When I was young, I dreamt about a lot of things. I wanted to be a writer, writing stuff that genuinely changed people’s lives. I wanted to have a large farm of coffee in the Viphya Hills of Rumphi. I wanted to be married to the most beautiful girl (thankfully I did) and have the most handsome and intelligent couple of children. Please understand me, these were my dreams.
I wanted to get to the apex of education and stay in the best of locations in town. Dreaming in colour. I dreamed of visiting lots of different parts of the world and see how people actually lived, beyond the tourist areas.
When I graduated with my first degree, I was fortunate to get a relatively well paying job. A job that made me buy a car the first year and stay in a relatively good house and good location—at least for a fresh Malawian graduate. A location that also had a few nice women strolling past my house and some nice night clubs within reach. I had to make some choices. I was at cross-roads. I could be financially responsible and start preparing for the colour dreams or chase short-lived life styles. I chose the former.
I resolved that education was the best treasure of resources. My mum and dad used to tell me: “People can steal all that is yours but they will never steal your brains.” I started looking for Masters Degree scholarships. I looked really hard failing to clinch a couple in the process until I landed one. I also looked for an ambitious woman, a woman who values and cherishes education. I found her –without hesitation, I took her to the altar and put a ring on her finger.
While studying for my Masters, and later PhD, I spent my spare time practicing my writing and spending time with my family. If I was not buying a book, I was socking away the little savings I could make so that it could help my family during the lean times of chasing our dreams. I spent very little on myself but on my brains and my family.
You see, when you are an old person, your regret is unlikely to be ‘I did not buy that curved panel television or that Lexus.’ What you might regret is the thought that you spent your money on short-term stuff instead of on opportunities that could help you live your full potential – opportunities to follow your creative professional and financial dreams. Opportunities to be what you potentially are supposed to be as opposed to chasing work you do not enjoy but have to do for its money.
Reaching old age without regret is when you can reach a certain advanced age (not necessarily very old) and say ‘Eureka! I no longer need to work, I have reached my dreamland.’
For me, it was really a simple choice for my old-age. No regrets. What is your choice?
Have a blessed and regret-free weekend. n