On Losing - Reflections of a Young Man™

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On Losing

It has in recent months dawned on me that life is not all about gaining and winning. Sometimes we lose - something professional footballers know very well. Like Ronaldinho was part of the legendary Brazilian team that won the '02 FIFA World Cup. Four years later, he was part of the same team that lost to France in the quarter-finals of the '06 FIFA World Cup which Brazil was widely predicted to win.

I have also had my own fair share of losses on which I found myself reflecting about yesterday evening. Allow me to list them here.

First, I recently lost my friend Clement Langat who was killed in a road accident. He was a house-mate at Starehe Boys' Centre, five years my junior, who had in recent years forged himself into a good friend of mine with his positive comments about me and his inquiry last December on how I was fairing in life. He once commented on a Facebook post of mine, "This is Thuita J. Maina - a straight A student I used to admire at Starehe." It was a bit saddening to lose Clement this early in life.

Secondly, I lost most of my stories that I used to write in my old website I used to call Polly after they got deleted by my web-hosting company after the website became inactive for several months. So I ended up losing more than 300 stories which I would have loved to re-read just to realize the kind of moron I was at the time I wrote them. Too bad to lose them.

Thirdly, I lost an album of mine I made from an exercise book during my first year at Starehe Boys'. It had such valuable photos as of me playing a piano duet with my friend Wilson Chira back in '02 when we were in Form 1, of me crawling on ropes during Starehe Boys' Survival Club camps back in the days, and of me giving public speeches at Starehe while still a first former. I really wanted to reconnect with those photos just to brighten up my life with beautiful memories but my efforts to trace the album were futile.

Fourthly, I have lost a number of books, magazines and newspapers that I would have loved to re-read. Some I lost in my carelessness. Others in theft. And others in mysterious circumstances. Like I lost a copy of the 2001 Daily Nation December newspaper that listed the top candidates in that year's KCPE exams which I would have loved to leaf through just for fun of realizing the kind of bright minds I was studying with at Starehe Boys'.

As I reflected on some of those losses yesterday evening, I felt my spirit grow weary with distress. But then I remembered a story I read in Jack Canfield's remarkable book, The Success Principles™, about a man who appeared serene even after he had his entire library and research files razed down by fire. On being asked why he appeared serene despite the heavy loss, the man replied, "What I have become is more valuable than what I have lost. The skills and self-confidence I gained in that library and research files are still inside me and can never be burned up in a fire."

To borrow a leaf from that wise man, I would also like to comfort myself that what I have become is more valuable than what I have lost in my life so far. I am now a wiser, braver and more grateful young man than I would have been without writing those stories I lost or interacting with such friends as the late Clement Langat. Alleluia!


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Benefits of Working in a Team

Shortly after I left Starehe Institute in April 2007, I landed a music teaching job at a piano school in downtown Nairobi owned by one Shemaiah Mwakodi, or Shem in short, who became a good friend of mine. He still remains a friend though he hasn't been replying to my Whatsapp texts of late.

I loved visiting Shem's music school back then just to be amidst quality pianos that he imported from Japan for sale here in Kenya. It was in one of those visits to the music school that I came across a Success Magazine which I pilfered by taking it home without Shem's permission. (Oh! I hope he will forgive me if he happens to read this story.)

While going through that wonderful magazine, I read an article that listed the benefits of working in a team. I was so captivated by the article that I cut out a section of the magazine page that listed those benefits and glued it to a page on an exercise book I christened "Dream Book".

Unfortunately, the Dream Book was later on chewed by a cow at home sometimes in 2010 after I left it on the compound where the cows were grazing. I mentioned that loss to my brother Simon who remarked wryly, "Maybe God wants you to change your dreams."

Me thinks that the cows chewed my Dream Book as God's way of punishing me for pilfering the Success Magazine from Shem and going ahead to cut out pages from it. I therefore nowadays no longer take somebody else's property without their permission. Neither do I cut out images and text sections from books and magazines. Oh! I almost forgot to mention that I also don't leave books outside there in the compound and fields after I am done reading them. So shouldn't you.

Anyway, since the cows chewed my Dream Book, I have no record of retrieving those benefits of working in a team as the magazine so magnificently outlined. I have therefore decided to jog my memory a little bit and see which benefits I can remember. Here's what I have come up with:
  • Working in a team helps us develop good sportsmanship skills
  • It hones our communication skills
  • It diminishes our fears
  • It improves our confidence
  • It helps us achieve our dreams faster
  • It improves our mental clarity
  • It helps us develop strong interpersonal skills
  • It improves our imagination
To be honest, I have never had an opportunity to work in a team all my life - something my friend Michael Njeru mentioned to me when I forwarded him my job-hunting CV a couple of years ago. But I still haven't given up on that dream of working in a team which I plan to achieve through music. You see, I have a talent in singing and piano-playing. And I have always desired to produce inspirational songs.

Those two dreams of working in a team and producing inspirational songs blend very well because producing hit songs involves working in a team of talented music producers. My prayer is that God connects me to such talented music producers as I continue honing my music skills.


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Honouring My Mother

From left in the photo above is my Dad, my brother Robert, me and my Mum on a tour to Mombasa, Kenya circa April 1999.

"Happiness will never come to those who don't appreciate what they already have," so said one wise-man. I therefore today choose to appreciate my mother for all that she has done for me.

First, she carried me in her womb for nine months. Then she endured 57 del (units) of pain on 31st December 1987 during my birth. It is said that those 57 del of pain are similar to 20 bones getting fractured at the same time.

I am thinking that had my mother been careless in her pregnancy and childbirth, I would have been born with such serious congenital diseases as cerebral palsy. But I thank God that as I write this story, I am as healthy as an angel and feeling as frisky as a lamb.

And then after I successfully emerged into this world from her womb on that last day of 1987, my mother was always there for me in the first two fragile years of my life. She had to breast-feed me whenever I cried and change my nappies whenever I wetted them. I must have disturbed her from her sleep and duties on numerous occasions.

When I grew old enough to feed and bathe myself, my mother was still there for me by ensuring I had decent clothes to wear. Day after day, I observed her wake up in the morning to go run her grocery in Kiserian Shopping Centre from where we got our daily bread.

And when I was in Standard 7, she went to Kunoni Educational Centre (a private primary school in my county) where she negotiated for me to be sponsored. I was eventually accepted as a sponsored pupil into the private school where I was taught by a team of dedicated teachers who made me to so excel in the 2001 KCPE exams that I was admitted into the prestigious Starehe Boys' Centre.

With a visible air of pride in me, my mother accompanied me to Starehe Boys' when I first reported to the school as a student on 17th January 2002. And for my next four years at Starehe, she visited me once in a while just to check on me.

After narrating all those details, I seem to have been blessed with a very responsible mother - but guess what? There was a time I despised her because I felt she was not educated and urbanized enough. Sometimes I thought my life would have turned out far better had she been more schooled.

It was in the midst of that mental fog of looking down on my mother that I ran away from home during my stints at two local universities. I caused my family a lot of pain and discomfort by running away from them, more so to my mother - something I have already repented and gotten over with, guilt-wise.

Today as I appreciate my mother, who is currently recovering from a stroke, for all that she has done for me - I pray that she may live long enough to see me walk down the aisle with my princess charming. I feel that's the best way of making her proud of me after all the pain I have caused her. So help me God.


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