According to the Book of Proverbs King Solomon, who knew a thing or two about hope and despair, once blurted out, Hope deferred makes the heart sick, and for the last three months I feel like I have known just that; lurching — sometimes several times a day — between the delirious joy of looking forward to an adventure and the deep depths of despair. COVID-19 was the culprit, as were the not entirely unconnected issues of an oil supply glut and oil price wars leading to sub-zero oil futures pricing. That there was a clear cause-effect relationship did little to tame the perennial desire to find wider meanings in things that is our forte as Nigerians, cue warfare prayers from my near and dear ones, a la Mountain of Fire and all… It is admittedly selfish to quibble over a few months of lost earnings when the world was getting sick and dying in near-record numbers, but I suppose that comes with being human.
Thankfully, three months late or not, I now find myself out here by way of several gag-inducing throat swabs, nose jabs and multiplied hand washes. For what its worth, it feels like a reprieve of sorts, like someone yanked a big electric cable and forced a big reset for me; I had, after all, mentally begun to move on when I got the call late one Thursday that kicked off the long and tortuous road that brought me here. The road here has not been the smoothest, even discounting the tensions of the will-it-will-it-not phase. For some reason, Heathrow Terminal 2 was turned into a big one-way system with folk having to go all the way to the ground floor to then be turned around to the fifth for check-in. Between that and the rather warm day London was having, we had someone collapse a few feet away from us, cue looks from the periphery of the eye whilst paramedics — who took their darned time getting there by the way — tried to resuscitate her.
These are interesting times, thanks to the aforementioned COVID-19 (and all the precautions — some would say inconveniences — it adds to our life and the state of the oil industry which is very much in the bust part of the regular boom and bust cycles. There are thus existential questions to address — is this the final death knell for the oil industry, how might the new normal look like, how might one adapt and thrive within it and what is one’s place in it — alongside the culture and technical challenges posed by this move.
“Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee,” said John Donne. Set forth then we must. Welcome on the journey.