The Science of Happening to the World

How do you happen to the world? How do you make a mark and hold the rest of the world in admiration? Well, you would be happy to know that it’s not rocket science.

Few weeks ago, when I received a call from my uncle that I had to meet him at a nearby location in 20 minutes, I knew it was time to visit his younger brother who just arrived from America, visiting.

This particular scenario wasn’t an isolated one as I often receive plenty calls that leave me in a position where I have to find people at unfamiliar or poorly-described places. It took me an extra 25 minutes to find my uncle upon arriving at the rendezvous.

Then we set off. We had just one stop to beat before getting to the hotel where his younger brother lodged. Where we alighted that one time, the junction extended into two roads, one of which was a one-way express. That was the one we had to cross.

Vehicles moved to and fro, but only one of the line was frantically busy; the other, not so much. So my uncle, in characteristic Lagosian fashion, sandwiched himself in between two model cars on our path when a temporary traffic kicked in and, without watching out for the other line of oncoming vehicles, he made to cross onto the other side.

The roar of an oncoming van and a close brush with the left flank saw him reeling back in a theatrical mixture of shock and adrenaline. Thankfully, the traffic from our side of the road hadn’t eased yet. He simply watched the road again, and more carefully this time, then crossed to the other side.

It was indeed a close shave and he was probably oblivious of the dual structure of the road movement that day, but that would have been no excuse, and hardly would it have mattered, had he been hit.

Despite the severity, that wasn’t even what was particularly disconcerting about the experience. That was bad enough, yes, but I was taken aback by how there was no dramatic epilogue to the event, as we would definitely have had had he been fatally hit.

In contrast, no one screamed. No one’s gaze lingered. The driver drove on ahead at unrelenting speed and my uncle just swaggered on with unchanging gait. Give it 5 seconds tops and you might have wondered if anything of such even happened.

Of course, I would regain my mental composure and realize that this was entirely typical.

People do not care about what almost happened.

We do not care if you almost did. We’re more receptive of stories that make us ask, “how did it happen?” than stories that elicit “why didn’t it happen?”, even though the latter is very beneficial for investigative curiosity.

Tell us a story but make sure the story happened and we will be asking, “where?”. That’s what matters, engagement and evangelism.

Since life began as we know it, a lot of people have died in it. But more dreams have died than people have. These dreams didn’t happen. A lot almost did, but we don’t hear about them because they didn’t happen. We weren’t even opportune to doubt these dreams, to ask, “is that possible?”

They simply weren’t worth it. They didn’t happen.

So many times you’ve let an ambition go with the excuse that there’s enough time or enough ideas to make up for the loss of one, and so many times we’ve seen authors and musical artistes attain fame only after several attempts with their crafts. They never know the one release that will make them happen in the way they want to.

The same way you never know if it’s one idea you’re thinking of discarding that will turn out to be your passkey into fame and recognition.

But you can try. Like the author. Like the artiste. You can keep happening. Not every event make it to the tabloids, but one out of many make the difference. Not all your ideas will rake up widespread interest, but one might.

So keep trying. Try to always happen, to make things happen, no matter how little.

You would be irrelevant otherwise.

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