I was talking to a group of secondary school students recently, in one of the more posh schools in Lagos. I began with a question: “How many of you would rather not be in school?”
Maybe half the class raised their hands. (If we’d had parents there, I’m guessing at least that many would have been shocked.)
I followed up with: “Imagine you’re given 2 pills, yeah? Like in The Matrix. Take pill #1 and you’re destined to a life path packed full of fun; take pill #2 and your life is guaranteed to be filled with meaning. You can take only one pill, and once you pick, you can’t change your mind – or your fate. Which would you pick?”
Most of the kids picked pill #2.
It was the reason for their choices, however, that I found really striking. One kid pointed out, “You get tired of fun.” I agreed with her, pointing out how I – and kids to this day, including them – get bored stiff halfway through holidays just mere weeks long.
Others had a worried look as they considered the two options. They evidently hadn’t thought of it that way before, and I imagined them thinking, “Do I really want to miss out on fun for life?” before finally settling for pill #2.
Some chose pill #1, of course. But not as many as I might have expected.
(I should mention that I pointed out at the end that the question was a bit of a trick one – as they might have observed, reality isn’t quite that simple. But sometimes you need to oversimplify reality to get its core. More on that in a future post.)
How about you? What pill would you take – and more importantly, why?
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