about you?
Will anybody remember you for the big parties you held in the name of birthdays or what you contributed to the society? Think! ‘Those who think don’t stink,’ says Bishop David Oyedepo.