Scoring in Life
When I wrote in my previous story in this lovely blog of mine about my wonderful experience in my days at Starehe Institute, I forgot to tell you that I also did watch football especially the 2006 FIFA World Cup while at the institute. I found it exciting to look forward to matches though I don't think my intention for watching the matches was for getting enough tales to show off to friends.
Of the numerous world-class footballers that I got to know back then, there was one who stood out from the crowd from my perspective. That was Ronaldinho de Gaucho.
I admired Ronaldinho not only for his good looks and dribbling skills but also for his trademark grin. He seemed to be in love with the game as some other footballers frowned on the pitch. I so much admired him that I put his image on the home window of the software I developed on the 2006 World Cup soccer fixtures.
And when the world cup began in June that year, I strongly rooted for Brazil which I fervently believed would win the cup because of its then talented and experienced attacking combo of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. But alas! The team was sent packing after a quarter-final loss to France following a surprise goal scored by Thierry Henry. That loss to Brazil made me so heartsick that I was unable to attend church the following day.
But I still love Ronaldinho whom I occasionally watch on videos I downloaded from the internet of him in action during his heyday in which he won the La Liga and Champions League with FC Barcelona, Copa America as well as the FIFA Confederations Cup and the World Cup with Brazil - the benchmarks of a truly remarkable football career.
No wonder he was selected once as the European Player of the Year and twice in a row as the FIFA World Player of the Year. To the best of my knowledge, only Ronaldo (of Brazil) and Zinedine Zidane can rival Ronaldinho in their range of football achievements. I stand to be corrected.
Although I no longer watch live football matches these days, I treasure the lesson I gleaned from the game which happens to be the most popular sport in the world: that the performance of a football team is not judged by how well it plays but by how many goals it scores. So a star-studded team can play well by dribbling skilfully and making clever passes but if it fails to score, it is no better than that of lousy players.
And after reflecting on that lesson, I have discovered that life too is like a football game in that we have to score on the important aspects of life such as love, peace, health and wealth if we are truly to be remarkable. If we try to live well by eating a balanced diet, reading regularly and exercising physically but still struggle with low self-esteem, loneliness, poverty and hatred, then we are no better than alcoholics.
Let us therefore strive score on those important aspects in life: love, peace, health and wealth. Of those aspects, the most important is love just as Jesus Christ and St. Paul said in their teachings. I am of the opinion that if we strive particularly on love - to love God, ourselves and others - then peace, health and wealth will come easily to us.
Yes, let's love God, ourselves and others. And if we possess love in increasing measure, then we will start scoring well in the other three aspects of life like FC Barcelona's current prolific attacking combo of Messi, Suarez and Neymar.
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Blooming Where Planted
Starehe Boys' Centre, a well-endowed institution of which I am a proud alumnus, had an institute during our time where students from the school's high school division could enrol to pursue a course in Accounting or Information Technology (IT). I didn't want to proceed into that institute as my high school years came to an end in November 2005 because someone had led me to believe the institute was not for sophisticated young men like the one I was striving to be.
As fate would have it, I failed to get a job after high school and my attempt to enrol at the upscale Strathmore College in Nairobi backfired simply because my parents could not afford to put me through that college. So I had no option but to report back to Starehe in January 2006 to join the institute where I had wisely applied for admission just in case things failed to work out.
And alas! My experience at the institute turned out to be wonderful because I took advantage of the marvellous resources at Starehe to grow intellectually. Like I learnt how to use a computer in the Institute labs that had a commendable student-computer ratio of almost 1:1. I also kept aflame my interests in public speaking and music thanks to the student meetings and several pianos in the school.
But the greatest resource at Starehe Institute was time. The IT course I pursued was relatively easy and the teachers were lackadaisical. Like one Mr. Kagete would at times go for a week without turning up in class to teach us. I took advantage of those free times to swim, play football, do personal reading, improve my computer programming skills and browse the internet where I learnt more about the top American colleges where I applied for admission.
And on Sundays, I would sneak out of Starehe early in the morning to be with my hometown Catholic Church youth group where I almost fell in love with Gloria Thigwe, a charming young lady who has long since been married to another man. I used to sneak out of Starehe because I thought it wise to interact with the outside world instead of getting confined to the school throughout the week yet I was an adult complete with a national identity card.
As I reflect on those good old days at Starehe Institute, I feel proud of myself for blooming at the institute where I found myself planted against my wish. And that's the kind of blooming I am trying to achieve at the moment when I have found myself planted in my rural home at Kiserian in the Great Rift Valley. I am blooming impressively given my current levels of peace and creativity which I thought I could have attained only by attending Harvard, Yale or Stanford where I was denied admission thrice.
So I encourage you to also bloom where you are planted. If you are in a remote village school, study like never before and mesmerize students from elite schools with your literary skills. And if you have been forced back to your rural home because you went broke in the city, farm with some passion till your agribusiness becomes a case-study at Wharton Business School. Bloom!