Mental Clarity - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Mental Clarity

This is me during my days at Starehe Boys' Centre where I learnt, felt and understood the value of mental clarity.

While browsing the internet for inspiring quotes about nine years ago, I came across one by Edward Sisson about mental clarity which mentioned that Abraham Lincoln was always thrown into a rage when he encountered an obscure or ambiguous sentence in his reading. Sisson concluded that was simply a form of instinct for clear thinking which is found in every child and manifests itself abundantly to the perception of the good teacher.

On reading that conclusion, I remembered my high school years at Starehe Boys' Centre where I was always accused of being confused. Even after high school, the accusations never ceased. At Jomo Kenyatta University, my first-year roommate remarked to a friend that I was the most confused fellow he had ever encountered. The ironic side of the story is that I was never conscious of the confusion that people saw in me and I never understood its cause.

Retrospectively, I have realized that the confusion never affected my academic performance because I outperformed many normal students; normal in the sense that they could think clearly. But it affected my self-esteem and social life. When I joined a choir at All Saints Cathedral after my Starehe years, the director of the choir described me as a very timid fellow.

After first reading the Sisson quote on mental clarity nine years ago, it dawned on me that the confusion that characterized my life at Starehe and afterwards was caused by excessive reading without clear grasp of the text. And I am proud to proclaim that I am a clear thinker these days and I lead a healthy social life.

That's after coming to understand that far more important than any piece of knowledge, be it Calculus or Computer Programming or Accounting, is this love in every human being of clearness in his mental life and instinctive hatred for confusion and obscurity. A mere knowledge of facts, important as it is, is no safeguard against confusion; a conscious desire and resolve to think clearly is the true remedy.

So I usually strive to learn knowing what I know clearly and definitely. There is so much philosophy in this humorist's remark, "It was never ignorance that done me up, but the things I know'd that weren't so."


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Benefits of Music

The youngest boy in a black pair of trousers is me at the magnificent residence of Fr. Charles Nyamiti (in a hat), one of my music mentors, after we visited him circa 1999. I shall forever remain grateful to the Catholic Church for introducing me to the piano.

I don't know about you but for me, the genres of music that really move me are hymns, classical music and traditional Agikuyu folk songs. But generally speaking, any piece of music that has a wonderful melody and inspiring lyrics moves me. So I do love some other pieces of music from other genres such as The Power of a Dream that was performed by Celine Dion at the opening ceremony of the '96 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

And oh! I almost forgot to tell you that I also love any pieces of music that have a nice beat because they tend to make me want to dance.

My interest in music blossomed back in 1997 when I first started learning piano at the age of nine in my hometown Catholic Church under the tutelage of a brilliant and dedicated seminarian named Br. Peter Assenga. I was fortunate to advance my skills on the piano at Starehe Boys' Centre where I developed confidence in playing it before an audience. And after I left Starehe, I was even more fortunate to join All Saints Cathedral where I was exposed to music that refined my character.

But guess what? I became foolish sometimes in 2008 at the university where I was studying engineering by ditching music to concentrate on "serious" stuff like Calculus. What a big blunder! It eventually led to poor decisions, loss of vitality and depression.

After undergoing a psychotherapy for some years that made me more sick than well, I decided to reconnect with my passion for music in 2012 - one of the best decisions I made in my life. But I was at first in a dilemma on how to acquire a piano at home after my friends failed to help me when I approached them for assistance.

Then out of the blues, I got a job to teach piano to kids of Mr. Seni Adetu, the then CEO of East African Breweries Limited (EABL) who was about to emigrate to England with his family. I taught his kids for three weeks after which I was able to buy a piano keyboard which made me so happy.

The piano keyboard reignited my childlike passion for music which led me to present songs in my home church. I became so much hooked to music that I eventually produced two songs which a number of people commented were good, including Mr. Atigala Luvai - the Director of Music at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. And given the joy I felt in producing the two songs, I look forward to producing many more in the future.

In summary, reconnecting with my passion for music has made my life interesting, improved my imagination and made me more human. That's why I have resolved to keep aflame my interests in music even if I got elected President.


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Could Mars be the Next America?

Sometimes it is good to let our imagination wander from the confines of our everyday living to the worlds beyond. So today I found myself marvelling at the mysterious universe in which we live that is said to be composed of billions of stars bigger than the sun.

And then I thought about the possibility of future generations establishing the first interplanetary civilization like the way people immigrated to America after Christopher Columbus discovered the continent. But which planet will they first inhabit?

I surmise it will be Mars, one of our neighbouring planets that was named after the harsh Greek god of war. The naming was appropriate because research has shown the planet to be a harsh place for human existence. Its atmosphere, made up mainly of carbon dioxide, is so thin that a man landing there without a space-suit would die in minutes. And the planet is so cold that atmospheric gases have cooled to dry ice.

But why am I surmising that Mars will be the first planet to be conquered by future generations? For three reasons.

First, unlike on the Earth where it is threatening the existence of life, global warming will make Mars more habitable. Should the earth become unbearably hot, I foresee future generations seeking refuge in Mars just like the way people immigrated to America in search of freedom and wealth.

Secondly, Mars is rich in iron oxide and silicates which could produce enough oxygen for human life through the process of extracting iron and silicon, the elements that mostly drive the economy.

Thirdly, life on Mars would be easier because of its weak gravity. That means less energy would be used to walk, play and carry goods. And the weak gravity would make exploration to further planets easier because less fuel would be needed to blast rockets.

Yes, Mars has the potential to be next land of opportunities. And should future generations succeed in conquering it, I foresee the Martian Dream, Mars version of the American dream!


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