One night in 2017 while lying in bed at night waiting for sleep to catch up with me, I overheard my Dad telling Mum of someone suffering from cancer. I didn't get to hear the name of the cancer patient my parents were talking about. And I didn't bother to spring out of bed to ask. I just continued lying lazily in bed.
The following day, I found myself getting worried about the cancer patient I had overheard my parents talking about. Could a close relative have succumbed to the deadly disease? I wondered. And worried.
Unable to contain my worry and curiosity, I finally asked Dad in the evening of that day to tell me who was that person I had overheard him saying had cancer. "It's Ogenche's wife," he replied. (Ogenche is our neighbour on the western side of our home.)
I felt relieved to learn it wasn't a close relative who was suffering from cancer. Well, I know that sounds selfish and insensitive but I am telling you the truth: I felt relieved.
A few months later on a Sunday afternoon, I happened to be reading a book about literature on the back-door verandah of our mansion when I overheard some people crying and wailing at Ogenche's home. On hearing the cries, I immediately went inside our mansion to alert Dad which made him stop whatever he was doing in his study to go and have a listen too.
As Dad left his study, he said to me, "You know Ogenche's wife has been ailing with cancer." By saying that, Dad must have had in his mind what I had in mine: that Ogenche's wife may have passed on.
When we went outside to the back-door verandah to listen to the cries, Dad was quick to notice that some tents had been erected at Ogenche's compound. He heard the cries too. Out of curiosity, he called another neighbour of ours to inquire what was going on at Ogenche's home. The neighbour confirmed what we had in mind: that it was Ogenche's wife who had passed away.
Over the next several days, we continued hearing some people crying and waling at Ogenche's home, especially on the night before his wife was buried. And on burial day, Ogenche's farm was full of parked cars belonging to the people who had come to bid farewell to his wife. I didn't attend the funeral because neither Ogenche nor his wife had been a close friend of mine. But my Dad was kind enough to represent my family in the funeral.
Yesternight as I lay in bed waiting for sleep to catch up with me, I caught myself worrying of my Mum also suffering from cancer. I don't know why that worry popped in my mind. Maybe it's because the fate of Ogenche's wife is still fresh in my memory.
Anyway, yesternight when I caught myself worrying of Mum getting cancer, I quickly commanded myself, "Stop thinking about what could go wrong and instead start thinking about what could go right." In other words, I was training my mind to think optimistically.
I can't recall what else I thought about yesternight after I commanded my mind to think optimistically because I did fall asleep sooner than later. As I write this story, I am thinking about the things that could go right in my life; like me meeting the woman of my dreams during my daily walks to Kiserian Town or through the internet. And I have resolved to continue thinking optimistically.
My dear reader, I urge you to also train your mind to thinking optimistically. Try to regularly weed out any worry that may pop up in your mind. After all, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on thinking optimistically, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "Bidding a Friend Farewell". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Keeping Hope Alive
Even though the weather was pleasantly crisp and clear here in Kiserian when I woke up, it wasn't a beautiful morning for me today. I woke up feeling a bit gloomy because God has not been answering my most important prayers. The gloominess persisted during my morning jog and walk to Kiserian Shopping Centre. When I was coming back home, I remembered Rev. Jesse Jackson's words in his famous 1988 U.S. Democratic National Convention speech.
Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered a powerful message that set that 1988 convention on fire. He used these three words to inspire his listeners: "Keep hope alive!" And he kept saying those three words over and over and over for what seemed forever as the crowd in the convention swelled with applause. You could feel the sincerity in his voice.
When I remembered those three words of Rev. Jesse Jackson as I was coming home from my walk to Kiserian, they didn't scatter my gloom. But they forced me to keep hoping that things will eventually work out. And that God will answer my prayers with time.
Besides Rev. Jesse Jackson, several other American leaders have extolled the virtue of hope. Bill Clinton wrote in his autobiography that hope is the fibre of his being which has stayed with him even on nights when he has lost his power of analysis and articulation.
Then Barack Obama won the hearts of most Americans in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections by preaching the message of hope in his campaigns and speeches. He even added the word "hope" in the title of his best-selling book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.
Those American leaders have inspired me to cling on hope like a tick on a buffalo no matter what life throws at me. I will from now on not allow the challenges of life make me lose hope as they have done in the past. Allow me to tell you of several instances when I lost hope in the past.
In November 2001 when I sat for my KCPE exams, I expected to excel in them. But when the results were released several weeks later, I was seized by a feeling of hopelessness after I failed to see my name in the newspaper in the list of top 100 pupils in my province.
Then when I applied to four top American colleges in the 2007/08 application round, I was again seized by a feeling of hopelessness when I learnt in March and April 2008 that I hadn't been accepted into any of the four colleges. I did really feel hopeless.
But my feeling of hopelessness that I have remembered most over the years was one I felt in one afternoon around August 2008. That time in August 2008, I had began going astray by hanging around in the university without attending classes and communicating home. And then the unexpected happened: the university was closed down after the students went on strike. That afternoon when the university was closed down, I felt hopeless because I had nowhere to go since I didn't want to head home. It must be the kind of hopelessness that grips thieves the day they are arrested by police.
Since that time in August 2008, I have faced other challenges that have made me lose hope, like in 2014 when I failed to be selected for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) program. But somehow, I have kept going and found my mojo along the way.
As I have said, I have now resolved to cling on hope like a tick on a buffalo even when life throws challenges at me. Like Bill Clinton, I will make hope be the fibre of my being even in times when I will lose all my power of analysis and articulation.
Right now, I am clinging to the hope that I will eventually make money from my hobbies; that I will meet my soulmate in the course of this year; that I will be married and in my own home by the time the next FIFA World Cup will be held in 2022; and that my parents, siblings, relatives and true friends will live to see me walk down the aisle with my princess charming.
My dear reader, I beseech you to also cling to hope. Don't allow the challenges of life to take away your smile. Keep hope alive! If you are suffering from a terminal illness, have hope that a better life awaits you in heaven. Or if you have lost a loved one, have hope that the departed friend is in a better place and you will eventually reunite with him. Keep hope alive!
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