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.

1974 -


1 comment:

  1. Well, you've done it again. Wonderful blog post. We love you too and I personally look forward to taking a tusker or two next time i'm in Nairobary. Keep writing anko, keep writing!