"In all, Metushelach lived 969 years; then he died."- Moses, The Book of Genesis
PicturePhotography by Joseph Osei-Bonsu

    There was once a man who lived in the Earth: his name was Metushelach. The only thing that was said or written about him was that; he was born, he lived for 969 years fathering sons and daughters, and then he died. He was, and is, the oldest man to have ever lived in this planet. Yet, his obviously lengthy life story was abbreviated into no more than 5 short sentences. Metushelach's life was treated like a very, very short summary - a blurb. This is because his death was more important than his living. You see, Metushelach's name means 'His death shall bring...'. Thus, by dying, Metushelach would engender a great event or change: his death death shall bring the Great Flood. And this is exactly what happened. In the year Metushelach died, the whole earth, was engulfed in a 40-day period of flooding, which would only recede after the better part of a year. The 969 years of Metushelach's life was just the prelude to the greatest impact and change the then world would ever experience. His long life was just a backstory for the Great Flood.

    Metushelach's story is like most of other people's. They live, work, marry, give birth to 3.5 kids, buy a house, acquire a couple of cars, some properties, and then they die. Or at least, that's what is read in their eulogies or on their tombstones. Their entire life is one big backstory to the most significant thing they ever did: die. Most of these people focus on the things that happen to them, tragedies and joyous occasions alike. They spend their lives reacting to the situations, people and environments around them, in pursuit of self-preservation and significance in their worlds. The irony of all of this is that, they never achieve this elusive dream of permanent self-preservation and significance. This is because life doesn't reward us for reacting to the situations it throws in our paths. Yet, they believe that the ability to build a mansion is the reward they get for simply responding to one of the basic questions of life: 'Where will you live?'. They fail to realize that responding to a Stanford University assignment or examination only rewards you with a degree, with better job prospects. A college degree doesn't guarantee security or significance of any sort. As far as life and the world is concerned, anything that is done for the sake of survival and self-importance, is a mere backstory to the rising action of another great story. In other words, as long as you're reacting to your life's predicaments, you're simply part of a very short backstory. The truly great stories of our lives begin when we engage in a much-needed proactive change, in our own lives. 
    Every great story is centred around the climax and the conflict between the protagonist and his opposition. This is the primary focus of both the writer and the reader of the story. None of them spends most of the time developing or reading the backstory. Because the ultimate question about your life story is not, 'How did it begin?'; the ultimate question is always this: 'How does it end?'. Pause. Put down your pen. Think. Pick up your pen, again. Finish the backstory quickly. Now turn a new leaf. Begin the great story of your life.



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