Friday, 1 November 2013

If We Could Amend (Some Of) The 10 Commandments Like We Amend Constitutions

Let’s just put it out there: no one likes rules. No one likes to be told what they can and can’t do like they are some kind of... child or something, am I right? Unfortunately, the sad fact is that people are kind of douchebags when you allow them the freedom to do whatever they want. And by them, I mean you. And possibly me too. Possibly.

This is why society has some kind of checks and balances in the form of laws that are meant to ensure that we don’t behave like we were brought up by wolves, though to be fair, wolves are kind of a disciplined species and it is extremely unfair to imply otherwise. Cesar Millan, a Dog Whisperer (which apparently is a thing), said “Wolves are disciplined not only when they hunt but also when they travel, when they play, and when they eat. Nature doesn’t view discipline as a negative thing. Discipline is DNA. Discipline is survival.”

I kind of got sidetracked there for a bit, but I felt the need to set the record straight on the ability of wolves to raise huma – umm, ok. I can see how this could be a stupid argument to be making.

"We promise to eat... oops, NOT to eat your child."

So, back to human society and laws and stuff. People live in countries and countries have rules in the form of constitutions, written or unwritten, that govern the day to day interactions between its humans. However, from time to time, it becomes necessary to amend certain laws to adapt to changing circumstances. For instance, in the US state of Texas, it is a requirement for criminals to notify their victims of the nature of crime they intend to commit against them at least 24 hours in advance.

"I called you! And you do me like this? Who does that?"

Of course this ridiculous law has been repealed or suitably amended because, really? Ha, just kidding! It’s still totally in place, which is why I’ll be moving to Texas next year. Where they have liberal gun laws. And criminals call me to let me know they are coming. So I’m guessing that wasn’t such a good example of the point I was trying to make.

Seriously though, we do make changes to laws in our constitutions that for one reason or another do not appear to be working for the common good. So, I was just thinking, how is it that no one has ever thought to make suggestions for the amendment of The 10 Commandments? I know that’s kind of a tricky one considering that they came from God Himself and they were cast in stone(s) and they were given to Moses who totally smashed them – wait, what?

Doe... does that then mean that they are not actually valid? You know, seeing as they are no longer cast in stone and stuff? Sorry, but the commandments were written again on replacement tablets shortly thereafter because God plans ahead yo!

Nevertheless, if it were possible to have a sit down with God in front of a fireplace over some centuries old wine – you know, the one that Jesus made at that lameass wedding where the wine ran out before everyone was sufficiently hammered – I might have some suggestions for Him to consider. Obviously some of those commandments are by their very nature non negotiable, but others, I could try. Let’s have a look at them:

1.     “I am your God, your LORD. Do not worship any other god but the one true God.”
Non negotiable.

2.      “You shall not make idols or images in the form of God.”
Non negotiable. 

3.     “You shall not take the name of God in vain.”
Non negotiable.

4.     “You shall set aside the day of Sabbath to rest and worship the Lord.”
Non negotiable.

5.     “You shall honour your mother and your father by treating them with respect and obedience.”
Now, let’s get real here for a minute. Some of us are really shitty parents. I’m talking about mothers that neglect their offspring because they are inconvenient and they “cramp their style” or some stupid thing like that. Fathers that get up in the middle of the night to have carnal knowledge of their underage daughters (you might recognize that in civilized society as rape).

Could we please not have a blanket honour system for parents who in the 21st Century we would promptly throw in jail and throw away the key? Fathering a child or giving birth to one does not make one a parent. Or at least one that doesn’t suck. Raising a child to the best of one’s ability and managing not to scar them for life either physically or psychologically is the mark of a parent that truly deserves honour. The others can find their way to that other place. You know, the one that is not heaven.

6.     “You shall not kill.”
Hmm... I’m looking at a scenario where you live in a rough neighbourhood. You run a small business that hardly meets your basic needs. Also, you have a gazillion kids because apparently you think your wife is a baby making machine and you counter the argument for contraception with the shaking of your head, and a reasonable explanation that that shit costs money. Money you don’t have because it’s all going to putting food on the table. For those gazillion kids. And another one on the way. Oh, did I mention that you’re kind of an idiot?

This is what gazillion looks like. In case you were wondering.

Anyway, the boss of what passes for the local gang is getting because you’re behind in your payments for “protection”. You know that there is no way you’re making those payments because of said gazillion kids and their need to eat. Absolutely no way. So you let Al Capone in on this little fact, and he goes mental on you because he’s kind of a dick! He starts shouting things about how you think he’s a little pussy and that just to show you who’s boss, he’s going to straight up murder your stupid family on Thursday! You know he’s not bluffing because you know people who have turned up dead just for looking at him sideways!

Going to the cops just isn’t going to work because apparently he had the local OCPD shown who’s boss, if you catch my drift. So, in order to protect your family, you see no way out other than to kill this man. His life for those of your wife and kids. Sounds good to me.

7.     “You shall not commit adultery.”
Non negotiable.

Oh, wait. I’ll take that again. So, your wife is being kind of a bi – impossible because you absolutely refuse to allow her to bring the cat to the matrimonial bed at night when you’re going to sleep. Or not. Why she wants to do that is beyond me too. I don’t understand your wife. So because she has the mental age of a teenager, and teenagers are stupid, she starts using sex as a weapon against you. Or the withholding of it.

You are not allowing the godamn cat into your bed and she’s not putting out. Boom! Right there, you have a Mexican Standoff. In Mexico. If you live in Mexico. If you live elsewhere, then it’s just a Mexican Standoff. And I don’t know why I thought that would make sense.

Mexican Standoff. Presumably in Mexico.

Anyway, a year later, she’s still not sleeping with you and you’ve gotten tired of “taking matters into your own hands”, if you catch my meaning. So in your wisdom, you decide to take matters into your hands (without the air quotes) and get yourself a mpango wa kando to kunyihia utuku, which loosely translated from Kikuyu means to make the night tolerable. Sounds good to me.

8.     “You shall not steal.”
Non negotiable.

9.     “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.”
I had a moral conflict about this one because on the face of it, it is actually not cool to say incriminating shit about another person that isn’t true. I have a feeling that there is quite a bit of that going on in a little courtroom somewhere in... well, isn’t this happening a lot everywhere, really?

"We're actually here just for the scenery. True story."

Let me take you back to the analogy of the big bad boss of the local gang that wants to smoke your family. But now, instead of killing him dead because you’re probably not a good husband and father and wouldn’t kill another human being to protect your family (really? What kind of man wouldn’t do that? Shame on you!), you figure it might be best if you fixed him for the death of your neighbour. Yeah, the one who fell outside his house after drinking too much booze and hit his head on a rock!

So you go to the cops because apparently you forgot about the OCPD who was shown who’s boss, and you tell them that you saw Al Capone hit the poor bugger in the head with a rock. You can’t afford a TV, so you obviously don’t know how CSI works, though to be fair, neither do the local cops. The point is that you’re taking him down. Sounds good to me.

10.  “You shall not covet your neighbour’s property, nor desire his wife...”
Non negotiable.

This will get your ass killed. The end.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A Year Older, Hopefully Wiser (But Probably Not)…

Tomorrow, October 23, 2013, I turn 39.

That’s right. For those of you who had me figured for 29, just a year shy of 30, you were right to be impressed by my good genes. You’re not alone; I’m impressed too. Every day. It never gets old. I look in the mirror expecting to see some ageing, balding guy and it just never happens. I get surprised every time. Ok, I’m going to stop now because someone is whispering “narcissist” in my ear.

"Aah, CK, Stop it..."

39 going on 40.

It kind of has a nice ring to it. It means that I have finally grown up and it may be time to leave behind my childish ways (I don’t wanna!) and embrace maturity (I really don’t wanna!).

Seriously though, I always thought that it would feel old to be this age, but it doesn’t. I feel the same way I’ve always felt; young, vibrant, and full of hope for the future blah blah blah. The only thing I should mention is that it takes a little longer to heal from physical injuries. Yes, you young ones; you have that to look forward to!

I noticed this after a nasty fall in wet weather and I hurt my hand. Almost two months later, it still hurts something crazy whenever I use it for anything more strenuous than typing on a keyboard. I think I might have broken something or torn a ligament. Whatever man. My pride refuses to allow me to go in for an x-ray to find out what’s going on in there.

When I turned 30, I went through all the grieving stages similar to those one experiences upon the death of… something. Or someone (ok, maybe I’m reaching a little here). I had suddenly lost my youth and it wasn’t ever coming back, I thought. I felt a sense of profound loss of a decade of my life in which I had struggled to find myself, and I wasn’t sure that I had succeeded. I didn’t feel like I knew who I was, or what my place in the world might be. Finally, all those years of weed smoking in high school had caught up with me and scrambled my brains!

I went into complete freak out mode, or as the most eminent of psychologists would describe it, I completely lost my shit! 30 was the end of my life as I knew it, but lucky for me, I had the next decade to sort my shit out.

Have I succeeded? Have I redeemed myself? Have I found myself and my place in the world?

I must say that my thirties have probably been the best and the worst period of my life. Yes, I did finally figure myself out, and it has not been an easy journey. I have enjoyed success at the things I have done, but I’ve also gone through colossal failures. And every day I am grateful for the experiences of my life because they have defined the man that I am today, for better or for worse.

I am wiser now in the ways of the world, perhaps not because of my age, but mostly on account of the sum total of my experiences. There is a part of me that doesn’t feel 39. I feel 18 with 21 years of experience. I like that.

There are age mates of mine for whom wisdom is just… a word. Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself. – some dude called Tom Wilson.

I am grateful for the things and the people that God has brought my way. I don’t take anything for granted, and I know I’m probably saying this just because I happen to be in an introspective mood right now, but I really do try for the most part.

I’m in a business I enjoy, even though it hasn’t made me rich yet, but there’s time for that yet. I enjoy a cold Tusker every once in a while, sometimes every day, but I’m trying not to be labelled an alkie here! I love good music, and I’ve discovered in recent years that while I may not have a talent for music in the way that I might make a living off it, karaoke is just the thing to get me to unwind in the evening. I love that shit.

Belting out some cool tunes...

I come from a very interesting family that is spread out in Europe, the Middle East and here in Kenya. While we have had our share of drama, ups and downs just like any ordinary, healthy family, I wouldn’t trade this family for any other. And to my siblings, Mathew, Josephine, Wangeci, Carol, Karanja and Liz, I want to say I love you.

To my nephews and nieces, Larry, Alex, Peggy, Sheila (and your children), Jesse, Misheal, Njuguna and Waithira, I love you too. Angela, you will always be an important part of my life and I love you. Judy and Ian, you make the cutest mother and son pictures ever, and there’s plenty of love for you in this corner. Lena, Sverre, Rune, Ann-Kristin and my other European relatives, I am glad to know you. My parents don’t read my blog (good thing), so there.

All of you guys, I want you to know this, and I know you’re reading this post: you touch my life in ways that perhaps only I can express in my heart. You’re awesome!

I am blessed to have friends who are not trying to be dickish all the damn time. We’ve had some good times and some bad ones too. I have friends who have come with me from way back in high school where for a brief, crazy period, I was a drug courier. Yes, I used to stash weed inside the brown covers (do those still exist?) of my exercise books (yeah, call the drug police on me, you, one of my dickish friends, see if it’s not just hearsay at this point!). I’m not sure if I ever got caught; my high school years are kind of a haze... oh, and I fell madly in love with Grace, one of my classmates’ sister. She was older than me by four years and in college and oh man...

Sorry, I kind of lost my train of... something.

Yes, I have childhood friends who treat me more like a brother than anything else. I have made friendships in my adult life that have enriched my life in ways that are beyond words. I have also made friends who have almost led me down a path to the wrong side of the law, and for these I am grateful for the excitement. But I have learnt to cut them from my life, because until you’re seated in the inside of a police cell, you have no idea that freedom isn’t just an abstract concept.

Good place to do your thinking, but... no thanks!

I have never found it easy to make new friends, but it’s gotten easier as I grow older and more confident in who I am. I care about making a good impression, sure, because I wasn’t brought up by wolves. But I find that I care less about people’s impression of me; I figure that that’s more their problem than mine.

I do the best I can to maintain my side of the “contract” in friendships, but I’ve also grown more demanding of a higher standard in the level of expectation of how my friends should treat me. Someone said to me the other day that I don’t take shit, and I’m vocal about it. Well, I used to be very laid back at some point, so maybe I should try and find a balance because I don’t want to turn into my father (he’s a great shujaa, but no thanks!).

And to you who I am privileged to call my friends, you will forever occupy a special place in my heart.

I have to go back to Grace. She was my first love. She was also my first experience with unrequited love. I wrote poems for her on custom made cards. I begged her to be my girlfriend; I did everything that my teenage mind could think of (remember, teenagers are stupid) to make her mine. It didn’t work. She was a college girl and I was just a high school kid who couldn’t tell his asshole from a hole in the ground. In the end, she broke my heart.

I blamed her for a while after that for my inability to perform well in my final exam of high school. But in all fairness, it was probably the weed and other distractions. Also, school was boring. I did get over her, and we became really good friends for a few years before we lost touch.

I have loved women and they have loved me back. I have been loved by women whose love I could not return. I have loved women, like Grace, who for one reason or another, could never love me back. That is how love works. It is at once an exhilarating experience and a devastating one too. It can take you all the way to the heavens beyond the clouds, or crush your spirit until you just want to curl into a ball and cry like a little girl. Sometimes I think God looks down and enjoys the circus.

There is a woman in my life. She is not my girlfriend; perhaps she may never be. She is a really good friend for now, and I love her totally and completely. She likes me, but she’s not convinced that she and I should be together, perhaps because of my rapidly advancing age (heheh), or because of something else. We enjoy each other’s company. She’s funny, charming, and I think every day that that woman leaves her house, at least one man falls in love with her. She’s that kind of a girl. Everyone loves her. She recently sent me a text that read: Love is something we can’t completely explain in full length and we can’t choose who to love either. We also don’t always have to have those we love; sometimes it’s not meant to be. And that’s why it hurts, but with time we feel better.

Perhaps that was her way of letting me down easy. Then again, I’ve also found that as I grow older, I don’t walk away from situations as easily as I might have in my younger days. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I have no regrets about any of my relationships. Some were good, others were simply mistakes. Nevertheless, each one had a lesson therein, and if they didn’t make me a better man, then perhaps I’m just a poor learner and I can’t be helped.

My relationship with God has always been one of mutual tolerance, at least in my mind. I was brought up in the Catholic Church, and I always found the church to be full of rituals that I found to be boring and unnecessary, and little else. So the first chance I got after I officially became “emancipated” from my parents upon reaching the age of eighteen, I quit church and I never looked back.

And it has been that way for twenty odd years, me praying whenever I needed something handled by God and promptly moving on with my life, and thinking that God couldn’t really be bothered with little ol’ me out of a population of over 7 billion human beings at the last count (read that number again and let it sink in. Let it simmer, and then weep at how insignificant you really are in the larger scheme of things. Ha! Just kidding! Of course you’re important)

I have however, in the recent past, felt a gnawing need to know and understand who God really is, and what His role in my life (His life, really) might be. I have friends and relatives who are very staunch Christians, and to them I have opened my ears. I have listened to them and I have heard. And I have developed an interest in improving my relationship with Him.

I have started attending church, though I have not been very good at maintaining the momentum. I’ve also joined a group under the banner of MIZIZI, an initiative of Mavuno Church in Nairobi, also adopted by Nairobi Chapel that seeks to plant roots in one’s faith, and in their relationship with God. I will write about that at a later date. Oh yeah, I need to shout out to my new friends at Plug In. That’s right, you know who you are, and is awesome your middle name or what?

As I grow older, and I know I keep using this phrase, I find that I’m more introspective, more inward looking. And I’m now questioning what my real purpose on this earth is. I had never believed that God made each one of us for a very specific reason. And I now find that perhaps I was wrong. I am special. God took time to make me, and he made me extremely well, and it is unfathomable that He would do that just so I could fill up space on this earth. I reject that notion. Therefore, I’m in the process of seeking God and reconnecting with Him so that I may find His purpose for me in this world. I am a Christian.

Next month, I plan to do something I have never contemplated doing. I’m seriously terrified of heights, and just to illustrate to you just how bad it is for me, if I were a woman, I’d never wear six inch heels! But I’m going to drive up to Sagana, climb up a 60 foot tower, get strapped into a harness and dive down towards the Tana River. Yes, I’m going bungee jumping bitches! New experiences are what I’ll be all about in the next phase of my life.

As I enter the final year of my thirties, I am grateful that I have lived a good life. I have had spectacular failures, but I have also had splendid successes. And if God doesn’t take me in my 39th year, like he took great men like Tom Mboya and Martin Luther King Junior, I know that my forties shall be the best decade of my life yet. I know better now, and I am hopefully wiser too.

I am happy to be alive right now.

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