Life lessons from my personal Victories and Defeats.
As impossible as it may seem you’ve got to fight for every dream, coz who’s to know, the one you let go would have made you complete…. West life’s Flying without Wings.
Struggling is the real meaning of life, victory and defeat, are in the hands, Of God so one, must enjoy in struggling.
I remember reading these words on a little cloth wall hanging at home. I must have been six or seven then. Beyond their rhythmic and lyrical sounds, they were just plain words, written on a cloth and hung on the wall.
I saw them again a couple of weeks ago. In my neighbors’ house. I read them slowly this time, twice. No longer noticing their rhythm but the wisdom they carried.
In January this year, I took up a teaching job and moved hundreds of miles from family and friends to a ‘strange land ‘and a school in the middle of a forest. I came out in search of among other things, meaning of life, peace of mind, adventure and a new real challenge.
In retrospect now, I understand that one more reason I ran off was because I had stopped enjoying everyday life. I had turned into an unfortunate unmotivated pessimist and I needed to get up on my feet as fast as I possibly could. I too was stuck in what the writer of ‘Who moved my Cheese’ calls a rut race.
Instead of enjoying the beautiful sunrise in the city, I hated getting up. I loathed struggling to get a matatu in the morning and listening to Maina and king’angi rant about how impossible it was to have a happy marriage, throwing one more cold blanket over my romanticized belief in happily ever afters’. I distasted getting through the office door every morning and settling in to just another day of routine. I looked forward to Fridays, end of year and salary increments. Just anything to make life more bearable. Most days, I was too worked up to call my friends. Consequently, my friendships suffered. At home, I was too exhausted to spend quality time with family and I got a lot of ‘oh, what happened to you, we miss the ‘real you’. That, coming from the teenagers in my house didn’t help my mood much. I never got enough time to write and hence my dream of writing was becoming a mirage. At one point, I stopped working with teens in church, gave up high school missions and stopped going to church for a while. My relationship with God was fading too. And I felt that I badly needed to figure out my life on my own, Alone.
And there was my good friend M, in almost the same job as mine, enjoying work. Enjoying church, putting in too much effort in our friendship, trying to get me back to my ‘real self again(okay, what’s the deal with the so called ‘real Me’, could the real me please stand up? then again, (*why is it that when your life is really not working out your friends seem to be having a ball? Huh
There is something about the human spirit. About just how low we can allow ourselves to sink in that bottomless abyss of hopelessness. Mostly at such times, if we look hard enough, there is always that one life rope that is dangling right before our eyes, that Shakespearian tide that passes once and if we ride on it just at the right time, it will lead us to meaning again. For it is God’s simple way of telling us ‘I got your back buddy’.
Mine came in the form of a phone call. From an uncle who heard news of a school looking for a Business\ Geography teacher somewhere in Baringo. It wasn’t exactly the prestigious job I had hoped for, but at least it offered a chance to work with teenagers. Plus I would get a holiday, I’d get to be home over Christmas (yeah it’s that childhood habit I can never give up. singing carols, decorating the tree, sending out cards, letters and gifts* can’t wait for this year’s…..136 days to go:–) and it wasn’t routinely boring. As a bonus, it would allow me to employ my creativity as much as I deemed possible for the benefit of another humans’ holistic development.
I travelled to Eldoret, for the very first time in my life. Changed my mind when I figured just how far Baringo was but sat for the interview nonetheless. I accepted the job not knowing even how much I’d get as a salary, that how badly I needed to get my life back on track again!
I got the job, wrote a resignation at my other job, packed my bags and went off, to meet my random future in confidence.
In her book ‘the Blue Sweater’ by Longhorn Publishers, (the most inspiring book I have read this year) Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of Acumen Fund international says, ‘they say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I took mine, and fell flat on my face. (In her twenties, Jacque gave up a promising wall street career and moved to Africa to ‘change the world’ only to find out, as I would later on, that, to change the word requires God given wisdom and patience and a stubborn persistence and refusal to give up and giving what you have in totality, your 100% despite it not being enough sometimes.
Unlike Jacque, my landing was rather smooth ,at first. I started off on a dreamy cruise. Enjoying the company of teenagers and doing what I deemed everything within my power to help them build big dreams and realize them.
In term one, I wrote a play (for the very first time in my life) then spent endless weeks directing and training with the students. It did look hopeless at first and I remember going to my wood cabin house distraught and almost hopeless when after auditions, it turned out that only one of my over 50 drama students could speak clear and good English, with correct pronunciation and minimal mother tongue influence. So it came to pass that as I trained the students on stage movement, facial expression and mastery of content, I had to work hard on pronunciation too.
Weeks of endless practice and sleepless nights culminated into an agonizing hour of reckoning at the Baringo County Drama Festivals and I held my breath all through, feeling like the Ghanaian football coach during the world cup match against Paraguay. The performance went beautifully. No forgotten lines, no stammering, perfect classical music in the background and a total silence in the hall full of a captivated animated faces.
In his book ‘The Alchemist’ the Brazilian Bestselling author Paulo Coelho tells the story of a young shepherd boy, Santiago, who leaves his home in search of a treasure he has been dreaming of. As fate would have it, he ends up penniless at a merchants’ shop. He then comes up with a great business idea and coaxes the merchant to adopt it in his business.’ We have to take advantage, it is called the principle of favorability or beginners luck’ he says.
We got third position, most original play and best actor and proceeded to the Rift Valley Provincials. I watched my students shout and scream with joy and felt a warm sensation in my heart thinking that perhaps this was my ‘beginners luck’ and the sky was the limit. I would soon find out that I was, after all, quite wrong.