Scoring in Life - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Scoring in Life

This is the 2006 Brazil soccer team. More on it in the story of mine below.

When I wrote in my previous story of my wonderful experience in my days at Starehe Institute, I forgot to tell you that I also did watch football especially the English Premier League and the 2006 FIFA World Cup while at the institute. I found it exciting to look forward to matches which provided me with enough tales for showing off to friends.

Of the numerous world-class footballers that I got to know back then, there was one who stood out from the crowd from my perspective. That was Ronaldinho de Gaucho.

I admired Ronaldinho not only for his good looks and dribbling skills but also for his trademark grin. He seemed to be in love with the game as some other footballers frowned on the pitch. I so much admired him that I put his image on the home window of the software I developed on the 2006 World Cup soccer fixtures.

And when the world cup began in June that year, I strongly rooted for Brazil which I fervently believed would win the cup because of its then talented attacking combo of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. But alas! The team was sent packing after a quarter-final loss to France which made me so heartsick that I was unable to attend church the following day.

But I still love Ronaldinho whom I occasionally watch in action on Youtube during his heydays in which he won the La Liga and Champions League with FC Barcelona, Copa America as well as the FIFA Confederations Cup and the World Cup with Brazil - the benchmarks of a truly remarkable football career.

No wonder he was selected once as the European Player of the Year and twice in a row as the FIFA World Player of the Year. To the best of my knowledge, only Ronaldo (of Brazil) and Zinedine Zidane can rival Ronaldinho in their range of football accomplishments. I stand to be corrected.

Although I no longer watch live football matches these days, I treasure the lesson I gleaned from the game: that the performance of a football team is not judged by how well it plays but by how many goals it scores. So a team can play well by dribbling skilfully and making clever passes but if it fails to score, it is no better than that of lousy players.

And after reflecting on that lesson, I have discovered that life too is like a football game in that we have to score on the important aspects of life such as health, wealth, peace and love if we are truly to be remarkable. If we try to live well by eating a balanced diet, reading regularly and exercising physically but still struggle with low self-esteem, loneliness, poverty and hatred, then we are no better than alcoholics.

As for me, I am trying to score on those important aspects of life especially on my finances which are pitiably low at the moment. I hope to score well like FC Barcelona's current prolific attacking combo of Messi, Suarez and Neymar.


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Blooming Where Planted

These are some of my buddies at Starehe Institute where I bloomed (from left) Duncan Kinai, Stephen Mutevu and Theophilus Kamwaro. Now that I am in touch with Kinai via Whatsapp, maybe I should ask him why he was shouting. No, I will not.

Starehe Boys' Centre, a well-endowed institution of which I am a proud alumnus, had an institute during our time where students from the school's secondary division could enrol to pursue a course in Accounting or Information Technology (IT). I didn't want to proceed into that institute as my high school years came to an end in November 2005 because someone had led me to believe the institute was not for sophisticated young men like the one I had grown up to be.

As fate would have it, I failed to get a job after high school and my attempt to enrol at the upscale Strathmore College in Nairobi backfired simply because my parents could not afford to put me through that college. So I had no option but to report back to Starehe in January 2006 to join the institute where I had wisely applied for admission just in case things failed to work out.

And alas! My experience at the institute turned out to be wonderful because I took advantage of the marvellous resources at Starehe to grow intellectually. Like I learnt how to use a computer in the Institute labs that had a commendable student-computer ratio of almost 1:1. I also kept aflame my interests in public speaking and music thanks to the student meetings and several pianos in the school.

But the greatest resource at Starehe Institute was time. The IT course I pursued was relatively easy and the teachers were lackadaisical. Like one Mr. Kagete would go for a week without turning up in class to teach us. I took advantage of those free times to swim, play football, do personal reading, improve my computer programming skills and browse the internet where I learnt more about the top American colleges that I applied for admission.

And on Sundays, I would sneak out of Starehe early in the morning to be with my hometown Catholic Church youth group where I almost fell in love with Gloria Thigwe, a charming young lady who has long since been married to another man. I used to sneak out of Starehe because I thought it was wise to interact with the outside world instead of getting confined to the school throughout the week yet I was an adult complete with a national identity card.

As I reflect on those good old days at Starehe Institute, I feel proud of myself for blooming at the institute where I found myself planted against my wish. And that's the kind of blooming I am trying to achieve at the moment when I have found myself planted in my rural home at Kiserian in the Great Rift Valley. I am blooming impressively given my current levels of peace and creativity which I thought I could have attained only by attending Harvard, Yale or Stanford where I was denied admission thrice.

So I encourage you to also bloom where you are planted. Like if you are in a remote village school, study like never before and mesmerize students from elite schools with your literary skills. And if you have been forced back to your rural home because you went broke in the city, farm with some passion till your agribusiness becomes a case-study at Wharton Business School. Bloom!


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Benefits of Laughing

It's a beautiful Thursday morning here in my rural home near Kiserian Town as I write this story. The incandescent Sun is rising in the East to light up the atmosphere that has been dark in this hemisphere of the Earth. On the one hand, the care-free birds are stirring up in their nests after a restful night to begin a busy day in which God will cater for their food as they wander around our area. Oh, how loving our Heavenly Father is!

On the other hand, I have been awake all night during which I cleaned my room, took a hot shower, leafed through a colourful brochure of the London School of Economics and played a few pieces of music on my electric piano keyboard including the majestic hymn, Tell Out My Soul the Greatness of the Lord!. I also laughed heartily as I sometimes do when I am all alone in my room.

Yes, I do laugh a lot these days which at moments makes my mother inquire what's tickling me. It used to concern her but she has now gotten so used to my laughing that she doesn't mind any more. (Okay, I will make an effort of leaving my mother's home.)

And laughing is beneficial because it promotes good health and speeds healing as some health experts propound. Sean Covey wrote in his landmark book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, that laughter:
  • Loosens up the mental gears and helps us to think more creatively
  • Helps us to cope with the difficulties of life
  • Reduces stress
  • Relaxes us as it lowers our heart rate and blood pressure
  • Connects us with others and counteracts the feeling of alienation, a major factor in depression and suicide
  • Releases endorphins, the brain's natural painkillers [1]
So I will continue making laughter part of my life for the rest of my time here on Earth. And my future wife should be prepared for that kind of laughing lifestyle before we exchange our wedding vows, God-willing.

Why should I not laugh after all? Am I not a child of the Almighty God who caters for my needs like He does for the birds? Is my life not under His control even in moments of challenge?

[1] I have extracted these benefits of laughing from page 233 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey, published in 1998 by Simon & Schuster.


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