It was 6.30am as we stood around the table chatting about life events. My sister who now worked in Port Harcourt(PH), Nigeria came home for a weekend visit. I recall that before she moved to PH, she had the option of comfort in a smaller city with less traffic and a strong family support system. I encouraged her (more like insisted) to move to a bigger and more challenging city where she could experience independence and the hustle and bustle of big city life. I made her choose discomfort so she could experience a different side of life. That morning as we evaluated the pros and cons of that decision, we all agreed PH was the better option for the stage of life she was in.
At that point, Dad began to share his own story from over thirty years ago. He had a nice looking career as a public servant working in the Governor’s office in the old South Eastern State in Nigeria. Soon, news about the creation of states filtered into the air waves and this came with excitement and anticipation for what laid ahead. Everyone began to pitch ideas about the various career possibilities that will emerge with the newly created Cross River State. It was a sign of good things to come for young Administrative Officers.
My Dad and a few of his buddies wanted more than that, they did not want to remain at the state level, as their eyes were set on the Federal. Everyone thought moving at this time was a bad idea, after all, they looked like they were all on track to become very senior Civil Service Officers in the not too distant future. My dad recalled that someone told him that if he moved to Lagos, the then capital of Nigeria, he would come back with only an envelope on his head, implying that his future was better served here.
Against all odds, he made the move anyway, got a job into the Foreign Service and I can say, the rest is history. He said it was not easy as we moved from a three bedroom house to a one room apartment and had to undergo some major lifestyle changes. My dad made what seemed like a risky move over thirty years ago; in the short term, it was not so comfortable but looking back, I am so glad he made that move.
He chose a path that took us to places he could never afford and brought him in close contact with people he could only have dreamed of seeing on television. He is now retired and yes, life after the move was good to him so he did not have to return with an envelope on his head.
Today as I reflect on my Dad’s decision to embrace the unknown, I realized that the road from ‘here’ to ‘there’ is not usually a straight path for most people. You can only know what lies behind a closed door by opening the door and stepping out.
I could have been anywhere or somewhere else, but I am here today because he took a RISK that changed our lives.
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