I woke up on Friday and my mind went to my cousin Frank who constantly pushed us to imagine a bigger and better life than what we were used to in Cross River.
I was sixteen when I left home completely on my own for the first time. Since then I’ve been to over 20 states in Nigeria.
Some of these places were pit stops, some I passed through and some I lived in for some time.
I’m not even where I want to be yet, but a part of me strongly feels every man should leave their hometown at age sixteen, or at least eighteen, or at latest twenty-five.
Travelling to previously uncharted territory in this age and time might be the closest thing to signing up for the army or going to war as our ancestors did back in the day.
It’s one of the biggest tests of mental strength.
And that’s aside from the lifelong friendships and once in a lifetime experiences you’ll accumulate.
I look at my life and everything that has happened to me over the last nine years and I’m grateful because Cross River had little or nothing to offer us in terms of ambition.
Instead, it had everything that would blunt ambition: food (lots of it), alcohol (copious amounts of cheap premium ogogoro), beautiful women, familiarity, ease and comfort.
Kids would go to the same primary and secondary schools as their parents.
End up at the same universities with the same people they grew up with and went to primary and secondary school with.
Work at the same offices as their uncles and aunts or just go on to manage their parent’s businesses or break out and do the same businesses.
Live and know the same people for decades, drink at the same spots, engage in a few uninspiring ventures, fuck the same women and do the same damn thing every day.
Which of course, isn’t a bad thing.
Because as much as I’m a big advocate of stepping outside your comfort zone, especially in the pursuit of success and a better life, I’m not claiming everyone who left was successful.
I know a couple of people who weren’t.
But I also know a lot of people who didn’t succeed and came back and used their experience to become huge successes back home.
This clearly shows when it comes to travel, the education is in the journey, not the destination.
This is also why I don’t feel like anywhere is a permanent homeland for me.
Lagos, Ibadan, Asaba, Anambra, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Cross River.
There are all just spots in the journey.
Maybe my Igbo roots are the reason why, or maybe I’m chasing something or who knows? Maybe something is chasing me.
But I guess Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said it best:
“Own only what you can carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag”
And that’s why I’ll forever travel light – no big bags, no large suitcases, no oversized luggage.
Because memories and experiences are mostly everything you need.
Thank you, Frank Obinna.