Heeding an Advice - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Heeding an Advice

This photo of a cute little boy entertaining a cat with a recorder has come to inspire me for a reason I will expound on in the story of mine below. And if you know the genuine copyright holder of the photo, please let me know so that I can acknowledge him and link my audience to his website, books or other creative works.

As you might already know, I have a hobby for sharing stories which I shall soon extend to music and oral speeches, God-willing. My journey in honing that hobby hasn't been easy though. I have faced rejection from people who have blocked me on Facebook. Others bluntly ordered me to desist emailing them in a tone that suggested I was a nuisance.

However, my worst challenge in honing that hobby has been a tendency of my friends not to like or comment on the stories that I share with them on social media no matter how clear and entertaining I strive to be. That has discouraged me more than the few criticisms and rejections I have faced. It's like what the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: that in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.

A bit bothered by that silence from friends on my stories, I at one time stopped sharing my stories on social media. I even at another time changed my writing style in a way that didn't feel natural to me. But that didn't help attract likes and positive comments.

With time though, I have reconnected with my unique inner voice and resumed sharing my stories on social media to anyone who might be interested in reading them. And I nowadays don't mind getting only one like per story because as I have come to understand it, some people will never like my stories just because it is me who has written them. Don't worry, such people are called haters - the kind that King David wrote on Psalm 23 that they would live to jealously see me enjoy a banquet of honour.

I have come to borrow a leaf from the cute little boy in the photo above who is entertaining a cat with a recorder. As in, I am finding contentment in knowing that I have touched at least one soul through my stories even if the enticed person may be a man of little means.

Or in other words, I am heeding the advice of Maria Popova which she gave to the '16 graduating class of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication. She advised:
"Develop an inner barometer for your own value. Resist pageviews and likes and retweets and all those silly-sounding quantification metrics that will be obsolete within the decade. Don't hang the stability of your soul on them. They can't tell you how much our work counts for and to whom. They can't tell you who you are and what you're worth. They are that demoralizing electric bike that makes you feel if only you could pedal faster - if only you could get more pageviews and likes and retweets - you'd be worthier of your own life."
Now that's a great piece of advice coming from the author of Brain Pickings, a blog that attracts more than 200,000 unique visitors per day and which has been catalogued in the Library of Congress as a material of historical importance. I am heeding that advice for shizzle.


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A God of Miracles

In a story I published in this lovely website of mine several weeks ago which is accessible on clicking here, I wrote an appeal to well-wishers to help me re-acquire books that inspired me but which I either lost along the way or weren't mine at the time I read them. I am somewhat glad to report that only God has offered to help me so far because I managed to miraculously re-acquire one of the books I listed. Okay, let me narrate how it happened.

A couple of fortnights ago, I dreamt in my sleep at night of me re-purchasing Think Big, an inspiring book by Ben Carson - the retired paediatrician who became an overnight success in 1987 for leading a 70-member team in separating Siamese twins co-joined in the head. He is currently serving in the Donald Trump administration as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

I first purchased the small inspiring book on a book-stand at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi during my first year in 2008 at JKUAT where I was pursuing a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering. Unfortunately, I misplaced the book following the carelessness with which I handled my life following the not-so-good circumstances that befell me in my second year at the university.

And guess what? Well, the following day after that night a couple of fortnights ago during which I dreamt of myself re-purchasing the little inspiring tome by Ben Carson, I found my misplaced copy of the book while ransacking my father's room. It looked as good as the way it was the last time I touched it back in 2008. As in, it wasn't worn out or chewed by the rats that a constant source of annoyance at our home in Kiserian.

I find it miraculous of me dreaming about re-purchasing the book and then inadvertently finding my lost copy the following day. That's why I have said it was God who helped me re-acquire the book.

Folks, God still works in miraculous ways. Let us therefore worship Him as a being who can work miracles in our lives in ways beyond our understanding. Can someone shout, "Amen!"


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The "If Poem"

On the right side in this photo is the stately Starehe Boys' library in which the "If Poem" is framed and pinned. Imagine I never took time to read and reflect on the poem during my entire more than five years in the school; a further proof that we can swim in the Sea of Knowledge all day and still come out dry!

Apart from three quotes he had emblazoned on the door of the halls of Starehe Boys' Centre, Dr. Griffin also aspired to inspire the students of the school he founded by having the "If Poem" by Rudyard Kipling framed and pinned in the school library. I personally never took time to read and reflect on the words of the poem during my entire years at Starehe, even when one John Odor forced me at one time to write it three times as a punishment for not penning a letter to the wonderful American who sponsored my stay at Starehe.

It was only a couple of years later during my first year at JKUAT that I began to reflect on the words of the poem. I found it so inspiring that I memorized it when we broke for holidays after my first year at that university. For some reasons though, I have long since lost my ability to recall the poem word for word, but at least I have strived to live it. You see, there is nothing exceptional about memorizing the poem; what is exceptional is living it.

Allow me to reproduce the poem below without fear of prosecution since its copyright time-frame has expired. I urge you to read it even if you know it but this time, try to reflect on the parts you have succeeded to implement in your life and the parts you still need to work on:
If you can keep your head when all about you,
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken,
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you,
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute,
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
Of course I can't tell whether you have managed to re-read the poem word for word. As for me, I have gone through it again. And I am glad to report that I have been doing a pretty good job in living it for the past two years. I can't help but believe that I will soon be the kind of man the poem extols. So help me God.


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