I woke up this morning to 72 new messages. They were all emanating from the same mysterious WhatsApp source. I thanked God for the blessing and privilege of seeing a new day then I sluggishly reached for my phone. Silencing the first alarm of the morning and staring somewhat nervously at the notification I wondered ‘What on Earth could this be? Who was looking for me? Why?’ I hoped everything was okay and made a move to get to the bottom of the mystery.
I unlocked my phone with my thumb and navigated towards WhatsApp. The source that contained the bulk of the messages didn’t look familiar at all. Warily I read the title, it was short, sweet and straight to the point – just like the group admin, Nandi. It simply said “Friday Game Night.” My trepidation melted. The conversation had kicked off and picked up (in my absence) with all sorts of suggestions and enthusiasm coming from known and unknown contacts. Bottom line: Nandi was convening a game night, this Friday, come if you want – it’s happening.
The following day three of us met up for dinner and I fell in love with the overarching philosophy. Simply put she shared it as ‘Here Plus Now.’ She told how she had stumbled across someone’s Instagram page that shared contagious fun moments the individual was experiencing then and there. And how he coined his seize the day philosophy as ‘here plus now.’ She further explained how she had recently been having conversations about how most people want to observe rather than participate. They want to plan and pine rather than living in their own here, right now. She decided to rebel. She stopped talking and started doing – stepping off the sidelines and into the game.
I found her observations resonated with me. I’m sure many of us have been known to pine over others’ vacation pictures and catchy captions. We “wish we were there,” but are not actively taking steps to get there. Most often jumping all that’s here, right in front of us, and ascribing those feelings to a far off location that thousands of miles and hundreds of thousands of naira away. Sometimes we stumble across pictures and videos that help us see our cities through tourists’ eyes and we are reminded that there are hidden gems everywhere. Places to go, events to attend, things to do and memories to make. Most times many of us are guilty of promising we’ll go to an exotic location at some time and then the fun will commence. Meanwhile we shun the plays, concerts, dinners and random events and hangouts happening at lovely locations right here and right now where we are.
We might spend our time instead looking longingly at someone else’s (local) social media account which depicts them having fun with people we know in places we pass by. Sometimes we fail to see the opportunities and excitement that exists right on our doorstep. We don’t need to prove that we are having fun, we just need to have fun. Pictures posted for public consumption do not cement one’s presence in a moment, so this is not about opening a travel blog or an ‘explore the city’ Instagram account. It is about living more and looking on less. Watching someone else’s story or viewing their pictures should come with a sense of recognition of the places, the joy, and the kindred spirit of being present in the moment. Especially when we have similar access to similar places and resources.
If we are tired of spectating then we need to start participating. If you feel like you are not living your best life and admire those who are more adventurous and outgoing – become more adventurous and outgoing. However if you are happy with your current race, pace and participation rate this article is not meant to disrupt your equilibrium. Carry on and keep on loving the life you’re living.
Nandi decided to make the necessary adjustments for what she wanted. Rather than ruminate on what she heard she immediately sprung into action. Creating the here and now she wanted, dragging friends along for the ride with the option to jump out of the moving vehicle, but with the reassurance that someone had stepped off the sidelines and was coaching this quarter of the game with the objective of maximum fun and immediate memories.
Having just attended the one-year memorial of my thirty-year old friend, mentor, brother, confidant and all round angel, Ugonna, I immediately embraced her optimism and enthusiasm towards living here plus now. After all part of what made his life so impactful was the fact that he was always here and did everything with a ‘now’ urgency. Whether it was giving, building, helping, laughing, loving, seizing opportunities, worshipping or simply living his best life.
We have been given the present of this present moment. We have been gifted here and this particular here will only be present for now. So the onus is on us to (really) live here, and for us to do so now. Yes let’s plan, let’s save, let’s pray and let’s have long-term goals and ambitions, but let us also plan sporadic events and outings, love and express it, laugh and mean it and spontaneously spend time with those we love. Let us pause the work and press play once in a while. Why? Because here we are, this is our now.
These opportunities to make memories, to deepen relationships, to love, to laugh and to embrace our immediate existence will never quite happen again quite the same. They are precious and they are priceless and we owe it to ourselves to be fully present in them. Life is too long and too short, too blessed and too filled with unknown elements up ahead to be serious all the time, to be future focused every second of the day and to ignore the option of living out loud ‘here plus now.’