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Cultivating Love

This is the cover-page of Bill Clinton's autobiography, a brilliantly written memoir I loved carrying around when I was at the university in JKUAT. More on it in the story of mine below.


King Solomon, the out-of-wedlock son of David, was once asked by the Lord to request for that one thing he desired most - so says the Holy Bible in the Book of 2nd Chronicles. I can imagine the excitement that boiled up in King Solomon as he contemplated on what to ask from the Owner of the Universe.

"Should I ask of me to meet the woman of my dreams somewhere out there tomorrow? Or should I ask for financial breakthroughs in the business I am trying to establish as a side-hustle?"

Surprisingly, or perhaps knowingly, King Solomon didn't ask for any material possession. Instead he asked for wisdom and knowledge. He must have understood that the renown that riches and beauty confer is fleeting and frail. And that mental excellence is a splendid and a lasting possession.

Being a faithful God, the Lord conferred Solomon with wisdom and knowledge. And that eventually made Solomon a man of wealth and honour. To this day, he is still recognized as one of the wealthiest men in the crowded canvas of human history.

Since the same God that Solomon worshipped is the same God I worship today, I have also decided to ask from Him that one thing I desire most.

You see, the same Sun that rose in the East in the morning here in Kiserian is the same Sun that shone during Solomon's days. And the same Moon that glistened last month here in Thuita's Home-town is the same Moon that beamed during Solomon's days.

So, don't you think I am in order when I say the same God whom Solomon worshipped is the same God whom I worship? And His holy name is the Lord, the Mighty One.

And that one thing I have asked from the Lord is love.

Now, the Bible extols the virtue of love. It even says God is love. Jesus categorized the love for God, for yourself and for fellow man as the greatest commandment.

Then St. Paul added to the mix of knowledge by saying love is the greatest virtue; greater than hope and faith. He added that even if we acquire a Masters' degree and a PhD. but still lack love, then we have gained nothing. (Well, he didn't say exactly that but he meant that anyway).

And by prioritising love, I think Jesus and St. Paul must have understood that if we acquire love in its truest measure, all other virtues such as courage, diligence and gratitude come easily into our lives.

When I look around in the modern world, the one person who seems to me to be the best living model of love is Bill Clinton. Here is the dedication part of his autobiography (see photo above) which makes me think so:
To my mother, who gave me a love of life

To Hillary, who gave me a life of love

To Chelsea, who gave joy and meaning to it all

And to the memory of my grandfather, who taught me to look up to people others look down on because we're not so different after all
That dedication reflects a person who understands love in its truest measure. A person who loves living because he lives loving by not looking down on anyone - even the petty thieves that are the most loathed people in the world.

Yes, that's the kind of love I have asked from God. To love Him with all my heart, mind and soul; to love myself and who I am; to love my fellow humans regardless of their sex, race, tribe, creed or sexual orientation.

As of loving my fellows humans, have you noted I have omitted disabled people from the list of spectrum of people I would like to love? And that's because we are all disabled in that no one is perfect apart from God.

You see, the impression most folks have when they hear of disabled people is those who are deaf, mute, crippled etc. But coming to think of it, there are people with ears but don't understand issues, with eyes but can't see the truth and with legs but hardly ever exercise to keep their bodies fit.

Yes, we are all disabled in one way or another. I just like the way Rev. Jesse Jackson said in his famous 1984 U.S. Democratic National Convention speech in San Francisco: that the disabled have their handicap revealed and their genius concealed while the able-bodied have their genius revealed and their disability concealed.

Anyway, coming back to the topic of love, I have also asked God for love in all my endeavours. For the moment, I am focusing on writing since it is the only hobby I can afford to practice daily. So I have requested God to convert that writing hobby from something I have to do to something I love to do. See?

I have also asked God for love to accept and appreciate life challenges because as you well know, being alive is not always an easy task. Unforeseen problems always arise - lack, theft, failure, criticism, rejections, disagreements, injuries, sicknesses, technological hiccups and loss of loved ones.

As for me, such are the kind of challenges I have asked God to make me love. Maybe that sounds weird to you but let's listen to these words of General George S. Patton, a senior officer of the United States Army who commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean theatre of World War II: "Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory."

That's the end of my story, my dear reader. Do have a lovely weekend. See you again here on Monday, God-willing. Adieu!

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Leaving Revenge to God

This is the Princeton Review SAT revision book (2008 edition). I bought a copy of that book in 2007 when I was applying to top American Colleges for the second time. Apart from the picture of the beautiful lass on the cover-page, I also loved a passage in the book that gave me a good idea of what précis writing entails. And yes, I am not confused; I will use a lesson I learnt from the SAT exam to advise you to always leave revenge to God.


"That SAT exam," I confidently told my friend Kevin [not his real name] back in 2006, "I will score over 2100 in it."

"Even I thought so," replied Kevin, "but I only managed to score an 1880."

Kevin and I were applying to MIT back then in 2006 and he happened to have sat for the SAT exam before me. Even though he kind of insinuated it was impossible of me to get a high score in the exam, I still believed every word I said when I made it known to him my goal of scoring over 2100 in my first attempt of the SAT.

And everything about the exam tended to make me believe more that I could accomplish that goal. Its questions were multiple-choice. Then the Maths section of the exam tested what I had learnt in junior high school - yes junior, not senior!

The Critical Reading part of the exam appeared to be the only section that stood to give me trouble because it involved reading through boring and stilted passages. It also required that I absorb a huge number of college-level vocabularies.

But even with that troublesome Critical Reading section, I still thought I could score over 2100 - the kind of marks that most admitted students to MIT, Cornell, Dartmouth and Stanford (the colleges I applied for admission in 2006) score.

Then the SAT exam day reached. Even though I had already toured the testing centre to familiarize myself with the venue beforehand, I didn't feel as clear-headed that day as I would have loved. Perhaps for that reason, I messed up in the exam by filling the answers of Section 4 of the exam on the part reserved for Section 5 in the answer booklet.

No sooner had I realized that big blunder than I got into a panic. So much that I wet my pants. The invigilator was kind enough to allow me to rub the answers from the answer booklet and transfer them to the relevant section. But that of course worked against me as time is a determining factor in acing the exam.

Wetting my pants was a pleasant feeling but afterwards, I was filled with a gloomy foreboding that I would score low marks in that first take of the SAT exam. That meant I had hurt my chances of getting into the selective colleges I was applying for admission.

Sure, I did score low marks in the exam - 1770. Mark you, I was the same guy who had confidently told Kevin I would score over 2100 in the exam.

So as soon as I received the results online, I began to cajole my father to pay for me another registration of the exam. But he confided in me that he was too cash-strapped to afford the Ksh. 4,900 that was required for the registration of the exam.

Luckily, my mother came through to my aid by selling one or two sheep we reared at home. And finally after registering for the SAT exam for the second time, I began to study for it more earnestly. Once bitten, twice shy.

Although I was sanguine I would make a significant improvement in my second take of the exam, I have to confess the Critical Reading section of the SAT still worried me. It made me realize that I had memory like a sieve in that I would strive to understand the meaning of a college-level vocabulary and then forget it soon afterwards. It was like the vocabularies were getting into my head through one ear and out in the other - thus leaving an empty mind inside my fearfully and wonderfully made brain.

The good news is: I did make a significant improvement in my second taking by scoring 1880 marks. But the bad news was: the score was still not good enough to get into MIT, Cornell, Dartmouth and Stanford.

Well, I did put in great effort in submitting a strong application by even mailing samples of an educational website I had created with my classmates at Starehe Institute and cassette recordings of me playing the piano but that did nothing to save me from getting rejected by the colleges. They all denied me admission.

By the way, as you might deduce from the caption of the Princeton Review SAT revision book's cover-page photo above, I did apply to another set of top American colleges for two more years. In the process, I retook the SAT exam two more times.

I would really have loved to tell you what transpired in my third and fourth attempt of the exam but I am afraid I could bore you with too many details. So let me reserve that story for another day, God-willing.

As for today, let me tell you the lessons I learnt from the SAT exam. First, I learnt the exam tests more of your reasoning skills than on your amount of knowledge. That's why it's possible for some 'C' students to outscore some 'A' students.

Then I learnt that the Critical Reading section of the exam favours those with a high lexicon density. Or in more human terms, it favours those with a strong word power - a vital factor in having a fulfilling career.

Perhaps even more important, I learnt never to revenge from an irony in the exam. You see, the SAT test-makers gave you very boring and stilted passages to read in the Critical Reading section of the exam. And they then asked you to give them a very interesting essay to read in the Writing section of the exam. (They even advised you to write in a plain, natural style).

If you dared make the mistake of revenging by giving them a boring and stilted essay to read, they'd probably give you a low score. And that meant you'd not get into your favourite college. Moral of the story - revenge is for suckers; leave it to God.

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RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the story above, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back titled "Salvation is Free Folks!" and which I edited several weeks ago. Just click on that link in blue to jump straight into the story.

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