Not Taking Things For Granted
A True Story
on Aug 18, 2021
In his book Gifted Hands, renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson wrote that we tend to take for granted such simple blessings as swallowing food with ease. He wrote so as he narrated the ordeal of one of the patients he operated on. The patient, who underwent a brain-stem surgery, had trouble swallowing food after surgery. But later on during his convalescence, he was able to eat food normally - a healing that elated Ben Carson.
I read Gifted Hands a few years ago for the second time. And I found it somewhat moving to learn about the suffering of the patients that Ben Carson operated on. Some of the patients had to have parts of their brains removed to prevent recurrence of seizures - operations that made Ben Carson fear the patients would lose such skills as playing a musical instrument.
As I continued turning the pages of the riveting book and read more about Ben Carson's account of his successful as well as unsuccessful surgeries, I couldn't help appreciating my own health. Here I was in a peaceful location in Kenya, full of health and quite talented at playing the piano. The book led me to realize that those are blessings not to be taken for granted.
Over the past one year, I have read a couple more stories of other folks who have gone through harrowing experiences that have deepened my appreciation of what I am bless with. Just the other month, I came across in a newspaper a story of a woman who went blind at the age of 31. While reading the story, I imagined how the woman felt as she came to grips with the fact that she would never see again. Did that depress her? I wondered.
Then a few days ago, I received in my email a devotional article about another woman named Diane Comer who turned deaf at the age of 26. At the time she turned deaf, she had four children to nurture and take care of. And turning deaf troubled her, for she worried how she would ever communicate with her children. She would miss hearing their stories and laughter.
Those touching stories I have read of folks lacking the blessings I take for granted are what have made me realize that I ought to thank my lucky stars. I am sure there are people in America who wish they had the health and the talents I possess. (Mark you, that's the America where most people want to study, work and live in because of the opportunities that are said to abound there.)
Yet instead of being immensely grateful for such blessings, I confess to waking up in the morning on some days with thoughts of past hurts foremost in my mind. Also, I sometimes tend to dwell on what I lack instead of being grateful for possessing such "little" blessings as eyesight and sense of hearing. Boy, don't I behave like a rebellious teenager at times!
From my experiences of tending to dwell on the negative, I have realized that we have to work hard at focusing on the positive side of life - the way a farmer has to diligently cultivate a garden of cabbages by getting rid of weeds and watering the cabbages. It sure takes effort to focus on the positive side of life and be grateful for our blessings.
Having realized that, I have resolved to put in extra effort at cultivating a grateful spirit within me. I will appreciate the blessings that most of us take for granted. Blessings such as being able to see, to hear and to swallow food with ease. Such are the kind of blessings I will focus on instead of dwelling on what I lack or wallowing in bitterness over past hurts.
My dear reader, I urge you to also not take your blessings for granted. Appreciate what you have before time forces you to appreciate what you had. Trust me, there is someone out there who wishes they had what you take for granted. So be grateful even for the little blessings because one day, you'll look back and realize they were big blessings. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on not taking things for granted, you might also enjoy another one I wrote about three years ago on "Choosing Gratitude." Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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A Brother & a Friend
A True Story
on Aug 13, 2021
During one of my senior brother's marriage arrangement ceremonies in 2012, I chatted with my younger brother Symo on issues I can't remember. But I must have conversed with him a lot and in an affectionate manner because later on, an aunt of mine named Mama Mambo told me that she had noted Symo and I are very close. Mama Mambo was right in her observation, for Symo and I have always been as close together as the way an alcoholic is to beer.
Back in the '90s when we were growing up here in Kiserian, Symo and I did a lot of things together. We grazed cattle together, tilled our farm together, harvested maize together, prepared meals together, walked to school together, attended church on Sundays together and exchanged banter about our experiences at school. We were that close.
About the only thing we didn't do together was watching movies in Kiserian. You see, there was a time in the mid '90s when Symo got to know of a studio in Kiserian Town that showed movies. On knowing about it, he would after church service head to the studio to watch movies instead of taking tea in a certain food cafe. He would use the money given to him by Mum for buying tea to pay for his entrance into the studio.
The movies must have captivated Symo given the way he requested me to join him in the studio. I declined his requests, so he went to the studio without my company until one Sunday when our Dad discovered he was spending his Sunday afternoons watching movies. Dad castigated him and commanded him to desist going to the studio.
Besides watching movies, Symo also enjoyed watching the telly here at home. His favorite TV shows were Robocop, Sinbird and Conan the Adventurer. He watched the shows on the black & white television set called "Greatwall" that we owned and which I am sure some of my agemates are familiar with.
Symo and I grew so close together that in 2005 when he failed to make it to Starehe Boys' Centre, I deeply sympathized with him. Starehe was then one of the best high schools in Kenya where I was pursuing my secondary school education. Having failed to make it to Starehe, Symo was admitted at Murang'a High School - a lesser known school in those days.
While Symo was a first-former at Murang'a High School in 2005, he mailed me a letter exhorting me to work hard in my studies. The letter moved me immensely. I am sure it bolstered me to study more diligently, which I did and scored an 'A' in my final high school exams. How I wish I had kept the letter for future reference!
Then sometime in 2008 when Symo was in his final year at Murang'a High School, he coaxed me to visit him at school. He enticed me into visiting him by telling me his classmates would treat me with awe and respect. I was touched by his pleas but for some strange reasons, I never paid him a visit at his school. To this day, I have never had an idea of what Murang'a High School looks like.
I noted that after Symo finished his high school career in November 2008, he developed a negative attitude towards me. There was, for instance, a time I asked him why butchers put bones in our meat yet we don't eat bones. Instead of answering my question politely, he rudely retorted in Kikuyu, "Why are you reasoning like someone who never went to high school? Don't you know that bones add flavour to soup?"
Symo's negative attitude towards me intensified when we stayed together here at home in 2014 after he cleared his university studies. He would sometimes be tough on me when I displeased him. And he would sometimes put me down when I did things my own way. His negative attitude towards me made me dislike him so much that I was somewhat glad when he landed a job in 2015 and left home to live alone.
But guess what! In the last five years, Symo has turned over a new leaf by treating me with kindness, generosity and understanding. Last year, he gave me his Samsung Galaxy smartphone at a time when I needed a new phone since my old tablet had become too outdated to run some social media apps. With the ability to be unlocked using fingerprints, the Samsung Galaxy smartphone is the most advanced phone I have ever possessed.
Then this year, Symo sent me Ksh. 7,500 to pay for a new set of clothes I had taken at one of my uncle's shop in downtown Nairobi. The new clothes - two shirts and two pairs of trousers - were a godsend because my old clothes had become too big for me following my successful weight loss last year. Oh, how grateful I am to Symo for the generous gesture!
Apart from gifting me with a smartphone and sending me money, Symo has also encouraged me to keep blogging by giving me positive feedback on the stories I share on this blog. A few weeks ago, he described one of my stories as "beautifully written and completely relatable" - the kind of feedback that keeps writers inspired to write more.
Because of his generosity and encouraging attitude, Symo is now more than a brother to me; he is a friend I can confidently turn to when I am in need. My love for him has bubbled up and spilled over like the foam of root beer sliding down the side of a glass. It is that love for him that has compelled me to write this story. May God bless him abundantly for being such an encouraging friend to me.
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you missed my social media updates two days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced a new hymn which is available in the videos' section of this blog. Just click on the "videos" link on the menu at the top of this blog to listen to the hymn.