“If success has taught him anything, he says, it’s that when the once forbidden fruits of your labours are all laid for you on the table like a feast, you discover all you really want is pretty much is what you’ve always liked. “You always end up going for the French fries,” he said. “It’s sounds trite, but that’s what I’ve learned. But I guess you have to go through all that to realize that all the trappings and all the stuff are a little bit meaningless. Roman Abramovich and the Sultan of Brunei can buy the moon and still not be happy.””
I think about this more and more living in New York. Your eyes are always moving to the next thing, the pressure to buy, to own, to gain. It’s difficult to tease apart if discontent is a product of the environment or a base simplicity gained with age, but the trappings of self-doubt seem easily remedied through ‘things’.
The contour of happiness can be acquired for a few fleeting moments, but the simple pleasures are the ones that last, gently reminding you who you inescapably are, despite your best attempts to be something else in a city like this.
“April was too lonely a month to spend alone. In April, everyone around me looked happy. People would throw their coats off and enjoy each other’s company in the sunshine—talking, playing catch, holding hands. But I was always by myself.”
“I don’t like this expression “First World problems.” It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are. One event that illustrated the gap between the Africa of conjecture and the real Africa was the BlackBerry outage of a few weeks ago. Who would have thought Research In Motion’s technical issues would cause so much annoyance and inconvenience in a place like Lagos? But of course it did, because people don’t wake up with “poor African” pasted on their foreheads. They live as citizens of the modern world. None of this is to deny the existence of social stratification and elite structures here. There are lifestyles of the rich and famous, sure. But the interesting thing about modern technology is how socially mobile it is—quite literally. Everyone in Lagos has a phone.”