Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ruminations: Knowing You Have Lived

This afternoon, I attended the burial of a man who taught me in various upper primary school classes back in the 90s. He passed on late last week ( Saturday, August 10, 2013).
In my adulthood, I met and spoke with him only once, but my interactions with him have had an enduring impact in my life.
Today's post on The Walkabout is in Mr. Geoffrey Ndungu's memory.

"I'll tell you something,
It's not hard to die when you know you have lived, and I did.
Oh, how I lived."
- Edie Britt (Desperate Housewives s05e19)

The above words from Desperate Housewives opened this post about Living in 2010.

Eli Scruggs

First off, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy and LOST remain my top favorite TV Shows, thanks to the thought-provoking life issues they are predicated on and consequently address.

The reason I mention Eli is that life is inundated with people in our lives who in retrospect, shape our opinions and change our perceptions. This they often do unwittingly, while going about their business and carrying out their duties.

Eli is a man who the Desperate Housewives audience meets only once, but we learn how deeply he affected the lives of Wysteria Lane residents.

Looking Back

When I was in Primary School, many of us thought that Mr Ndungu was fussy and unnecessarily strict. In adulthood however, one realizes that this was necessary to instill discipline and a culture of hard work in our young lives.

Through him, I learnt that hard work actually pays. At one point, it literally paid since he gave me a cash reward for getting an A in Maths (KCPE), the subject he taught us. I recall his good knowledge of the Bible, especially the book of Proverbs because every now and then, he would quote from it to emphasize many of his points.

He passionately hated those who steal or otherwise reap what others have sown. He repeatedly extolled the value of hard work, and has continually exuded it in his life.
The biggest lesson I have learnt from his life is that one has to be principled, and actually take personal responsibility. Most importantly, having the confidence to follow my heart, even when it leads me off the well worn path. I'm therefore able to effortlessly look well to each and every day.

The only time I met him while not his student is one evening after sunset at a fuelling station in Zambezi. The PSV I was in has developed mechanical problems and we were effectively stranded. As he fueled his car, Mr Ndungu recognized me and beckoned. Following pleasantries, he offered me a lift and on the way home, we discussed many things.

It was during the sunset years of the KANU government and his advise was that gone are the times when the government was dependable. It was now necessary, he said, for every person to actually get things done if any goals are to be achieved. He reminded me that as a young, educated and highly intelligent person, I have all the advantages that accorded me a head-start towards success.

On success however, he told me money was not everything, and many who have engaged in a mindless rush towards riches have only ended up frustrated, since greed for material things makes people miss out on the more important stuff in life.

He also told me that I need to always focus and not compare myself with others, since every person's life journey is as unique as that person. I remember the last thing he said as I reached my destination was that I should focus and not waste my life living another person's life. He finally wished me well in my studies, as I was then in campus.
Thanks to him and other men of his ilk, I have never let the noise of other people's opinions drown my inner voice.


In his commencement address at Stanford University, Steve Jobs spoke of death as a common destination for us all. It is life's change agent, re reckoned.

Watch the above video and take notice of the three life stories that in Steve's opinion, characterize a life well lived viz:
  • Connecting the Dots
  • Love and Loss
  • Death

R.I.P. Mr Geoffrey Ndungu Kanini.
I've no doubt that yours was a life well lived.


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