Everything That Is Bad For Me

- on life preservation.

I was washing dishes while listening to the radio. Melodious music infused with afrobeats made the chore a breeze to go through and I could feel my head getting clearer with each washed plate I carefully arranged to dry in the tray. The next story that the woman on radio interrupted the flow with had something to do with Coca-cola and their products in Nigeria.

My interest piqued as I said a quick thank God that I hadn’t had coke in a long while. It was one of the first things I gave up in my quest to live a healthy lifestyle. Still, I opened my Twitter feed to learn more about what people were saying and it appeared that there were concerns over the levels of Benzoic acid — a preservative used in their products — in those being shipped to Nigeria.

People ran polls asking if others would stop consuming based on this new information, others like me said they had stopped consuming awhile ago anyway, and others still, couldn’t be less bothered — after all, na something wey go still kill person one day.

Making better decisions for your overall well being is something everyone loves to reap the benefits from. Harnessing the will power to reap those benefits is where we all say the struggle lies. You have all this knowledge, and all that’s left is to put it to good use, changing your routine one day, month, year at a time until this becomes life.

I could see how I could make better decisions waking up early from an eight hour sleep I decided because I chose to sleep early, and choosing to go for a run immediately after.

Or deciding to eat fish instead of lots of red meat I’d been accustomed to.

Or deciding to walk a short distance when I had a car.

What I couldn’t see was making a better decision when I had no money to buy food the night before, so I go to lectures hungry with thoughts about Gala and Coke, thoughts of exercise far away from my mind.

Or deciding on what and what I will eat when what I have now is exactly that — what I have now.

Or walking when I’m too exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally to pass up an opportunity to take anything that makes me get home faster.

It seemed that the ability to make better decisions came with the premise of a somewhat full life — mentally, physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually — where needs are met somewhat regularly.

I would plan my life a lot better if the electricity was constant. My phone battery would thank me for it because I wouldn’t constantly be feeding it with charge, for fear that the battery would go flat before the standard ‘on’ time for generators in Nigeria. There would be no need to rush around trying to squeeze in some of the clothes I’ve been wanting to iron just before I head out to somewhere I’m already late to.

I could put off the freezer sometimes, because the ice was getting too much. I could let my laptop die intentionally, so I could charge it from the beginning again because doing that sometimes is a good way to preserve its battery life.

I could wake up in the night and be greeted with night lights and reading lamps instead of total darkness.

My life would take on a rhythm like is was actually a living, breathing, sentient. and not just some erratic insect.

What I knew did not change. I knew that I was harming my phone batteries by constantly charging it, and I also knew that I could get some work done in the wee hours of the night.

But who cares about all that when an immediate basic need is lacking?

I think Rutger Bregman said it best in his TED talk, which I happened to listen to only after I’d had these thoughts marinating for a while below the surface of my consciousness, in which he said, “Poverty isn’t a lack of character, it’s a lack of cash”, and which I’d expand to include, the lack of basically basic amenities and the ability to provide such for one’s self/family.

I started using the term, life preservation, to describe this — not describing life in the sense that one merely exists, but in that one truly lives.

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Adaku Nwakanma

Adaku Nwakanma

I write about digital product design.