The Nigerian who saw Alexander the Great in his dream and wished he handled the Gordian knot differently

My neighbour has been worried as most Nigerians about current developments in Nigeria. Good for him, whenever he goes to bed mindful of troubling matters, he takes the matters to dreamland, where sometimes, he witnesses very strange dimensions to the matters. He sees all kinds of perspectives and interpretations of the matters at hand. And more importantly, he sees persons from the distant past sharing some of these perspectives. Sometimes, he wonders how he recognizes these persons whom he never got to see when they were alive on earth. Nothing I say will make him change his mind about the identity of these persons.

We were back at that same square again just yesterday when he said he saw Alexander the Great in his dream. He knew I’ve always admired the great conqueror even though I cannot tell anyone that I can recognize him if given the chance to see him. Perhaps, he knew my admiration for Alexander the Great or maybe it was just coincidence. Something inside of me asked me to calm down and let him tell his tale. If the answers are locked in dreamland and some persons with access to that realm are gracious to share with us, what they have found, should we not pocket our pride and let them lead the way?

Heavily drunk on the brew of perplexity, my neighbour woke up on the other side with some of the feeling of perplexity lingering still. As he eyes gradually adjusted to the new setting, he found a pair of eyes looking fondly at him. He roused himself quickly from the floor upon recognizing the owner of the pair of eyes staring at him – Alexander the Great! Suddenly, he felt a rush of questions welling up inside of him. As he opened his mouth to let out the questions, he hardly paused for a detailed answer before jumping to the next question. At first, he did not notice the great man’s patience and calm answers to his questions. He took his time to answer the questions even if the questioner was busy preparing his next question instead of listening attentively. It must be said that the degree of perplexity in the world today is proportional to the decreased attention span of most persons in the world. Because the world is high on speed and rush, the degree of perplexity is continually on the high. Nature may permit some times to be rushed or microwaved. But not all things in nature may be rushed or microwaved. It is wisdom to know the difference.

My neighbour said he didn’t know what made him shut up. But he did. And noticed the smile that escaped from the side of the great man. “You chose right. You would never have found it in the rush. Asking perplexing questions and not waiting to hear the answers before throwing in other questions is  like me facing the Gordian Knot, many, many years ago. Do you know how I felt when I could not untie the knot? I know the feeling many Nigerians have about her peculiar knot. But do you know how I felt when I could not untie the Gordian knot? I felt powerless, impotent, inept, incapable, incompetent. How do you think it made me feel to associate my great self with those categories? Can you now see why I pulled out my famous sword and cut the knot instead of waiting patiently to untie it? You must have known by now that my reign was brief, contrary to the expectations of many people, including myself. So, what would you have done, if you were in my shoes?”

“I would not have used the sword to cut the knot but I would have waited patiently to untie the knot,” my neighbour answered. Alexander the Great smiled at the answer but asked a follow up question, “How do you know the knots you may cut and the knots you must patiently untie?” Unfortunately, he did not get to hear my neighbour’s answer as the piercing sound from a welder’s generator next door broke into the conversation and he woke up.

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