Activeness & Alertness - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Activeness & Alertness

There was this schoolmate of mine at Starehe Boys' Centre named Cyrus Mugo who was a year ahead of me academically but a dozen more years ahead when it came to radiating confidence. He exuded an aura of leadership with his machismo and commanding voice. He was among the starting six players of the Starehe volleyball team that made it to national championships for three years in a row. And he managed to balance sports activities with academic excellence because he scored an A in the mighty KCSE exams.

With all those impressive qualities, I have always wondered how it was that Mugo was never appointed school captain of Starehe Boys' - a leadership position that opened doors to matriculating in such elite universities as Yale, Harvard and Stanford. But that's none of my business and I am happy for him that he is now a qualified doctor after he pursued a demanding five-year degree in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Nairobi - the Harvard of East and Central Africa.

I have narrated that story of Mugo after remembering a question he loved asking in Sheng' to inattentive volleyball team-mates while playing games: "Mbona unazubaa like a zombie?" - which loosely translates in English as, "Why are you lazing around like a zombie?"

While I can't recall if he ever directed that question at me when we served in the volleyball team together, I have found myself remembering that question again and again not only for its nice-sounding alliteration but also for having found it pertinent to day-to-day living. I mean that in life, just like in a volleyball match, we ought not to laze around like zombies.

Instead, we need to be active and alert lest we risk becoming poor, getting conned, falling sick, succumbing to accidents, having moral lapses or getting taken advantage of by others. That sounds like a paraphrase of the Proverbs of Solomon, doesn't it?

So as for me, I have resolved to always keep my mind active and alert at something constructive. Like I will always carry a book with me when going for a trip or visiting a barber shop just in case I am told to wait. And keeping my mind active and alert during the day will improve the quality of my sleep at night as Science propounds.

Don't get me wrong - I don't mean to say I will always be on the move. No! I will also carve some time for relaxation. And I will not consider it idleness so long as I am relaxing while having beautiful thoughts flow in my mind like the Nile River towards the Mediterranean Sea.

I urge you to likewise join me in this journey of activeness and alertness, especially mentally because thoughts create our lives. Let us not laze around like zombies. Or as my friend Cyrus Mugo would put it, "Tusizubae like zombies!"


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Wealth and Honour

Early in 2012, I decided to visit Starehe Boys' Centre to arrange with the centre's head honchos on how I could give an inspirational talk to the students of the school where I had pursued my secondary and college education. But I was disappointed to be turned away at the gate by a rude guard.

Undeterred, I turned up the following day and thankfully, this time round the guard permitted me to proceed to the school's main office. I was eventually allowed to give my talk which I plagiarized from an inspiring speech delivered to the 1986 graduating class of Breckenridge High School in Minnesota by Senator Gerry Sikorski.

But instead of feeling proud of the talk that I gave during 4.00pm Starehe evening assembly, I felt terribly sick on my way back home for having not been received at the school with the honour I desired probably because I turned up in dusty shoes and hadn't carved a spot in the Who's Who list of the world's most influential people.

And that experience instilled me with a desire to be honoured just like the way my hero, King David, was honoured during his time as recorded in 1st Chronicles 29:28. So I have really tried to work on these essential virtues which bring wealth and honour:
  1. Love for God, myself and people
  2. Forgiving myself and others
  3. Having the courage to say "no" and to confront people mistreating me.
  4. Being grateful for my current blessings
  5. Developing confidence especially of expressing myself eloquently
  6. Working hard because as Myles Munroe put it, "Destiny demands diligence"
  7. Developing an attractive personality that stems from sincerity of purpose
  8. Aiming for excellence because as President Franklin Roosevelt put it, happiness comes not from the mere possession of money but from the thrill of creative effort
  9. Having persistence and determination which are the keys to success as President Calvin Coolidge pointed out
  10. Honouring my parents who are fortunate to be alive and together today as I write this story
  11. Having integrity and praying daily
So far, especially this year which will end in less than a fortnight from now, I have worked on those virtues and felt them grow in me like a foetus in a womb. I will continue working on them with the faith that they will attract the wealth and honour I fervently desire.

Hopefully next time I visit Starehe, I will be received warmly at the gate in my dark-coloured land-cruiser. And when I die, I pray that History may record that "Thuita died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth and honour". So help me God.


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Making Life Beautiful

While wandering through the world wide web some years back in search of a wonderful short story we studied in high school, I came across a thought-provoking blog whose author seemed to be possessed with a rare insight in human nature. I eventually befriended the blogger who occasionally permitted me to plagiarize his stories before I discovered that plagiarism can cause acute foolishness.

The blogger has long since withdrawn his blog from the net and my attempts to cajole him to bring it back online have proved futile because he neither picks my calls nor replies to my messages these days. But I am sure he reads this re-branded website of mine. (Yes, it's you Ngishili Njuguna!)

So I beg to reproduce an insightful short story that he posted in his now extinct blog. I have edited it for clarity which am sure Ngishili will not object because I have acknowledged him as the author of the story. My edited version goes as follows:
"Life is a gift. Like any other gift someone might give us, we are the ones responsible for adding value to our lives.

Take the example of a vase. If someone was to give us such a gift, we might opt to accept the vase and hide it in a private corner in a house to prevent it from being accidentally broken. Or we might opt to put flowers in the vase and showcase it in a prominent space in the house where others will admire it often.

Opting to showcase the vase in a prominent place with flowers in it adds value to the vase. Being the people who received it as a gift, we are the ones who have added value to it.

Similarly, we are the ones responsible for adding value to the gift we call life. And how can we add value to the life God gave us? By making use of our in-born talents as well as the skills we acquire in school and in the real world.

So we ought to ask ourselves: what are our in-born talents and skills? Could it be drawing cartoons, working with numbers, tinkering with machines or counselling troubled people? And are we making use of those in-born talents and skills on a regular basis?

There is a catch here though. Other than knowing our talents and skills, it is important to know what they can be used for. For example, a vase is useful in showcasing flowers and will break if used as a hammer for nails. So we should learn also where to apply our talents and skills most effectively. See?"
That story touched me with its parable-like simplicity and wisdom which I have strived to apply in my life. I may be lacking a university degree but am glad that so far, I have been productively developing every talent God gave me: writing, walking, socializing, singing, web-designing, public-speaking, piano-playing and computer-programming. Like I personally set up this website using the KISS Principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).

I urge you to also join me in this journey of developing our talents so as to make use of this gift we call life; it's the best, easiest and perhaps the only way to lead a fulfilling life. And let us strive to apply those gifts with some passion, some fashion, some class and some style.


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