On Buffering

I moved back to Lagos from Chicago a few years back.

Back in Chicago as I was boxing up my things to have them shipped to Lagos, I made sure to work on my mind and my expectations as well. So when I made it to O’Hare that spring morning for the first of my flights to Lagos, I was ready. My bags were packed. The shipping boxes were on the high seas. I had a book to read and some snacks. I had made allowances for the crappy NYSC Camp bathrooms. And for the crappy treatment in NYSC Camp. I had purchased white shorts and white tees because I didn’t expect to get a uniform that I could actually use. I had prepared myself for Lagos traffic and Lagos driving. And for the heat that comes with equator living. And for the power outages. So I was ready to adapt to the Lagos life and thrive. Or so I thought.

What I had not planned for was the crappy cell phone service and abysmal internet. In my first days here, I had several internet modems, quite a few SIM cards and a wifi router, and all that didn’t stop my TED talks from buffering. And this used to get on my very last nerve. Sometimes I’ll spend an hour trying to watch a five minute talk and by the time I got to the end of the talk, I couldn’t even remember what the beginning was about. ‘Frustrating’ does not even begin to describe it. And then one day, I finally figured it out: the solution was not to hit refresh frantically on my browser or the app. The solution was to get a better connection. Interestingly, there was this one modem that gave consistently decent results, but I didn’t always have access to it. So when I could, I would typically just switch to that one and watch my talks. Happy camper!

Simple, right? The best solutions are. It’s been a few years since then, but every so often, I’m reminded of the experience. Sometimes, I go over a situation multiple times – hundreds of times in many cases. I go back and forth. I think and rethink. I ask questions that I don’t need the answers to. And here’s the sad part: the more I do it, the more I want to do it. Buffering begets more buffering. I don’t like to buffer. It’s a waste of my time and energy. So I made a decision to stop buffering. When I have a challenge, I either do something to fix it or I figure out how to live with it. And if I truly apply myself and think through a challenge/ situation one time, and I am not able to reach a resolution, I take my hands off it and give it to God, who is a much better thinker than me. I understand now that rethinking is not going to do anything unless something dramatic has happened or there is some new information. Most of the time the answers come to me when I’m not worrying about them.

This is not always easy, but I give it my best shot. And the results are addictive.

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