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To open or to close?

February 04, 2014

I don’t know about your neighborhood but where I live, there seems to have a serious mosquito invasion. I am no scientist but I can almost bet that the species of mosquitos we are being attacked by are more resilient and more resistant to the usual insecticides we use. We’ve always known that mosquitoes attack us at night and so we do everything possible to make sure they don’t get us. We sleep under insecticide-coated nets and use mosquito repellent in the late evenings to keep them away from us. Unfortunately, this new breed of mosquitoes has upped its game and it seems like it is immune to any kind of common insecticide. Besides, a study done three years ago shows that there is a new breed of mosquitoes that is infecting people with malaria during the day. Could this be it?

I have discovered that one sure way of ensuring you finish them is by swatting them with those rechargeable insect tasers that look like tennis rackets; they fry the mosquitoes on impact. The other alternative is by using your own bare hands, thus making you look like you are clapping – the good thing about this is that your neighbors think you are one happy person. The only challenge with these two options is that they are both time consuming in that you have to go around the house hunting for mosquito after mosquito, and for the tasers, they are not very durable. In fact, if anyone knows someone looking for broken tasers, please contact me. I have a sack-load of them.

So, back in my house, to prevent them from getting into the house, we always make sure we close the doors and windows between 4pm in the evening and 10am in the morning. However, this in itself is a challenge because people still need to come in and out of the house and so you can’t lock them out. So any time the door is opened, you can rest assured a number of them come in. All the same, I have noticed it is possible to keep them out if we make sure the doors are kept closed at all times, but unfortunately, not everyone in the house is conscious of this and so many are the times the door will be left open, thus allowing an army of mosquitoes to come through unrestricted.

Speaking of “doors”, what are they really? Do they have any symbolic value to our lives? To quote one online dictionary, “A door is a movable structure that acts as a barrier to an entrance or exit to a room, vehicle or a building. It is generally made up of a panel that swings on hinges”. I am sure you knew this, but let’s think deeper about its purpose for a minute. Does a door have the ability to work on its own? No. It doesn’t matter whether it is a revolving door, an electric door or a normal wooden door, someone or something (a remote control or sensor) has to control its movement. The person controlling it determines when to open it, when to close it, who to open it for and who to lock out.

Our lives are full of doors that only we can control. We decide when to enter or exit through them, just as we decide who to allow through them. Let’s look at the doors of friendship and relationships for instance. Do you know that no one becomes your friend or enemy without your conscious decision to allow that to happen? Yes, you may have met by chance but the decision to keep that friendship/relationship going after you met is a decision you make as an individual. It is a door you decide to either open or close. The problem comes in when you become heartbroken, hurt and bitter, then you realize too late it was the wrong door to open. Unfortunately not many people are able to close such a door after it opens and as a result, we have very many miserable people roaming the face of this earth, staying in unhealthy relationships that drain them and suck on their blood like the mosquitoes in our neighborhood do. If you are in such a place, do yourself a favor and close that door to keep those “mosquitoes” away.

Then we have the doors of progress. The older I get the more I realize that success, progress and growth are all determined by the doors we ourselves open. For instance, who do you hang out with? How do they influence your thoughts, decisions or actions? Are they progressive, or retrogressive? This brings to mind the old saying “show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are”. Why is this the case? Because you cannot be in the company of people whose ideologies and habits you do not like. They say “birds of a feather flock together” and so whenever you are spotted in the company of certain people it is assumed that you are in agreement with whatever they stand for and that’s why you are in their company. Like I said earlier, you have the power to choose the people you want to allow in your life, just like you have the power to shut others out. Use your “doors” wisely.

When we were in school I remember we used to learn sayings and one that stands out for me today is, “no man is an island”. Those days it never made much sense to me but today it does. It does not matter what kind of business you are in, whether you are selling dog food, or cow feed, in the end you will have to talk to human beings in order to sell them the dog food or cow feed. Of course you didn’t expect the cows or dogs to come shopping for their own food now, did you? If they did, I don't think you'd wait for them to make the order anyway because I'm certain you will have taken off for your life. As it is, there's this donkey that spoke to its owner in the Bible and we all know how the owner reacted. Anyway, moving on, besides talking to people about your products, you need the same people to talk about your products/services on your behalf in order for you to grow your customer base. The easiest and fastest way to do this is by using your own personal network and that of your friends. So how do you do this if you don’t have any friends/network to talk to? Like someone said, “your network is your net-worth”. Use your “doors” to usher in the right networks and keep out the wrong networks.

On the other hand, not all doors you open are supposed to be opened. To quote a friend who boldly posted this on his Facebook wall, “Folks I would like to urge you to close some doors in your lives today. Close them not because of pride, arrogance, ego, incapacity or otherwise, but because they simply add no value to your life and lead to -----> NOWHERE!!!! You know which doors I refer to. Be bold and close them immediately and see how liberating that is.....” They could be doors of corruption, doors of infidelity, doors of witchcraft, doors of …. (fill in the blanks yourselves). The truth is some doors are best left shut permanently, because opening them could bring you more bad than good.

In conclusion friends I’d like to say this; may God give us all wisdom to know what doors to close and what doors to leave open. May He give us the courage to close the ones that need to be closed (keeping the mosquitoes out) and the faith to open new doors that will bring in fresh air to our lives.

The key is in your hands. Use it to open/close the right doors in your life this week and this month.

PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 2nd February, 2014, under my weekly column"Thoughts in Words".



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