He felt a slight touch; then another touch. It appeared someone was trying to wake him up. As he struggled to open his eyes, he heard the most surprising words of his life, “Your Highness… Your Highness your ride awaits you”. “If those words are meant for me,” he thought, “I must still be dreaming. I should keep sleeping then”. He heard the words again, this time, the touch was firmer. Finally, he opened his eyes and saw the best-looking, well dressed and cultured man he had ever seen. It was strange though that the man looked like him.
“Sir”, the man said, “You don’t want to miss your ride do you?” Then it all came back to him. He was to make a year-long journey and had packed his things. The prospect of the journey was so gloomy that he slept off in depression. Unfortunately, he couldn’t sleep away his misery because there he was again facing the very life he wanted to escape. But he wasn’t supposed to travel with anyone so who was the man?
“Your Highness, are you ready?” The man asked him. “What is this ‘Highness’ nonsense you are saying? You’ve got the wrong address.” He told the man. “No Sir! I’m in the right place.” “Does any ‘Highness’ live in a ‘Lowness’ place as this?” He asked the man. “Well” the man replied, “It is not where you live that determines your royalty. It is who you are. We are all waiting for you.” Very alarmed, he screamed “We? All? Who else is there?” The man replied him gently, “There can’t be a ‘Highness’ without a kingdom, right? You think you are alone in life but whatever you say or do affects other people. Some people smile just because you smile and some give up because you discourage them. Look around you, more people look up to you than you know.”
He thought for a while then he told the man he wasn’t ready to leave. “Fear is not a problem; thinking you don’t have a choice than to fear is the problem.” The man told him. “Whether you are ready or not, you must still make this journey at the stroke of midnight. You can either prepare for it or spend the entire year wondering what hit you.” “But I don’t have anything valuable” He argued. The man answered, “All you need to begin with is your life. Death is the only way to escape the journey and you don’t want that. To know how valuable the life of a king is to a kingdom, ask yourself why an entire kingdom will go to war to defend its king and why there is no succession until a king dies. No one can replace you in the entire universe.”
Grudging he said, “Ok, let’s go. I’ll soon be back anyway”. But the man said, “No Sir, you will never return here. It will only remain as a memory forever.” “What!” He screamed. “But love it here! Ok, not that I love it here but I feel safe here. I feel protected here.” The man answered, “That is exactly why you need to leave. Venturing out is risky but it is the only path to success. You will never know how much you are capable of until you step out to try. A king that waits for battle to come to his castle before he fights has already been defeated. The past must never become a distraction from your future.”
Finally, he was ready to go. Soon, he found himself struggling with heavy baggage. “What are these?” The man asked. “My valuables”, he replied. “What is in them?” The man asked again. He hesitated, and then he said “My regrets, mistakes and failures of the year. You can see I have a load of them.” “You don’t need all these.” The man said. “Can’t you see they are too heavy for you?” “Well, yes” he replied, “But I need them as companions in the New Year”. The man spoke to him sternly, “No you don’t! What you need are the lessons you learnt from them and they are not half as heavy.” He replied the man, “We are saying the same thing aren’t we?” “No we aren’t”, the man insisted, “when you are admitted into a university for a four-year course, you write several tests, assignments, projects and examinations. When you graduate, however, you are only handed a single ‘cardboard’ called certificate. The certificate becomes the testimonial of your learning, not a heap of test and examination scripts. Your experience is in you and not in your baggage.”
Out of frustration, he shouted at the man, “Who are you anyway and why won’t you leave me to my life?” The man’s reply shocked him like a bucket of ice water on a snowy day. He said, “I am you at the end of the coming year. I am all you can become if you try. I am your destiny if only you can see it. There is a great difference between what you are and what you can become if you don’t give up. I won’t leave you to your life because it is mine too. If you don’t venture out, I will never exist. If you don’t become me, the world would have lost a leader. You think your decisions are yours alone but you are wrong; generations will pay for your action or inaction.”
Overwhelmed, he asked the man, “If I am you, and you are obviously superior to me, why do you honour me so much and call me ‘Your Highness’? The man replied with so much love, “I honour you because in you lies the seed that can create me. I will become the reward for the sacrifices you will make. Your Highness, the future awaits you!”