Have you ever imagined your life in an alternate reality?

Life is good. Or maybe not so good, but you’re getting by.

So far, your life has followed a predictable trajectory and the future looks bright. Everything in your life is going well.

But have you ever imagined yourself with a completely different reality from what you have now? That was the thought that crossed my mind while stuck in traffic on the third mainland bridge today.

Right there on the Lagos Lagoon, I saw some locals on boats, some idling away, some neck-deep in the water trying to scoop something I don’t know out of the water, while others were adjusting their fishing net before casting it in the water.

As deplorable as their living condition might have seemed to many of us stuck in nice cars on the bridge, the emotion that first hit me wasn’t pity. Rather, the scenery threw me into a reflective mode as I tried to imagine myself in their world if realities were switched.

What if I, like them, grew up in those slums and all I could ever do to make a living was to paddle up and down the sea in search of fish or anything else that could be exchanged for money?

I have read countless stories about people that grew up in similar conditions and found a way to break out of the poverty around them. Would I have been that motivated to break out too?

What if like many of them, I never had a chance at a good education and my capacity to communicate with others is limited to whatever little ‘broken English’ I am able to pick up while growing up, what value would have to leverage on in the society?

As I kept ruminating on these thoughts, the blaring horn from another car jolted me back to reality. My reality. It was a good mental exercise that took me to another man’s world and back to mine.

Now I have a better understanding of what it feels like to “be in another man’s shoes”.

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