Cultivating Inner Peace
A True Story
on Jul 27, 2020
When I was in my second year at the university in JKUAT in 2008, I used to spend a lot of time alone. I enjoyed roaming in the university's pristine meadow where most students never ventured. The following passage from the autobiography of Bill Clinton was to me then, as it is still today, an inspiration and a spur:
That passage led me to think that something good could come out of my worrying and wondering. So I have continued carving out some time for solitude to do the sorting out that Bill Clinton said a good life requires.
Tell him to be alone often and get at himself
and above all tell himself no lie about himself.
Tell him solitude is creative if he is strong
and the final decisions are made in silent rooms.
He will be lonely enough
to have time for the work
he knows as his own. 
To be honest, I have not always enjoyed solitude due to recurring emotions of guilt, hate and worry. I remember the many times I have agonized over the sins I have committed, over how others have treated me with contempt and over how things may go wrong. Such kind of thinking has drained joy out of my soul.
Not all my moments of solitude have been unbearable, though. There have been times I have thoroughly enjoyed my own company such as during some evenings in 2016 when I went for my evening walks. Imagine I would feel so excited during those evenings that I would walk on and on by taking a longer route to my home. What a pleasant feeling it was to be overexcited!
But one problem I noted with trekking for too long due to overexcitement was that it would affect my energy levels the following day. If, for instance, I felt euphoric on a Monday, I would have a lousy Tuesday. Another problem with overexcitement was the way it made me overly talkative. I would engage in needless chatter and send text messages to my friends. So feeling overexcited was doing me a disservice, pleasant though it was.
What I am now craving in my moments of solitude is a never-fading sense of inner peace. I want to be at peace with myself and the world, whether alone in my room or out there in the street walking. And here's my game plan on how I will achieve that peace.
- Thinking positively: I will spend my time reflecting on my strengths, not my weaknesses; on my achievements, not my failures; and on my virtues, not my sins. Life is too short to dwell on the negative.
- Developing optimism: I will believe things will pan out well for me, regardless of how gloomy life may get. After all, doesn't my Bible say that all things work out for the good of those who are in Christ?
- Being grateful: I will dwell on the things I am blessed with, instead of pitying myself for the things I don't own. And I have a lot to be thankful for such as good health, food to eat and fresh water to drink.
- Associating with positive people: I will keep in touch with people who uplift me and bring out the best in me. No longer will I try to win the respect of people who don't value me.
- Not taking anything personally: I will not permit other people to hurt my feelings with their words. So should someone say something negative about me, I will see him as the problem, not me.
- Putting everything in God's hands: I will cast all my worries to God because He cares for me. So I will not go around with a sour face wondering if things will work out.
 I have extracted this passage from page 150 of My Life by William J. Clinton, published in the United Kingdom in 2005 by Arrow Books.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on cultivating inner peace, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "Enjoying Solitude". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Delight in Simple Things
A True Story
on Jul 22, 2020
It is a tale I have told again and again on this blog, but one which I seem never to tire of reflecting and narrating in fresh words. And that's how I went astray at the university in JKUAT in 2008 when I was in my second year. This is what happened: I completely lost interest in my studies and stopped attending classes at the university. I just hung around JKUAT doing my own reading.
Then one day in August 2008, an unfortunate thing occurred at JKUAT: students went on strike during which they caused a lot of damage. That led to the closure of the university and all students were commanded to vacate JKUAT. As for me, I didn't go home. I just slept in the open air like a wild animal and went for several days without bathing and changing my clothes.
The day JKUAT was being reopened, I remember boarding a matatu and suddenly fearing I could have been stinking for having neither bathed nor changed my clothes for several days. Fortunately, nobody I came in contact with during the matatu ride complained about me emitting a foul smell.
After JKUAT was reopened, we sat for our end-of-semester exams. Having not been attending classes at the university, I was completely unprepared for the exams. All I did during the exams was leave most of my exam questions blank without giving a damn. Though I never bothered to find out how I fared in the exams, I am sure I flopped all of them badly.
When we finished the exams, we broke for a short holiday. I also didn't go home during the short holiday. Instead, I spent much of my daytime at a national library in Nairobi City. During the night, I would go to sleep in a certain church in downtown Nairobi. I was living like a homeless street urchin.
Because I didn't pay fees for my second-semester, I found myself without a room to stay when we reported back to JKUAT after that short holiday. So I again began sleeping in the open air like a wild animal. Eventually, I was found out, taken to a police cell, diagnosed with a mental illness and forcefully taken to hospital.
Being hospitalized was such a demoralizing experience for me. By the time I was being discharged from hospital, I had lost my zest for living. Imagine I would spend my time lying lazily in bed with nothing to do, sometimes going for several days without showering, cleaning my room and washing my clothes. As a result of that lackadaisical lifestyle, I not only gained a lot of weight but also started smelling awfully.
I remember there was a time my brother Paddy criticized me for wearing a smelly sweater. He ordered me to remove it, which I did. And then there was another time Paddy caught a glimpse of deep cracks on my heels. Well, I can't recall the remarks he made on seeing the cracks. But I do remember him appearing sympathetic towards me. I was such a wretch.
With time, I have come to reclaim my life from apathy and laziness. I am now pleased to report that I have found joy in living. And I have discovered the secret to finding joy in living is taking delight in our hobbies and in such simple things as bathing and brushing our teeth. So these days, I engage in my hobbies regularly. I also shower daily and go for exercises everyday. As a result of taking delight in such simple things, I have gotten rid of cracks in my heels and regained my youthful swagger.
My dear reader, I urge you to also take delight in simple things. Bathe daily, brush your teeth everyday, bask in the Sun on a warm afternoon and make your bed after waking up in the morning. Such tasks are simple but they make a big difference in the quality of our lives. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on delight in simple things, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "What Freedom Entails". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.