Homage to Sir Isaac Newton
A True Story
on Aug 20, 2018
Do you recall from your high school classes learning of gravity? Of motion? Of heat energy? And of white light as being composed of a spectrum of several colours?
If you can't recollect all that, let me jog your memory a little bit by informing you that the man behind all those discoveries of nature that led to the industrial revolution in the 18th Century was none other than the great genius: Sir Isaac Newton.
And there is more that Newton discovered, invented, explored and expressed in depth. He not only formulated the laws of cooling, gravitation and planetary motion but also invented Calculus, the branch of Mathematics without which we would have no radios, computers, smart-phones or space-crafts. Was Newton not a great genius for shizzle?
A further proof of Newton's greatness was revealed on one occasion when he was serving in the British Parliament in his sunset years. Legend has it that during that occasion, the parliament was frenetic with noises of debates and arguments. But when Newton stood up, the whole assembly went dead with pin-drop silence. Everybody was keen to hear what the great Newton, who had hitherto never uttered a word in parliamentary proceedings, would say. Guess what Newton said? He just asked an usher to close a window because it was chilly and then he sat down.
I personally came to instinctively admire Newton in my high school years which led me to make his name the password of my first email account I opened in 2004 with the then ubiquitous Yahoo Inc. That day I opened that email address, I felt a pride of achievement which I expressed to my immediate elder brother Paddy.
"So what's your email password?" Paddy inquired.
"It is SirIsaacNewton," I responded with probably an air of pride.
To which Paddy reprimanded me, "You are never supposed to share that password with anyone." I felt slightly embarrassed for sharing the password with him but the lesson hit home.
Later on in 2008 when I was at the university in JKUAT where I was pursuing a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering, I tried to develop an imaginative, inventive and effervescent mind as that of Newton by spending a lot of time in the university's bucolic fields. On noting how I spent much of my time in those fields reading and reflecting, one casual labourer warned me that the fields were infested with snakes. I didn't heed his warning because I went on roaming in the fields where I lay on the grass one night while gazing at the same moon and stars that Newton had observed a few centuries earlier. Luckily for me, probably because of God's love for me, no snake bit me.
I am still a votary of Sir Isaac Newton though I am quite unsure whether I will ever match his greatness. Maybe I will if God gives me a hope and a future as He promises in the Book of Jeremiah.
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Sustainable Creative Living
A True Story
on Aug 14, 2018
Ever since I was a boy, I have always had a desire to be creative. I remember at one time in 1997 when I was nine, I asked my parents to get me a carton so that I could make a piano out of it. My parents did give me a carton but I eventually gave up with the ambition of making a piano from a carton because it was beyond my scope of understanding.
Then in 2001 when I was thirteen, I became interested in making a clock. I first successfully managed to cut a piece of white paper into a circular shape, and then beautifully scribbled all numbers of the clock around it. But when it came to having sticks move around the circular paper, that again proved to be beyond my reach of understanding.
And then in 2004 while I was at home here in Kiserian on a school holiday, I again developed an urge to do something creative that would astound people. This time, I tried to use an old sufuria as a satellite dish in an effort to make our television set display clearer images. The ploy didn't work.
Later on in 2006 when I was in my late teens, I decided to read Todd Siler's Think Like a Genius in an attempt to learn how creativity works. Let me share with you, my dear reader, what I learnt. If I become boring, stop me.
First, I learnt from the Todd Siler's book that even though there seems to be nothing new under the Sun, there are countless things that have not been invented, discovered, explored or expressed in depth. That reminds me of a time in 2003 or 2004 when my younger brother Symo told me that everything that can be invented has been invented. I refuted that claim which led us into an argument.
"Okay," Symo finally said, "Then tell me what has not been invented."
"Of course if I mention something," I protested, "It means it has been invented. It's that which hasn't been invented that I can't mention because I don't know it."
I am not sure if Symo understood my point. Recently, it has dawned on me that he hasn't been the only one to think that everything that can be invented has been invented. Like in the year of our Lord, 1899, a United States Commissioner of Patents named Charles H. Duell also thought so. Mark you, that was before computers, aircrafts and smartphones were invented.
Another lesson I learnt from Todd Siler's delightful book is that creativity is multi-faceted. Some of us think that being creative is all about inventing a machine or discovering a cure for some major disease. But nothing could be further from the truth. Writing a beautiful poem is also creativity. So is creating a visually appealing blog or just coming up with a simpler way of doing something. So some of us are constantly creative without knowing it.
Now that I have told you what I learnt about creativity, let me also mention what hinders creativity as I gleaned from Todd Siler's book. The first hindrance to creativity has got to do with the way we acquire knowledge. Most of us indoctrinate ourselves with facts (that is, drilling them into minds without question) and we call that learning. But true learning, the kind that inspires creativity, should be intellectually and emotionally arousing.
The second hindrance to creativity is carrying negative emotions in our hearts such as hatred, jealously and cynicism. Some people take a perverse pleasure in hating someone over and over in their minds but the truth is, hatred only corrodes our happiness and impairs us from thinking creatively. So if we aspire to be regularly creative, we must first free ourselves from all bitterness, rage and anger as St. Paul says in one of this epistles in the Bible. Adieu!
 Sufuria is an East African English word for a metal pot used for cooking.