Gaining Wisdom in Pain - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Gaining Wisdom in Pain



I can't exactly recall which match we were watching in Starehe Boys' Ngala House whose captain was one Paul Byatta back in 2006. It must have been the FA Cup final between Liverpool and West Ham in those days when Steven Gerrard was at the peak of his football career. But I do vividly recall getting angered by Byatta when he switched off the television as the match went on after we became noisy and rowdy.

Byatta pissed me off that I uttered some negative comments about him to my equally upset friends. And later on when I heard someone say that Byatta wanted to attend the prestigious Harvard College, I said to myself, "Not, that guy can't make it there. He is not a Harvard material."

But alas! Byatta was accepted by Harvard two years later - the same college that rejected me twice which depressed me given the effort I put in crafting my application and the way I regularly visualized myself walking through the streets of Harvard. God must have been using the pain to teach me a valuable lesson: to never mock, ridicule or laugh at anyone's dream.

It must have been the sort of lesson learnt by the white woman who was captured on camera in 1957 yelling at a 15-year-old black girl named Elizabeth Eckford who was attempting to join the then whites-only Little Rock Central High School. The white woman publicly apologized forty years later for yelling at the innocent and determined Eckford who was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton in 1999.

And so Aeschylus, the ancient Greek tragedian, was on point when he wrote of pain bringing us wisdom against our will through the awful grace of God. Let us therefore use every pain as a tool of gaining wisdom instead of shrinking to depression or resorting to prostitution and alcoholism.

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The Other Meaning of Poverty



I thank God that I managed to wake up to a beautiful morning yesterday feeling refreshed enough to continue fighting for my dreams. So I drank a cup of warm water, read a few Proverbs of Solomon, played some hymns on my piano keyboard and went for a jog to Kiserian Town about two kilometres away. I also re-read my previous story in this website on getting rich which I edited to correct a grammatical error that had escaped my notice.

As I re-read and reflected on that story of mine on getting rich, I remembered a thought-provoking passage I came across some years back in Being the Best, an enlightening classic by Denis Waitley. The passage which shed light on another form of poverty in the modern materialistic world, read as follows:
"Poverty is untested potential, resulting from self-imposed limitations.
Poverty is working a lifetime doing something you don't like, so you can retire and do something you like after age 65.
Poverty is having many acquaintances and not knowing any of them well.
Poverty is having so many clothes, you 'haven't a thing to wear'.
Poverty is eating so well you have to think about going on a diet.
Poverty is having every pill imaginable to cure your body's ills because you 'can't afford to be sick'.
Poverty is being loaded down with toys at birthdays and Christmas, and then being bored silly because there's nothing to do.
Poverty is having three degrees and feeling unfulfilled in your job.
Poverty is having two cars, three TV's, and a dishwasher, and then 'roughing it' by going camping to 'get away from it all'.
Poverty is going, day-to-day, from one building to the next and never stopping to see the beauty in the world outside.
Poverty is spending money on make-up, deodorants, colognes and designer clothes, and still being worried about the image you are projecting.
Poverty is never being curious about the world around you and never wanting to explore it or the people in it.
Poverty is as much of the soul, as it is the body." [1]
That quoted passage resonates with the question Jesus posed to his followers, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" As for me, I will not only continue working at the hobbies I love while praying for financial breakthroughs but also pause once in a while to check I haven't lost the things money can't buy. So help me God.

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[1] I have extracted the passage from page 108 of Being the Best (paperback edition) by Denis Waitley, published in 1979 by Pocket Books - a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.

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Getting Rich



While I can't recall which lecturer was teaching us that evening in early 2011 at the University of Nairobi where I had enrolled for a degree in Political Science, History, Economics & Public Administration, I vividly remember getting hooked to an Economics book that I read as the lecturer droned on with his lecture. I was particularly touched by a speech delivered by a former King of Nepal which was in the introductory pages of the Economics book that I have long since misplaced.

Even though I am a bit crestfallen to have misplaced the book, I am glad that I now have with me a copy of the speech by the former King of Nepal which I typed and posted in the blog that I withdrew from the internet for copyright infringement. So I beg to reproduce the thought-provoking speech which reads as follows:
"A poor man in Third-World nations - and his number runs into millions - suffers from poor nutrition. He is vulnerable to disease. His average life span is short. He lives in huts where squalor perpetually surrounds him. He is illiterate both in letter and skills. He does not get his meals regularly, but when he does, he is haunted with the fear of where his next meal will come from.

He is clad in rags, if at all. He walks without a pair of shoes. Lack of hygiene, minimal food or contagious diseases have inflicted some scars on his body. He lives mostly in villages - remote and inaccessible to the rest of the world - or in shanty towns. The water he drinks is neither safe nor clean. He is either unemployed or underemployed. But when he is employed, he is overworked or underpaid.

He suffers from apathy and ignominy. From birth to death, he remains a destitute. Usually he dies an infant, but if he does survive, dearth and want haunt him to his end. Flood, famine, drought and other natural disasters continually plague him.

If he is a villager, he may be landless; if he is a town-dweller, he rarely has a roof over his head. When the price goes up, the quality and quantity of his food goes down because his income can no longer buy him the food he needs. His wife if she is pregnant can only have a worse fate.

He cannot buy books for his children nor pay fees for the school, let alone the toolbox he would love to buy for them to make their ends meet. When he falls ill, he cannot pay fees to a doctor, nor can he buy the medicine for himself let alone getting better amenities of life on these crises.

He can neither read nor afford to buy a newspaper. A radio-transistor is a luxury to him. Many of his kin never see a bicycle. Starvation and death stare him at his face as in Medieval times. Indeed, for him, times have not changed since the Dark Ages.

And as though these afflictions were not enough, it is he - and this is the greatest irony of all - who gives birth to the largest number of children, thus spreading and multiplying misery to a dark universe of destitution. When death comes to him finally, he seems happier than those he has left behind him." [1]
I have found myself reading that speech again and again which has led me to realize how blessed I have been to have parents who have shielded me from poverty. So I confess for having hated my parents at times when they were too harsh on me like when I threatened to leave home if they failed to give me fare for travelling to Nairobi. How foolish I was!

Not only have I resolved to appreciate my parents for shielding me from poverty but also decided to charge for my services even for such mundane tasks as teaching someone how to navigate through an Android smart-phone so that I can become a wealthy self-reliant gentleman. And hopefully, I will have a prosperous 2017. So help me God.

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[1] If you know the exact title, author and publisher of the Economics book from which I extracted this speech, please let me know so that I can acknowledge it as the source of the speech and link my audience to the Amazon page from where they can purchase the book.

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