…1976: Just the same year Lieutenant Colonel B.S Dimka and his accomplices released the bullets that killed former Head of State, General Murtala R. Muhammad in a coup d’état in Lagos, an English rock band, known as Smokie, released a song titled “Living Next Door To Alice” that turned out a big hit. My dad had not known my mum when the song was released, and therefore I wasn’t born then.
But today, its lyrics and the message it conveys make it one of the interesting songs I have ever listened to. If you haven’t heard the song yet, let me quickly share with you what it’s about. A young man was silently in love with a lady called Alice who he’d been living next door to for twenty-four years. Both of them grew up knowing each other as neighbours, but he didn’t know how to tell her that he was deeply in love with her. Anytime the word was about to be published from his mouth, it seemed as though someone had just cast a spell on him that rendered him dumb! If by a quirk of fate he met Alice alone in the park, he suffered a loss of nerve to say the word until he eventually put the idea off to a later time. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months turned into years yet he couldn’t gather the chutzpah to walk up to Alice and share his feeling. This protracted hesitance lasted for a long time until one fateful day the news broke that Alice was leaving to an unknown place! At first he thought it was a fib, but when he dashed to his window and looked outside, he saw that it was real―Alice was truly leaving! The young man was highly devastated. He was devastated because for 24-long years he’d been with Alice, yet he couldn’t express his true emotion to her, and now she was gone! He grieved over his monumental loss with the following statement, “Now I’ll never get used to not living next door to Alice…” Okay, I’m not here to push the song, but if you’d allow me some few minutes, I’ll share with you a powerful thought…
…Did that young man have an opportunity to go after his dream? No, he didn’t! Actually, he had 8760 opportunities (using a mathematical baseline of 365 days) to transform his dream into reality. But did he make use of them? Of course, he did! He spent all of them waiting, hoping, floundering, and praying for the right opportunity to show up. Alas, before his right opportunity could arrive, his dream had already departed, leaving him yelping in utter regret! Just like that young man, many talented individuals miss the boat of their dreams simply because they’re waiting for just the right opportunity or they possess some thought of fear in getting onboard to chart their lives forward. Ironically, when you spend time with some of these fellows, you’d get enthused by the way they let you in on their big, sugar-tasting dreams. But when you ask them what they’re doing to transform these dreams into reality, they immediately switch gear and begin to point to you a date in the future when the work would commence. They keep taking a rain check on these dreams until one day it becomes obvious that they’ve lost out in moving their lives to a higher level. Two weeks ago, a close friend clued me in about an experience he had with a young lady while he was travelling for an exam. This young, silver-tongued damsel, who’d just completed her second degree, shared with him her great passion of starting her own talk show on TV. Convinced that this young damsel had a well-defined dream, my friend civilly asked, “So, what have you started doing to make this dream a reality?” As if someone had just pricked her balloon of dreams with a needle, she uttered, “Actually, nothing yet. I’m waiting for the right time to start putting things in place…”
…Dreams are cheap and everywhere. If you can’t buy them during the day, just sleep at night and you’d get them! If you can’t find them in your own head or heart, turn on your radio, TV set, or look around you and you’d find them in the heads or hearts of others. But life has taught me that, what makes these dreams expensive and significant isn’t really their existence, but the amount of actions you put in to make them a reality. If you must drive your life forward, if you must turn your great dreams into reality, then you should cultivate the attitude of tapping into the enormous opportunities that are available to you today. Don’t withhold the seeds of action to life’s opportunities because you think the weather condition is not perfect. If you do, you’d not only miss planting the right action, but you’d also miss out when the harvest day comes. What great dream have you been carrying on your inside? What opportunities have you been allowing to slip through your fingers simply because you lack the courage to take action? In other words, how long have you been living with your own Alice next door? Maybe your own Alice is that childhood dream you’ve always had or that big vision that keeps ringing in your heart. Or, is it those little opportunities that you’ve disregarded in the past to make an impact or increase your chances of success in life. Whatever it is, walk straight to it and start now to do something meaningful about it before it turns out too late. A writer in ancient Rome, Publilius Syrus, once advised, “You should hammer your iron when it is glowing hot.” And I think there is no better time for you to start doing that to your great dreams than now!
…Let me take you back to the song above, and let’s do some modifications to the plot. Imagine after establishing that he was truly in love with Alice, that young man gallantly walked up to her, asked her for a date, and, to his greatest surprise, Alice gladly consented. Well, she didn’t only consent, but on that D-day she also appeared on her beautiful, blue dress that she had always reserved for a special occasion. When the young man saw her, he didn’t turn dumb rather he boldly walked to her, chivalrously told her how gorgeous she was and ushered her into the limousine. And then, some minutes into their stay at a beautiful restaurant, the young man confessed, “Alice, I know you may not have noticed it, but I’m really in love with you.” And then, with an artistic smile inscribed on her pretty face, Alice replied back, “Sure, I’m also in love with you.” Rather than grieving, the young man and Alice ended up getting married and lived happily ever after. Just as I’ve carried out this simple modification that changed everything, so also you’ve to modify the way you see your dreams and life opportunities. If you’d be bold enough to start doing something about your dreams and the various opportunities that abound in your life, then you’d know that nothing can actually stop you from bringing them into reality and moving your life to the top. The truth is that, your time is ticking! And for each day you live, you have one less day to live on planet earth. So, I would strongly advise that you approach the Alice of your life and start doing something about it before you leave or she leaves! See you at the top! Cheerio!
Chinonso is a motivational speaker, prolific writer, and entrepreneur whose singular mission in life is to educate and inspire individuals and organizations to unleash their limitless potentials and be the best that they can be.