Laughing Like a Little Child
A True Story
on Jul 9, 2019
Ever heard the one about the doctor who gave his patient six months to live because she had terminal cancer? And when the patient couldn't pay her hospital bill, the doctor gave her six more months.
Go ahead and laugh at that joke. People more knowledgeable than me say laughing promotes good health and speeds healing. In his highly enlightening book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, Sean Covey writes that laughter:
- loosens up the mental gears and helps us to think more creatively
- helps us cope with the difficulties of life
- reduces stress levels
- relaxes us as it lowers our heart rate and blood pressure
- connects us with others and counteracts feelings of alienation, a major contributor in depression and suicide
- releases endorphins, the brain's natural painkillers
Then there was a time in 2007 I burst out laughing during a choir practice at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi after a fellow chorister reminded me of a friend of mine called Gathigi who sometimes would doze as we listened to classical music back in the '90s. I really laughed and I loved it.
And then there was another time in 2015 I enjoyed laughing at a joke cracked by a fellow teacher at Rose of Sharon Academy in Nairobi where I was teaching piano and music theory. Well, I found the teacher using a phone we call "mulika mwizi" (light on the thief) here in Kenya because it has only basic accessories and a torch that can show who a thief is by lighting on him in darkness. When I mentioned to the teacher that his was a "mulika mwizi" phone, he shot back, "No, this is a 'mulika magaidi' (light on the terrorists) phone. It is more powerful!" That joke made me convulse with laughter. And I enjoyed laughing.
As I have said, it has been a while since I last had a good hearty laugh because of some problems we have been having here at home. Today, I have prayed that God may help me laugh again frequently like a child. Why like a child? Because I have heard it said that children are constantly happy. According to one blogger called Zeenat who runs a website called Positive Provocations, little four-year old children:
- believe in magic, in imagination, in fairy tales.
- never get bored. They can entertain themselves anywhere (even in the loo!)
- have no regard for money, gizmos, gadgets and all the material possessions, cause one little notepad and box of crayons can make them travel realms of awesomeness.
- don't hold on to pain, nor do they take longer than 1 minute to get back to their normal fun self even if, by chance, something doesn't go their way.
- are always excited and open to new and fun adventures.
- are constantly positive and happy. They don't need a reason to be happy; they just are.
Such is the kind of childlike laughing that I would like to be having regularly. After all, why shouldn't I laugh? Am I not a child of the Almighty God who caters for my needs as He does for the sparrows? Is my life not under His control even in moments of challenge?
My dear reader, I beseech you to also laugh regularly like a small child. Some may say that we laugh because we are happy but the truth is, we also become happy because we laugh. So try to laugh even during hard times instead of sitting around looking sour and gloomy. You can't have all play and sunshine everyday; therefore laugh when troubles come. Laugh. Laugh. Laugh.
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The Starehe Parting Advice
A True Story
on Jul 3, 2019
Like my friend Eric Kuria, I am so much attached to Starehe Boys' Centre where I had my high school as well as college education. Located on the outskirts of Nairobi City, the school is a First-World institution. It is so well endowed with such modern facilities as pianos, tarmacked roads, automatic generators, computer laboratories, a school band, a fire-fighting squad, a music centre, a stately library, a swimming pool, a magnificent chapel, a space-age clinic, flat playing fields and boarding houses that foster brotherhood.
During my time at Starehe, the school was managed skilfully. Nowhere on its compound was there a building that showed neglect or decay or poverty. It truly was a First-World institution.
I formed many lasting friendships at Starehe. Among the many friends I made were my classmates in 4F class of '05. (We like calling ourselves The Mighty 4F.) I became a better person by learning alongside those 4F classmates who made me read a lot just so that I could catch up with their bright minds. And that led me to be the avid reader that I am today.
For some strange reasons, I used to feel horribly nervous when reading to my classmates in 4F as some of our teachers demanded. Sometimes my nervousness would make my voice quiver which I thought betrayed my trembling but thankfully, no 4F classmate ever teased me about it.
The teachers I had at Starehe were devoted, and superbly qualified, I might add, especially those in the high school division. Some of them have evolved into good friends of mine over the years thanks to this awesome technology called internet.
Yes, I did form many lasting friendships at Starehe. These days whenever I see someone on Facebook with whom I have more than 50 mutual friends, I instantly know that's an old student of Starehe.
Besides the friends I made in the school, the other thing that makes me so much attached to Starehe is the quality education I received there. It is at Starehe where I developed the confidence of playing the piano in front of an audience. It is at Starehe where I learnt how to play volleyball. And it is also at Starehe where I learnt to navigate through the Windows Operating System; or to put it simply, it is at Starehe where I learnt how to use a computer.
After attending the school for five and a half years, I was lucky to be released into the world in peace on April 2007 by Prof. Jesse Mugambi, the then director of the school, in a church service during which I was charged never to forget the great benefits I had received in Starehe, and in time to come, according to my means, I do all I can to enable others enjoy the same advantage; and to remember that I carried with me wherever I went, the good name of Starehe.
I was also advised to be of good courage; to hold fast that which is good; to listen for the voice of truth; to think fairly; to love widely; to witness humbly; to render to no man evil for evil; to strengthen the faint-hearted; to support the weak; to help the afflicted; to honour all men; to love brotherhood; to build bravely; and to serve God.
In an uplifting prayer, I was prayed for that God's loving-kindness and mercy may follow me all the days of my life; that He may succour me in temptation; that He may preserve me in danger; that He may assist me in every good work; that He may bless me in all my ways; that He may keep me in the knowledge of His love; that He may prosper me in all things good; and that He may keep me in the way that leads to eternal life.
That parting advice sounds great but guess what! I can't remember being touched by it during that church service in April 2007 when I was being released into the world by Prof. Jesse Mugambi. My mind was pre-occupied with other things that time. And my failure to heed that advice cost me dearly when I messed up at the university in JKUAT in 2008 and again at the University of Nairobi in 2011.
Over the past several years, I have re-read that parting advice, and I have come to find it wise. I plan to continue re-reading it in the days to come in the hope that it will bring me peace in moments of difficulty and uncertainty. That Starehe parting advice was not available online but it was on-point.
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