i walked a marathon yesterday with my youngest daughter, bethany. from the camaraderie aspect, walking a marathon is very similar to hiking. a bunch of people get together to do something that they want to do simply because they enjoy doing it. additionally, walking allows those in close proximity to each other to chat for a few minutes as they slowly pass each other. or even become a temporary friend group for support and companionship.
the walkers started 2 hours before the runners with the idea that everyone would finish closer to the same clock time instead of starting at the same time and finishing at radically different clock times. it could not have been more than 3 minutes from the start line. we had to cross a major street. a course attendant was at the street to stop traffic and said to the group, “continue straight.” a walker retorts to the group, something to the effect, “can he even say straight with political correctness?” it was dark and i didn’t complete an official survey, but it appeared that just about everyone chuckled.
why nigerians are so happy
as bethany and i walked along, we chatted about all sorts of things. no idea how we arrived on the topic, but my experience with people from nigeria is that they seem to be genuinely, considerably happier than your normal, natural born american. i worked with a company that employed a fair number of nigerians and every single one had this happiness about them. i found it incredible. it was a sincere pleasure to go perform work at their company because they were just fun to be around.
i think it was maybe an hour or so into the marathon and a walker joined bethany and i. she had been in front of us with a group. then she slowed down and as we passed by she simply kept pace with us. we walked the rest of the marathon together. as we were walking and talking, she mentioned that she had gone/returned to nairobi a number of times. she had also been to ghana. i can’t recall the order of events, but i do know that a man walking a faster pace than us passed by, they greeted each other, hugged, and then he carried on. she described him as her brother-in-law. i couldn’t make the connection. laughingly, she tells me he’s married to a nigerian, so that makes him her brother-in-law. oh, and they just met each other this morning. i kinda laughed, mainly because she was chuckling as she told us. at some point, i asked her about nairobi, assuming that was where she grew up based on her speaking of nairobi frequently. she said she wasn’t from nairobi. i apologized saying i assumed that based on her talking about it, and then asked where she was born. nigeria, she said. aaahhh…now the brother-in-law thing clicked.
let me say, the order of our conversation is fuzzy. i know things were talked about, i just can’t fully remember the sequence. i think it was at this time that i mentioned to her how i earlier told bethany that i find nigerian people to just be so happy. now, i understand why she is so friendly and happy.
i then ask, “why are nigerians that come to america so happy?”
“because we are in a country where one can work hard and have success. in nigeria, one can work hard their entire life and never realize any success.”
she adds later on through our walk and talk that she is amazed and grateful every day. “in nigeria, to have electricity almost everyone has to have a generator. when you wake up in the morning, you have to go turn it on. you have to turn it off at night before you go to sleep. over here, all i have to do is flip a switch. here there is fresh, running water at the turn of a faucet. we have bathrooms inside our home. i’ve been here 20 years and every single day i am thankful and grateful. it is amazing.” all this was said with a genuine smile on her face.
it really doesn’t take that much to be truly happy. or rather, i think the moral is that happiness comes through being thankful.
at some point, the subject of my long distance hiking came up. i talked about hiking the colorado trail.
she asked if i did it alone.
i responded “yes, it was just me hiking in the mountains.”
there was a short pause. then she said simply, “that sounds so peaceful.”
me: “you get it! you are the first person that has ever said that. almost universally, the response i get is ‘why?’ ”
her: “the solitude and nature. just walking along, finding yourself with your thoughts. the rhythm of walking. it just provides a clarity.”
a soft, long, slow, protracted, and relieved . . .
eeeexxxxaaaaccccttttllllyyyy. there is someone that understands.
a lot gets talked about in 6 hours.
femi, wherever you are, i enjoyed our 6 hours together. your company added warmth to the rain soaked day and the hours flew by. may you achieve your future marathon goals and spread your thankfulness.
Sounds like a great day.
it was not too bad.