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Making Peace With The Past

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When I was a boy growing up in the old days of landline telephone booths, I used to look forward to a time I would remember what happened ten years ago. I have long since lived to see that wish come true. Today, I can recall what happened not only in the past one decade but also twenty six years ago.

And God seemed to have blessed me with a superb memory because these days, I seem to remember incidents that some of my friends have forgotten. Allow me to tell you of two. Only two.

Way back in 1994 when I was in Standard One at Noru-Moru Primary School, I recall vividly one lesson during which our teacher, an attractive lady called Miss Alice, asked all pupils in my class who had missed school the previous day to line up near her desk for questioning on why they were absent. My best friend Reuben Mwaura and I were among them. So we lined up.

When it was Reuben's turn to be questioned, he told Miss Alice that he had missed school because he had attended the Nairobi International Show. Miss Alice didn't believe him, so she caned him mercilessly. As I stood in the line watching Reuben writhe in pain as he got caned, I began to feel scared that the same punishment would befall me for I had also missed school the previous day because I had gone for Nairobi International Show.

But guess what! When it was my turn to be questioned, Miss Alice instantly believed me when I informed her that I had attended Nairobi International Show. She started asking me what I had seen in the show. I narrated to her how it had been with the artless sincerity of a young child. She praised me in front of the whole class after which she asked me to sit down.

I have never known why Miss Alice disbelieved Reuben but believed me yet the two of us had the same excuse. Later on in this decade, I reminded Reuben about that incident when I found myself in the same matatu with him on our way to our home-town of Kiserian. But alas! He told me he had no memory of that incident at all. And he was quick to add, "Maybe Miss Alice was right; you know I was a small boy back then."

The other incident I recollect distinctly was me scoring 57% in Mathematics in the 2002 Starehe Boys' Form 1 end-of-year exams. I remember that score because of how mad I was with myself for making careless mistakes in the Mathematics exams after I went through my answers when we broke for December holidays. Had it not been for those careless mistakes, I reckoned I could have scored over 80%.

But even with all those careless mistakes, I managed to defeat quite a large number of students in the Mathematics exam, some of whom scored marks as low as 30%. Needless to say, some students did score higher marks than me. Among them was a bright boy called Beneah Kombe who scored an impressive 94%. Yes, you heard it right - 94%!

Earlier on in this decade, I sent Beneah Kombe an internet message congratulating him for getting accepted at MIT, the world's premier institute in science, technology, engineering and math. I mentioned to him that he deserved to be at MIT given how he had scored 94% in Mathematics in the 2002 Starehe Boys' Form 1 end-of-year exams. But guess what again! Beneah told me he couldn't recall ever scoring 94%. That surprised me. If he wasn't trying to appear modest, then I must possess such a wonderful memory.

Indeed, I do have a wonderful memory. And to tell you the truth, that wonderful memory has become a curse some times because it has made me feel guilty and hateful when I remember the mistakes I have committed or how I have been treated unfairly. I tend to recall even the smallest acts of foolishness I did over ten years ago.

None of us can change the past. That's why some motivational speakers advise us to "let go of the past". As for me, I like telling myself to "make peace with the past". My goal these days is to become so well-educated that I can reflect on any incident in the past at any time without feeling an ounce of guilt or hatred.

My dear reader, I urge you to also make peace with your past. Celebrate your successes in bygone days. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made along the way. Pardon those who have sinned against you. Turn your scars into stars, your mess into a message and your test into a testimony.

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Wisdom From a Cab Driver

With permission, I have extracted this picture-quote from Ahmyisrael.com. All rights reserved worldwide.


As I wrote sometimes back in this blog, I gave up forcing myself to wake up early in the morning. I now prefer staying in bed till I feel I have had sufficient sleep, provided I have no pressing work to attend to. Some days, I manage to awaken from slumber before dawn but on most days, I usually wake up at around 7.00am.

Today, I felt I had had sufficient sleep at around 6.30am but I continued lying lazily in bed. And as I lay in bed, I began to feel dreary when I thought of all I had to do when I got out of bed: making my bed, stretching with rollers, cleaning my room, taking a shower, washing my clothes and going for a jog to Kiserian Town. All those chores seemed too much for me, which explains why I felt dreary, wishing time would stop moving so that I could lay in bed longer.

But guess what! When I finally got out of bed and began doing those tasks, I found myself feeling excited by the time I had finished washing my clothes. So excited was me that I decided to skip breakfast and jog to Kiserian Town when I was still feeling elated. It's amazing how our moods can change so quickly, isn't it?

Before I left home for Kiserian, I said a prayer, as is my habit, that I may enjoy my morning walk, and that I may be filled with courage and charm to approach and strike a conversation with any winsome young lady I may meet along the way. And because I was planning to buy a pair of shorts, I also prayed that I may find a good one at Kiserian market.

Although I didn't meet any winsome young lady along the way, I enjoyed my morning trip to Kiserian Town. And I found a pair of shorts of my size at Kiserian Market which I bought cheaply at Ksh. 150.

On my way back home after buying the short, I witnessed an incident near the market that had attracted a small crowd of people. It was of a man who was protesting angrily because his car had been hit slightly on the front. He was protesting using some unprintable profane language while belittling the car that had hit his. And from the way he was gesturing furiously, I could tell he was ready for a fight if provoked more.

Not bothering to hang around the scene and watch the incident unfold, I continued with my walk back home while mulling over what I had just witnessed. The man I had seen protesting angrily over a minor accident reminded of the following words by Marcus Aurelius:
I am going to meet people today who talk too much, people who are selfish, egotistical, ungrateful. But I won't be surprised or disturbed, for I couldn't imagine a world without such people.
The man also reminded me of a short video clip I watched a few weeks ago in a Facebook page ran by one of my friends. The video clip was about the wisdom of a black cab driver who stopped on the road to pick a white passenger.

As he drove off, the cab driver started asking his passenger about his day. And he was asking politely and cheerfully. But then as they were talking, the cab driver suddenly saw a car in front of him. To avoid hitting it, he slammed on the breaks and the cab screeched to a halt, barely missing to hit the car in front. A man then emerged out of the car and started shouting angrily but the cab driver maintained his cool by smiling and waving at the angered man.

After the angry man went back to his car, the white passenger in the cab asked the black cab driver, "How are you so calm and so friendly?"

The cab driver replied, "Well, I'll tell you something man. People are like garbage trucks."

"How?" the passenger inquired, his interest piqued.

"Well," the cab driver continued, "they run around with garbage - they are full of disappointments, full of frustration, full of anger. And when that garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it. And sometimes they'll dump it on you. But you know what? Don't take it personal. You just wave, smile, wish them well and move on."

Pretty powerful words of wisdom coming from a black cab driver, aren't they? They have made me realize that the man I saw today morning protesting angrily had too much garbage in him that he dumped on the driver who had hit his car. Or what do you think?

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FEEDBACK: Would you be so kind as to offer your feedback on the stories I post in this blog? Just click on the "Feedback" link on the menu at the top of this blog and share your thoughts with me. Thanks in advance for your comments.

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