In Search of Freedom - Reflections of a Young Man™

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In Search of Freedom

When I withdrew from classes at JKUAT as well as from church activities sometime in 2008, I spent a lot of my time alone in the university library where I became totally careless in my reading; careless in the sense that I read books without following any institution's syllabus. Like I read about the history of Japan and about the development of the Swahili language. And I also read a book about the value of reading.

I also tried to read the Bible from preface to index. Though I found most its books mired with many difficult-to-understand details, I identified with the fate of the Israelites who spent their time in bondage as narrated in the Book of Exodus. I felt like I too was in bondage because I was studying an engineering course that I found abstruse, couldn't be at ease with people, didn't have opportunities to travel and occasionally suffered from hatred, guilt as well as jealousy. Like I was regularly jealous of the success Barack Obama was having in America which I thought I was the one who deserved it.

To try delivering myself from that bondage, I spent some days in Nairobi roaming in the streets even at night. It was in some of those roaming episodes that I got to see prostitutes at work in their seductive, scanty attires. Some of them looked like mothers - the kind that I had been taught in school to trust and obey. Others looked young, innocent and beautiful - the kind that I would naturally want to ask out for a date. But even though I did admire their bodies, I am thankful to God that I never became one of their customers.

As I continued with this search for freedom, I found myself stopped to a halt by university authorities who thought I was sick. They forcefully rounded me up to hospitals where I was put on medication. And they started instructing me on what to do with my life. But through studying, praying and humility, I can now proudly proclaim that I am feeling freedom creeping into my life.

To be free is the best thing to be on earth. That's why President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in an address to the US congress in 1941, said, "...we look forward to a world founded upon four essential freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression... The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way... The third is freedom from want... The fourth is freedom from fear."


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Competing Only With Myself

To be honest, there were times I found it hard to stop envying others in this increasingly competitive world. I wondered how it came that some age-mates who were less brighter than me in school had achieved success that eluded me like getting engaged, meeting famous people, owning cars and flying abroad. That envy became too much that I had to go in exile from Facebook where my friends were showcasing their success.

Of late though, I have successfully managed to discipline myself to compare and compete only with the person I was yesterday. And what kind of a person was I yesterday?

Broadly speaking, I can classify my past life in three phases. The first phase covers my first twenty years in which I used to live an ordinary life of waking up early everyday mostly to attend school. My only limitations in that phase were confusion and poor social skills that people saw in me. Imagine I would get attracted to girls but never summon enough courage to talk to them!

I remember one Sunday afternoon in 2006 during a church youth group meeting when I was reading an international news magazine thinking I was impressing others only to overhear a youth group member named Cyrus remark to another, "There are people in this world who read a lot but can't socialize and get along well with others." Cyrus didn't mention my name but I instantly knew I was the target of his criticism. That's how socially undeveloped I was in my first life phase.

The second phase of my life began some time in 2008 after I was rejected by all the elite American colleges I applied to: Harvard, Yale, Stanford and MIT. Those rejections destabilized my life and made me realize that life was not only about books but also confidence and freedom.

Regarding my third phase in life, I have began it now. From this point onwards, I will strive to project a victorious attitude. I will strive to radiate a hopeful, expectant and cheerful countenance even in the face of failure, criticism, disappointment or discouragement. Hopefully by so doing, I will be able to attract the success I desire.

In summary, I led an ordinary life in the first phase of my life. Then came the rejections from American Colleges that transited me to the second phase characterized by constant struggle with life. And now, I am transiting to a third phase of extraordinary life. As you can see, I am comparing and competing only with the person I was yesterday. So help me God.


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The Value of Wisdom

H. Jackson Brown Jr., in his charming Life's Little Instructions Book, advises us to pray not only for things but also for wisdom and courage. I wrote about courage in a story accessible by clicking here but I will dwell on wisdom today.

Wisdom is valuable - more valuable that gold. It prolongs life as well as attracts wealth and honor. If we seek only knowledge and ignore wisdom, we will end up being like a cancerous organ that enlarges beyond the normal size in that we will waste time, energy and money on unnecessary expenses, activities and projects.

That's why God was so impressed with Solomon for asking wisdom. And because of wisdom, Solomon grew to be a man of great wealth, fame and power. He is still considered one of the wealthiest people in the crowded canvas of human history.

And where can we find wisdom? Well, I used to think it was a preserve of the white people, the elderly, the religious, the seemingly wealthy people and the academically intelligent. But from my own observations, I have recently discovered that it is randomly distributed to some people in all the cultures of the world.

So wisdom can be found in the meetings of elders, in the plays of children, in the proverbs of sages, in the sayings of bushmen as well as in the reflections of a young man.


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