Reflections of a Young Man™ - True Stories by Thuita J. Maina

Gaining Wisdom in Pain



I can't exactly recall which match we were watching in Starehe Boys' Ngala House whose captain was one Paul Byatta back in 2006. It must have been the FA Cup final between Liverpool and West Ham in those days when Steven Gerrard was at the peak of his football career. But I do vividly recall getting upset by Byatta when he switched off the television as the match went on after we became noisy and rowdy.

So much did Byatta upset me that I uttered some unprintable offensive comments about him to my equally perturbed friends. And later on when I heard someone say that Byatta wanted to attend the prestigious Harvard College, I said to myself, "No, that guy can't make it there. He is not a Harvard material."

But alas! Byatta was accepted by Harvard two years later - the same college that rejected me twice which pained me given the effort I put in crafting my application and the way I regularly visualized myself walking through the streets of Harvard. God must have been using the pain to teach me a valuable lesson: to never mock and ridicule someone or laugh at anyone's dream.

It must have been the sort of lesson learnt by the white woman who was captured on camera in 1957 yelling at a black girl who was attempting to join the then whites-only Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. She publicly apologized thirty years later for yelling at the innocent, determined black girl who was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton in 1999.

And so Aeschylus, the ancient Greek tragedian, was on point when he wrote of pain bringing us wisdom against our will through the awful grace of God. Let us therefore use every pain as a tool for gaining wisdom instead of shrinking to depression or resorting to excessive alcohol.

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In The Arena



When I was in Standard 5 at the impoverished Naru-Moru Primary School of the '90s, I loved taking part in a boyish football game called Chobo which I am sure must still be popular among boys in village schools here in Kenya. Basically, the main aim of the game was to beat up the boy who happened to have the ball pass in between his legs as we dribbled it past one another. So we all had to be cautious not to be caught off-guard.

Some boys were always extra-cautious not to be caught off-guard by standing still when the ball came near them or idling by the sidelines as they waited for the unfortunate culprit to beat up. But for me, I used to be among the few outgoing players in the arena who dribbled the ball while trying to pass it between some boy's legs. And on several of those Chobo games, I managed to come out of every game unscathed until one fateful morning break-time.

I was dribbling the ball with my usual valour and vitality when it passed in between my legs. And then suddenly, every boy especially the fearful idlers descended on me with kicks and blows on every part of my body except the gonads. After what seemed like an eternity of getting beaten, I went back to class when the bell rang feeling more like a wildebeest that had escaped the jaws of a crocodile. That was way back in 1998 before the current 18-year old teens were born.

On reflecting about that boyish Chobo game as we played it in those days, I have discovered that it bears resemblance with human life in that most people idle fearlessly on the sidelines while waiting for the makers of the world to mess up so that they can descend on them with ridicule, criticism and malicious slander. I have been a victim of such attack especially on social media where I have been blocked, vilified and unfriended in my endeavour of sharing stories that entertain, enlighten and inspire.

But what have kept me going amidst the attack are my dreams, desires and visions as well as the inspirational writings of great men like this one by Theodore Roosevelt:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
So I will continue pursuing my dreams with renewed valour and vitality like I used to dribble the ball while playing Chobo in those old days at Naru-Moru. And when people ask you what Thuita does and where he is, just tell them he is the man in the arena.

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Becoming Like Jesus



My friend Joe Mazzella from the beautiful state of West Virginia in the United States once shared with me an old, fictional but wonderful story which provoked my imagination. And because the story was fictional, I beg to modify and re-narrate it in my own words as follows:
When the great Leonardo da Vinci began painting the Last Supper, he decided to use living models of Jesus and his twelve apostles. He first began by painting Judas Iscariot when he spotted a man whose face appeared vicious, malicious, avaricious and hypocritical. Then over the next three years, he successfully found other men whose faces appeared like each of the other eleven apostles.

After he finished painting the final apostle, da Vinci was lucky to spot a man whose face looked like that of Jesus in that it radiated joy, hope, love, peace, faith, goodwill and self-control. And when he was through with painting him as Jesus, the man inquired, "Do you know who I am?"

"No, I don't know you," replied da Vinci.

"Well," the man responded, "I am the same man you painted as Judas Iscariot three years ago!"
While that story is fictional as I have pointed out, it does teach us valuable lessons to all of us: that the appearance of our faces reflect the condition of our souls and that it is never too late to change our character.

So let us strive to become like Jesus by making our faces radiate joy, hope, love, peace, faith, goodwill and self-control. Let us strive to turn our our fears into courage, our mockery into compassion, our idleness into creativity, our foolishness into wisdom, our ignorance into knowledge, our anger creases into laugh lines, and our sorrows into hope of a better future on earth and in heaven.

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Latest Stories

Gaining Wisdom in Pain
on December 10, 2016

In The Arena
on December 08, 2016

Becoming Like Jesus
on December 06, 2016


About the Author

Name: Thuita J. Maina
Nationality: Kenyan
From: Kiserian, Rift Valley, Kenya
Mission: To be a cheerful and a discerning man of integrity


Author's Note

I am learning to treat life as a journey, not a destination. So I am trying to enjoy each day as I anticipate to fulfill my dreams especially meeting my soul-mate and traveling abroad. Tomorrow may never be mine.


Just For Laughs

There was this drunkard named Azoge who loved drinking at Josiah's Bar. On being told that a certain Hon. Nanga was flying to America to receive a Law Degree so that he could be admitted to the bar, Azoge replied, "Why fly all the way to America to be admitted to the bar while you can get into Josiah's Bar at anytime?"


Fun Facts

  1. A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.
  2. If you sneeze too hard, you could fracture a rib.
  3. Like fingerprints, everyone's tongue print is different.
  4. Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
  5. A shark is the only known fish that can blink with both eyes.

Wonders of the Modern World

  1. The Simplon Tunnel
  2. The Sky-scrapers of New York
  3. The Boulder Dam of Colorado
  4. The Panama Canal
  5. The Golden Gate Bridge
  6. The Taj Mahal at Agra in India
  7. The North Sea Oil Drilling Rigs

Scientific Marvels

  1. Space travel
  2. Heart surgery
  3. Fibre-optics communication
  4. Concorde
  5. Computers
  6. Anesthetics
  7. Radio

Greatest American Presidents

  1. George Washington
  2. Abraham Lincoln
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  4. Woodrow Wilson
  5. Theodore Roosevelt
  6. Thomas Jefferson
  7. Andrew Jackson

Toughest Colleges to Get Into

  1. MIT
  2. Princeton
  3. Harvard
  4. Yale
  5. Stanford
  6. Brown
  7. Columbia

The Most Populous Cities

  1. Tokyo, Japan
  2. Delhi, India
  3. Shanghai, China
  4. Mexico City, Mexico
  5. São Paulo, Brazil
  6. Mumbai, India
  7. Osaka, Japan