I’m not a religious zealot, but I’m fairly spiritual. I pray – most times. I fear God, and I love His son. (Can I hear an Amen?). I can’t quote scriptures though. I don’t read the Bible that much. Heck! I don’t even own one. But I’ll be buying one soon, surely I have to!
My thinking has substantively evolved over the past one year or so. See, I was this cocky guy. Thought I knew crap. Thought I made things happen. I was pretty impatient. Impatient with stuff; I wanted things now. Impatient with people; people I couldn’t reason with. Dullards. People I felt were deficient in intelligence or class. People I felt weren’t cultured enough. Or people whose language wasn’t polished enough, or who didn’t have the ‘right’ scent. I used to think that if you’re broke, then you weren’t working hard enough. Or if you’re poor, then you’re just lazy. Lazy or very daft. Not that I was snobbish or condescending towards them or anything, but I just didn’t think much about them. I didn’t give a damn. I was simplistic. Plain foolish. Foolish and pathetically vain.
My late teens and early twenties reeked of idealism. I was so wet behind the ears. I listened to a lot of Rhythm and Blues and thought life was one sweet song. I was kinda mushy. I idolized pop stars and Ronadinho. I wanted to be like Usher or Nicky Byrne, him of Westlife. I dreamt of studying in a premium Ivy League university. I dreamt of meeting a gorgeous ‘pointee’ with flowing hair and endless legs, fall in love, and croon Puzzle of my heart for eternity. I thought by this time I’d be residing in a posh apartment in an up market neighborhood. Probably having a full page column in a national newspaper, racking in good money, driving a white convertible Mercedes kompressor. Until reality checked in, and life threw me some curve balls…
Here’s the story…
I’m fairly ambitious so I somehow managed to meet some of my ‘by 27’ targets. No posh apartment or up market neighborhood, but decent apartment in a fairly decent neighborhood. No white convertible Mercedes kompressor, but a second hand Toyota premio. No column in the nation or standard, but a column in two magazines…
Prospects looked upbeat. And then, as cliché goes, shit happened…
Let’s just say I lost the assets I’d acquired. I lost my job and car in that order (The car was stolen on a Monday night). I threw money after the car in a bid to recover it (bless the cops). Zilch. Then money blindsided me, however hard I chased it. Deals bounced. Interviews went awry. I hit a dead end, hard. I won’t begin to talk about the small matter of rent because you ’al be like; “Ooh Luvi is crying. Ooh let’s pull a ‘Kenyans for Kenya’ for him. Ooh blah blah” So I won’t.
You aren’t struggling yet if you haven’t yet borrowed from people you are too proud to borrow from. That’s how low I had sank. I was scratching the bottom of the barrel so to speak. Treacherous times, those. Grim.
That’s when it dawned on me that I wasn’t invincible as I’d deluded myself to believe. I wasn’t half as smart as I thought I was. I didn’t know crap. Suffice it to say I was humbled – and thoroughly so.
It’s during such times that you can tell real friends from the hangers-on, the fair weather friends. Those who walk with you through the darkest hours and believe in you even when there’s nothing to believe in. Those who scold you when you attempt to slide into a pity party. Those who constantly reassure you that you’ll bounce back. That you’re brilliant, and smart, and Cool. And that so far you’re holding it down well, and you’ll soon be on the rise. They tell you such, not because they think that’s what you want to hear, but because they believe in you and your abilities. They believe in keeping it positive. You know, sending the right vibes. Such people, folks, are rare gems. Hold on to them, never trade them for anything.
But sometimes, actually, often times, these ‘rare gems’ can only do so much. Limitations abound. And besides, they got their own crap to deal with. And so in the cul-de-sac of your woes, in the thick of things, when you hit a snag and you’re caught between a rumbling stomach and rent, you turn to a deity. You seek divine intervention. Providence. This after lots of introspection and soul searching.
So I stepped up my spiritual life. I prayed and attended church more often than I used to. Shame.
You’ll meet good people in church. People who are easy and fun. People who understand the whole concept of grace and don’t take themselves too seriously. But you’ll also meet prudes and Puritans who wear huge hats of self righteousness. I loathe this lot.
Anyway, we have a pretty robust men camaraderie in my church, complete with a whatsapp group where guys share stuff concerning manhood and things. Most times it’s really insightful, and fun. But sometimes the phone will irksomely buzz with lots of ‘Amens’ after someone posts a ‘Solomonic’ sound bite.
Once in a while these men meet for nyamchom, and so last Saturday happened to be one of those days.
I linked up with a pal of mine, Mike, at TRM. Precisely 7.30am. He is one of the deacons in church. Early thirties. A really cool guy. The diplomatic type. So careful with his words he never says anything wrong. Sometimes I wish I were like him. Then I quickly rescind that wish because I know it’ll kill the storyteller in me. The joker. The free spirit. Besides, it’s stupid trying to be like someone, no? Stupid and out rightly pathetic.
We picked two other guys at GOP on our way to Syokimau. Our conversation revolving around the JAP launch that was going down at Kasarani stadium. We all assumed the middle ground, keen not to ruffle any feathers hehe. And also because politics sucks, and it’s never that serious.
Turns out one of the guys we picked at GPO is a psychologist. A dark willowy guy. Long fingers that look like black iron rods. Looks like the Karate type. Him and Ababu are neighbors, he says. A brown laptop bag is strapped across his chest. He likes to be called Juma.
We pull up in the church compound after twenty or so minutes of a banter filled drive. We jump out. There are about a dozen guys in the compound already. Most are sporting trainers and running apparel. These are the cool, trendy ones. Then there are those who insist on their shiny shirts, cotton pants and reeboks, these ones need deliverance haha.
Right away, we get down to it.
Juma is our instructor today. He’ll take us through some mind game activities.
He took us through several drills, but this particular one remained etched in my mind, and it’s the reason I decided to crank out this piece.
He asked us to form a circle. About 20 men. We initially held hands. Then he instructed us to release the hands and compress the circle so tightly. We were then asked to close our eyes and stretch both hands and make a knot with whichever hand you’d get in contact with. There was a disclaimer though; don’t hold the hand of the guy on your left or right.
So guys, acting blind, jostled for hands (as if hands were running out. Nkt)
When everyone’s hand was in a knot, he asked us to open our eyes. Dammit! I was holding the hand of a guy to my right!
You strictly stuck to the hand you’d held. No monkey business.
The next thing was to try and unshackle yourself from the convolution and form circles of the guys connected with the knots without letting the hand you’re holding go, or changing the fashion in which it had been held.
Guys tried. Guys fumbled. Wriggling around each other, turning and twisting. Eventually the circles were formed, breaking free from the convolution. Some guys had their hands twisted, some looked the opposite direction…
“And so this is how life is,” he quipped. “You never know what you might grab, or what life might hand you, or in what fashion. But you have to find your way around it. You have to adjust. You have to adjust to situations. If you try to fight the course of nature, you end up hurting yourself. Be flexible and versatile. Accept the realities of life. Acknowledge the things you can’t change and learn to live with them. Renew your mind each day. And lastly, learn to hold hands. You can’t live by yourself. No one is self made. You need other people. Cultivate relationships. Keep your ego in check. Conquer yourself, your flesh. Because, as they say, at the end of it all, the things that really matters are not things.”