Friday, November 11, 2011

God's Mysterious Ways and Miracles

Earlier today, I went to say hello to my neighbor. She is an elderly lady, in her seventies. Her octogenarian husband recently passed on. Her name is Lucia, or Mama Kimani. The thing about her, besides being good-natured, is that she is remarkably hardworking.

As we talked on opposite sides of our farms' hedges, we both recalled how her right leg, that had grounded her for six months earlier this year, was recently miraculously cured. At the height of her pain, she could not leave her homestead, and had to painfully take a minimum of two breaks to cover a distance of just 100 metres.
Today, she walks for miles and moves around without a cane or any discomfort at all.

She remains eternally grateful to God, who miraculous healed her and cured that which doctors who handled the case often referred to as a mysterious disease with an elusive cause.

Mysterious Ways

Back in January 31, 2009, I wrote a Facebook Note titled "God Works in Mysterious Ways. And Miracles Do Happen."
It was singularly based on one of the tracks in the 'Prince of Peace' compilation gospel album featuring various celebrated artists. To date, it is my favorite gospel album.

'Prince of Peace' features great music by these accomplished artists: 4 Him, Carmen, Kim Hill, Kathy Troccoli, Carolyn Arends, Larnelle Harris, Michael W. Smith, Clay Crosse, Brent Bourgeois, Dallas Holm, Gary Chapman, Michael Card, Twila Paris, Glad, Kim Boyce, Wayne Watson and Wes King.

God Works in mysterious ways, no doubt. The song 'Mysterious Ways' by Kim Hill is an inspired and conscious reminder of that undeniable fact.
And a very relevant one, in view of what we keep witnessing in our lives.

Following are the lyrics to the song 'Mysterious Ways'.
Living in this game of chance

Driven by the wheels of circumstance

while at the hand of mercy

Balanced on a changing scale

How can life be strong and yet so frail

what is the deeper meaning?

In my feeble mind I try to find the reason

who knows why it's hard to say

God works in mysterious ways

Never show just what lies waiting round the corner

Feeling through this haunting maze

God works in mysterious ways

God works in mysterious ways

Knowing there's a greater plan

Believing still is hard to understand (I don't understand)

Uncertain things before me (I dont understand)

Dealing with the less I know

Learning that His ways are not my own

But still I keep believing

Making sense of consequences hard to fathom

Looking through this holy haze

God works in mysterious ways

Black and white could surely clear this clouded vision

But I live in a world of grace

God works in mysterious ways

God works in mysterious ways

Questions fall like showers of endless rain

Into oceans of the unexplained

Someday it all will be made known...

Freak Accident

A week ago, I was joined by my dear friend in a courtesy call for a most lovely, mutual friend, who is at home recuperating from injuries sustained during an accident that happened in early August, that saw her spend three months in a hospital bed.

Now at home, Lauryn Njoroge is still trying to understand how she survived such an accident, why it happened to her, and most important, acknowledging that it all happened for a reason.

She has emerged stronger at the broken places, and is now a changed person. A totally new person, to put it in her own words. Her story has already been documented in the current edition of Parents magazine. She is also currently putting into writing, all her experiences for the world to learn, be inspired and realize just how mysterious God's ways are. That miracles continue to happen each and every day.

This post is dedicated to Lauryn.
My dear, you continue to show remarkable strength and will power all through your recovery. Your best days are ahead of you.

I continue to wish you a speedy recovery, in the firm belief that you are headed for great things. It is in our weakness that we become strong. You are now almost ready for the awesome plans that God has for you and all those your life will continue to touch.

Cheers L.

Finally, should anyone reading this ever go through an immensely difficult time where you can only ask "Why?", just praise His Name. Thanks to the wonderful gift of time, you'll eventually find out the reason why.

The thing is, God works in mysterious ways. And miracles do happen. Period.
That is my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Wonderful Effect of Time

Taking Time to React
After Mwai Kibaki became the third President of Kenya in December 2002, I couldn't help but notice just how different his leadership style was from former President Moi's. Kibaki let his ministers actually guide policy and manage their ministries, he stayed away from the public spotlight and best of all, he took time to react to issues. In delegating and letting those under him be, President Mwai Kibaki was diametrically the opposite of a micro-manager like Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

While these attributes may come across as being stand-offish and indifferent, even bordering on negligence, there is much to learn from especially the third one, thanks to the keyword TIME.

You see, I realized in early 2003 that if the President of an independent republic would be patient and tolerant enough to take time before reacting to every thing that he had a say in, then there must be something worthwhile in the wait.

As we grew up, we were all taught  and constantly reminded to breathe in and count to ten whenever someone pissed us off, to never speak or act in anger, and that patience pays. Let us look at the wonderful effect of time in our lives.

Time is a gift
One of my favorite bloggers reckons that time is a gift. And I agree. She says,
Our Saviour has granted us a lot of gifts and one of the best is time. There are things that you go through in life: some good, some bad but what they both have is common is time.
Time does have this effect in life that we can barely understand. The passage of time changes attitudes and perceptions, makes pain go away, allows us to understand and appreciate what we couldn't before... time changes everything. In fact, we all know that time heals wounds. Inasmuch as scars may remain to constantly remind us what exactly happened, the passage of time will heal both emotional, psychological and physical wounds.

Time, and lessons learnt
Looking back, I remember some things I have said or written at a time of crisis, only to regret it after some time. Lately, I have however harnessed the wisdom of waiting it out, and saying or doing nothing no matter how much I'm tempted to react. It takes a great deal of determination to NOT DO something when you really feel that you have a right to say or do something in return.

With time, you cool down and even more interestingly, you begin to look at the same situation you were aching to react to in an entirely different way. This is the time when you realize that it was wise to not react too quickly, you have nothing to regret and should you act now, it will only be because it is necessary and you are now much wiser to handle the consequences of your actions.

Think about instances in your life when you had to resist the near-overwhelming urge to react to something. How did you manage to hold on and deal with the situation much later? Was the decision to wait a wise one? Has this made you better placed to deal with future situations and decisions that demand patience and tolerance.

Do you currently have very strong feelings of dissent about someone or something? Do you feel wronged and offended? Are you considering giving as good as you got and avenging yourself?
Well, take time and hold out. Give yourself a definite time to wait until you can deal with the situation or the person. It will surprise you how different your feelings and attitude will change after the waiting period.

Don't eat the marshmallow, yet.
In other news, success is also heavily hinged on our ability to wait. In his famous and engaging 2009 TED Talk, Joachim de Posada still reminds you to not eat the marshmallow... yet.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Making Value Judgments

I have always wondered why it's never a big issue to buy someone beer or lunch worth thousands of shillings, but nearly impossible to just give him/her that exact amount in cash for no consideration at all. In fact, lending him/her that same amount as a repayable loan is rarely done so willingly.

In my thinking, the reason is partly because of the value we attach to some gestures. Giving away cash, even to a friend is in our minds not the same as buying the friend lunch, beer, a gift or any other act where you end up spending the same amount.
In other words, our judgment of value is not exactly rational.

In 2005, Dan Gilbert gave a talk at TED, where he explored our mistaken expectations. Check it out below:

In light of the above, how exactly do you make value judgments?

Have a great day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

Hello November :)

Punctuality is the politeness of princes, goes the adage.

I was recently discussing gratitude with one of my best friends. She had, at some point in July this year, pointed out how I seemed so grateful about nearly everything in life. Even those seemingly insignificant small things.
At the time, I felt really flattered and purposed to be even more grateful.

The good books says,

Let the giving of thanks be your sacrifice to God, and give to the almighty all that you promised.
- Psalm 50:14

Looking back, I realize that I am where I am today because countless other people have made it possible. Even more profound, most of what they did and continue to do isn't necessarily what they had to do. In other words, they simply go the extra mile for me when they don't have to.

In my own life, I have come to realize that a willingness to help someone who may either never recognize or even acknowledge your assistance is a noble, albeit rare character trait. In fact, it demands more to help such people than to help those who may not be in a position to pay back or return the favor.

And this becomes a key pillar of what I seek to adopt and nurture in my life. Being altruistic essentially takes a genuine intention to make others' lives better, it demands that one consider others before his/her self.
Have you recently done something kind for someone who may never know that you did it, who may actually not appreciate nor requite it? Do you help strangers? How did it feel? Are you still proud that you assisted or do you regret it?

Back to our polite princes, they are not duty bound to be punctual. They can do as they wish. But princes who respect the value of time both to themselves and to those who wait for them are indeed worth their royal standing. Punctuality is the politeness of princes.

Finally, kindness and the ensuing gratitude are never in vain. Here's the reason why:

Have a blessed month.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Reprimanding Loved Ones

Love is a #$%^&%*...

Back in the day, I was watching the movie Old School and heard these words by a waiter, words that would ordinarily be ignored, or worse, be taken in bad taste.
Well, the movie starts with Mitch speaking about how hard it is to find true love. This is further emphasized when he gets back home earlier than expected, only to discover that his girlfriend Heidi is being blatantly unfaithful...

That aside, I have often been surprised, in fact infuriated, by how people who are supposedly close and in love treat each other. That intolerance, the irritating habit of blowing things out of proportion and throwing tantrums as if either of the parties is eagerly waiting for the other to make a small mistake... that is what largely kept me away from relationships in my younger years. In fact, I nowadays keep these pretentious liaisons at bay because of many reasons, this one being a prime reason.

So what makes people behave this way?

It so happens that when people get really close, they somewhat idolize each other. There is the illusion that the significant other is such a good person, you stop seeing their human imperfections and imagine that they cannot go wrong. You see everything by and about them as prefect and therefore invariably right.

With time however, reality checks in and mistakes and defects of character start manifesting themselves. As Stephen King put it,
once the tale of encounter and discovery is told, kisses quickly grow stale and caresses tiresome…
This unfortunately is the time when people continually misunderstand each other, words and deeds are misinterpreted and quarrels become the order of the day.

How to Deal With This

The easiest solution is to simply understand that even those close to us are still human and are therefore not immune to every-day screw-ups in life. They are not perfect, they make mistakes and the reason we are together is so that we can add value in each others life, thereby becoming better persons.

If the love and affection that brings two people together is genuine, these two people need to be accommodating, lenient and immensely understanding. Solutions should be sought using meaningful and mature dialogue.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Always Rise Again and Move On

The only thing worth trying when all else has failed... is again.

This is a short post, featuring words that are not from my mind, but words that a essential for a healthy mind.
These words are so profound, that I see no need to add anything to them.

Check out the following videos:

Still I Rise by Yolanda Adams

Move On by Abba

Have a great day guys

Monday, August 22, 2011

Take Initiative. Seize the Day

Four Film Favorites: Final Destination Collection (Final Destination / Final Destination 2 / Final Destination 3 / The Final Destination)This weekend, I was on Twitter and chanced upon this Saw or Final Destination trending topic. Well, I am a great fan of this film genre. The Saw franchise is a particular favorite largely because there's some thought provoking quotes therein.

Speaking of Saw, I am reminded of something that resonates very well with something I've been thinking about lately, in regard with some things I should be, but I'm not doing, in my life.
In Saw III, the ailing Jigsaw says the following:
Despite having all the advantages, many of us still choose not to advance.

That said, I realize just how intelligent, blessed, and fully equipped I already am. But things won't just happen. Good intentions, just like potential, are just that. Until and unless someone gets something done, things will inevitably stay the way they currently are. In effect, things will generally tend towards disorder as espoused by the law of entropy.

How to Win in the Coming Jua Kali Boom is one of the best books I've ever read. The author's note that introduces the book clearly states that "status, wealth or attainment are the result of endeavor and not natural endowment." This in other words, reinforces the fact that there is need to get doing things for progress to be realized.

The final chapter of this same book, aptly titled Results, is totally succinct but the author still takes time to reiterate that only action begets results. He says
Dream as you will, plan and analyze. But while you dream, remember that only action leads to results. Cleverness and strength that does not result in action, knowledge that does not lead to better methods is dead stock.

Action always begets results... Results are your only reality.

Finally, Carolyn Arends reminds us that life continues to slip away just like hour-glass sand. For that reason, we need to seize the day. Otherwise, we may end up like the following miserable man.

I know a man who’s been doing some thinking
He’s as bitter and cold as the whiskey he’s drinking
He’s talking ‘bout fear, about chances not taken
If you listen to him you can hear his heart breaking
He says, “One day you’re a boy and the next day you’re dead
I wish way back when someone had said…

…Seize the day – seize whatever you can
‘Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand
Seize the day – pray for grace from God’s hand
Then nothing will stand in your way
Seize the day

Friday, August 5, 2011

I'm a Human Being. Period.

I'm this, not that.
I've always wondered why we need to keep trying to belong to this and not that. We try so hard to establish a difference, proclaim it and whenever possible, exploit our position of advantage to the detriment of those who do not belong.

Here's an example in my case:
I'm a human being, not an animal.
I'm a man, not a woman.
I'm an African, not Caucasian, Asian or any other race.
I'm a Kenyan, not just an African in other fifty-something countries.
I'm Kikuyu, do not belong to other Kenyan tribes which exceed forty...

... and the list goes on and on.

Beyond Difference

When I recently mentioned Karen Armstrong's TED wish that called for the formation of a Charter for Compassion, the overriding mission of that carter is [in part]

transcends religious, ideological, and national difference. Supported by leading thinkers from many traditions, the Charter activates the Golden Rule around the world.

That said, it still defeats me why we totally love to glorify our difference from, and perceived advantages over, other people. In fact, some of the worst atrocities in human history were carried out on the premise that other were different. For example, the crusades were against anyone and everyone who didn't subscribe to the faith. The Holocaust was predicated on the superiority of the Aryan race, and therefore considered other races, especially the Jewish race as unworthy of life.

Admittedly, it is important to belong to something because that way, we can find common purpose with those who are like-minded like ourselves.
Without opposing teams, there would be no competition. The same is unfortunately the reason many wars are fought.

In his 2008 TED Talk, Jonathan Haidt emphasized that every human being inherently think s/he is right.

We possess "righteous minds" which ultimately
- unite us into teams
- divide us against other teams
- blind us to the truth

That is the main reason we are seldom objective even in matters where we have no direct interest.

Just Being Human

Can we simply remain human beings? It is my humble opinion that when we only see others as other human beings who are in no way less deserving that ourselves, we can respect others and see that which is good in them.

In 2006, Alexander Nderitu penned The Golden Man, a poem that continually reminds me that it is indeed possible to transcend racial, religious, geographical and other difference... to simply see humanity as one...
...the Golden Man is without colour;
He knows that racism is ignorance and doesn’t bother
With petty prejudices, seeing humanity as one.

Are all these divisions necessary?
Kindly share your thoughts.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What Really Makes You Tick?

This is a quick post, but I hope a profound one.
The Walkabout is a place where we learn and share, and having come across the following thought-provoking document on Issuu, I deem it wise to share with you.

It contains 10 questions that you should ask yourself, in preparation for self improvement.
Check it out!

A snapshot of the document contents:
  1. What do I really want?
  2. Should I really change?
  3. What's the bright side of all this?
  4. Am I comfortable with what I'm doing?
  5. Have I done enough for myself?
  6. Am I happy at where I am today?
  7. Am I appealing to the opposite sex?
  8. How much could I have?
  9. What motivates me?
  10. What really makes me tick? 

It is my hope that you like it. If so, then be sure to share the link with your friends or embed the document on your site as well.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Time to Think Again

Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal LifeSlightly over two years ago, I wrote this post on The Walkabout, about a most profound book. Aptly titled  Critical Thinking: Tools For Taking Charge Of Your Professional And Personal Life, the book is all about our thoughts, especially how they affect our development and ultimately, the quality of our lives. It then behooves us to channel and leverage our thinking such that we are in charge of our lives.

At the time, I even gave a few copies free to some of our readers.

This book is one of those you keep getting back to read, if only to refresh whatever you have so far gained from it. In this regard, it is worth noting that there is something new to gain every time I take another look at it's priceless insights.

You are What You Think
That's what the good people at say in introducing this book.
Everything you do in life is determined by the quality of your thinking. If you aren't thinking clearly, you're at the mercy of everyone else-from dishonest politicians to aggressive, stop-at-nothing ad agencies. Unfortunately, many people never give any thought to how they think. No wonder they're susceptible to the frustration, pain, ineffectiveness, and financial loss that result directly from poorly considered thinking. Critical Thinking is about becoming a better thinker in every aspect of your life-as a professional, as a consumer, citizen, friend, parent, and even as a lover.

Following is a snapshot of what you'll find inside this awesome book:

Acknowledgment Preface
Ch. 1:    Thinking in a World of Accelerating Change and Intensifying Danger
Ch. 2:    Becoming a Critic of Your Thinking
Ch. 3:    Becoming a Fair-Minded Thinker
Ch. 4:    Self-Understanding
Ch. 5:    The First Four Stages of Development: What Level Thinker are You?
Ch. 6:    The Parts of Thinking
Ch. 7:    The Standards for Thinking
Ch. 8:    Design Your Life
Ch. 9:    The Art of Making Intelligent Decisions
Ch. 10: Taking Charge of Your Irrational Tendencies
Ch. 11:  Monitoring Your Sociocentric Tendencies
Ch. 12:  Developing as an Ethical Reasoner
Ch. 13:  Analyzing and Evaluating Thinking in Corporate and Organizational Life
Ch. 14:  The Power and Limits of Professional Knowledge (And of the Disciplines that Underlie Them)
Ch. 15:  Strategic Thinking Part One
Ch. 16:  Strategic Thinking Part Two
Glossary: A Guide to Critical Thinking Terms and Concepts References

The Challenge
What kind of a thinker are you?
In writing Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life, Richard W. Paul and Linda Elder detail the six stages of thinking. These are:

  • Stage 1 The Unreflective Thinker (we are unaware of significant problems in our thinking)
  • Stage 2 The Challenged Thinker (we become aware of problems in our thinking)
  • Stage 3 The Beginning Thinker (we try to improve, but without regular practice)
  • Stage 4 The Practicing Thinker (we recognize the necessity of regular practice)
  • Stage 5 The Advanced Thinker (we advance in accordance with our practice)
  • Stage 6 The Master Thinker (skilled and insightful thinking becomes second nature)

I very strongly recommend that you get a copy of this book. "Why?" you ask. My answer: You are what you think. It is the quality of your thinking that determines all else.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Art of Giving

This post is a corollary to a recent post on The Walkabout, that urged all Kenyans and other people of goodwill to act now and help in feeding Kenyans who are dying of hunger and drought related ailments.

Thankfully, people had generously contributed and on Sunday, the Nation reported that the first food consignment was headed to Turkana. This will feed some 20,000 people who are in desperate need.
Thanks to all who came to their aid, we need to continue helping those who are in need even as we seek long term solutions to this recurrent problem.

Should you be wondering why we are repeatedly urging you to help, the following photos might hopefully give a better reason:

In addition, I came across the following document about ICT professionals who hold demanding jobs but still  find the time to engage in volunteer work.

All the best in all you do this week.
Be blessed.

Monday, August 1, 2011

CAMPUS: Memories and Life Lessons

This Walkabout post appears as a guest post on the ever interesting Tales from Graduate School by SavvyKenya.

Campus Memoirs

Savvy is more than an awesome tweep, she invariably reminds me of a place where I spent slightly over five years [thanks to a lecturers' strike during our sunset days]. A place where I got much more than a Bachelor's degree. A place that ultimately got me ready for whatever life throws my way.

I remember the good old days when some guys, suddenly overwhelmed by unfettered college freedom, would spend vast amounts of time getting drunk, getting healthy [taking drugs] and getting laid... but would still work hard and pass exams.

Six, Sex

I first experienced a University students strike barely a month after joining campus.................

Now go right ahead and read the entire post on SavvyKenya's blog.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

R.I.P. Grandma

"Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see." 

Transition Elevation

On Thursday, July 21 at 1830hrs, my grandma passed on.
She lived for almost a century, and what a life it was! I do thank God that she died of old age, not disease or any other agonizing and painful condition.
We laid her to rest yesterday.

I won't eulogize her on this blog, but will just share Mary Elizabeth Frye's Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep poem and some photos of her resting place.
This poem is featured in Desperate Housewives s04ep10, where Karen McCluskey and Lynette Scavo scatter Ida Greenberg's ashes on a baseball field.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush.
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.


Fare thee well grandma. God be with you till we meet again [lyrics].

More pics



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Act Now. Let's Feed Fellow Kenyans

Transcending Religious, Ideological, and National difference 
When Karen Armstrong won the 2008 TED Prize, she made a wish: she sought help in creating, launching and propagating a Charter for Compassion.

Here's Karen at TED making her wish:

Following is the Charter for Compassion video on YouTube.

You can watch other TED videos on compassion here.

Beyond Compassion 
In view of the foregoing, it is incumbent upon us all to help fellow Kenyans who are dying of starvation.

At a time when the situation is already desperate for the unfortunate ones who have nothing to eat, we need to be more than compassionate. We need to act.
Thanks to the Kenya Red Cross, Ahmed Salim, and the rest of us who can at least spare a meal to feed another starving human being, we shall collectively save lives. Thereafter, we can tell these people about feeding themselves.

Following is Ahmed Salim's message, as published by Jacque on Wamathai's blog:

Jambo Kenya,

I woke up this morning with this guilt that we are ONE Nation and ONE people who would like to stand and speak ONE language of PEACE LOVE AND UNITY.

How can this happen when our own people in this country are suffering????

I do take up the initiative to have at least KENYANS ON TWITTER show their support and love by Sacrificing A Meal to help someone somewhere in this country.

My Target is to Have 10,000 KENYANS raise at least 250/= each and thus 2.5 Million shillings to FEED KENYA.

With the help of Kenya Red Cross - you can send your donations via MPESA

PAY BILL - 10,000


AMOUNT - (minimum 250/=)

AND you will have sacrificed a meal to Feed Kenya – Lets do this Kenya.

My Name is Ahmed Salim and I am A Kenyan @ahmedsalims

TUKO PAMOJA!!!! #SacrificeAMeal

You can now donate via Airtel Money, pay to nickname “REDCROSS” reference “FeedKE


Guys, let's do the needful. There is a reason why you and I are not the starving ones at this moment.
Join us and help feed our starving brothers and sisters with this #FeedKE initiative.

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Find What's Lost. Stop Looking.

Yesterday, I was on phone with someone amazing. We got talking about many things, and at some point during that conversation, I thought about the satisfaction of finding what has all along been lost.

There's this post about chasing happiness where we concluded that it's more important to get on with life, doing what is required of us, and purposing to add value both in our lives and those of others instead of engaging in an elusive pursuit of "happiness".

Worthless Pursuits
Otherwise, we may end up like dogs chasing their tails...

However, it is interesting to note that many, if not all things, are found only when we stop looking.

Happiness, Satisfaction & Fulfillment
In this priceless Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness document that I keep referencing in my posts, we are urged to
abandon a foolish quest for the ephemeral rewards of happiness, wealth and power, [and thereby] begin to look for our true calling on earth...
Furthermore, there is a very clear difference between happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment. Happiness may be transient, satisfaction may be seasonal, but fulfillment is enduring.

Stop Looking 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poems and Other Writings (Library of America)An understanding of what can and does get found when we stop looking invariably obviates the need to actively seek short-time pleasures that ultimately cost us in the long run.

We need to reorder our priorities, delay gratification, set long term objectives and engage in worthwhile, enduring pursuits that will end in fulfillment.
Regardless of how long it may take, we finally find whatever we seek. Sometimes, in other people... as Longfellow did:
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, July 18, 2011

Righting Wrongs and Taking A Different Road

Late last year, I fell out with both a close friend and neighbor. Looking back, whatever occasioned our disagreement in such an intense manner now looks trivial, even shameful.

This month, we reconciled and as of yesterday, we are like the best of friends with a renewed friendship, lots of respect and selfless kindness. It is my hope that we infinitely remain that way.

Making Amends

In January 2009, I watched an episode of CSI where a guy lost his life after he tried to make amends. In the episode 'Killer' (CSI s6e14), Karl Cooper, upon his release from prison after serving seven years for robbery, kills the guy who ratted him out. Ironically, it is this victim who had actually contacted Karl, since he was '12 stepping'. An attempt to make amends sadly cost him his life.

Thinking about the aforementioned episode, I wrote a Facebook Note in February 2009, in which I explored the following two steps:

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Apparently, making amends can also be self harming, as Karl's victim came to find out.
With that in mind, I am usually torn between whether or not to make some amends that have been pending for a while... My excuse being that those who crafted step 9 forgot to include "injure us" as a result of seeking to make amends.

There are two very interesting things to making amends:
I. Whenever you make amends, a very big weight is lifted off your shoulders. While it's especially hard for some people to make amends, eating humble pie, stooping low and being bold enough to accept wrongs were committed and acknowledge the need for closure is all it takes. And it may surprise you that those you once wronged actually have no ill feelings at all.

II. It's worth noting that making amends may not always turn out well. Like our victim in CSI, those you once wronged may be quite unwilling to forgive and let go. Some may even see this as an opportunity to revenge and/or punish you. But take heart. The apostle Paul talks about maintaining a clear conscience. Once you do your part, God will handle the rest. "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" - Acts 24:16 (KJV).

My friends, I now urge you to go out and make amends. Remember that colleague you back-stabbed the other day? Or that guy you still owe money? What about that childhood friend you lost courtesy of a few careless words? And do you have any issues between you and God that are still unattended?
Take the bold step number 8. But be careful, and ensure your decision is informed by the (somewhat incomplete) insurance that step 9 accords you before you go making any amends.

All in all, purpose to secure a clear conscience before both God and men. That is what matters after all. Regardless of how it turns out.

A Different Road
Upon effecting such far reaching change in life,  it is necessary to ensure that offenses are not repeated. There must be a complete deviation in lifestyle, habits and anything else that led to the mistakes that needed to be corrected.

At this point, one needs to take a different road. For the simple reason that you might end up being too slow while attempting to run ahead.
Only then does sustained and meaningful change happen. When we humbly and sincerely right wrongs.


Friday, July 15, 2011

The Sixth Sense

My mind is all on the Tablet computer that I need to get myself before this year is over. It is without a doubt the ASUS eee Pad Transformer.

I have however seen demos of the awesomeness of the Tablet experience when Pranav Mistry demonstrated the interaction of our physical world with the digital world. This was already happenning in 2009, thanks to the MIT Media Lab.
Have a look at the following TED Talks:

Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology

Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demo SixthSense

What do you think of the above demos?

Have a lovely weekend good people.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Everything Happens for a Reason

Every once in a while, something happens in life that makes you question all logical arguments and reasoning to support it. You suddenly feel like you can somewhat understand whatever Job [in the Bible] felt while he endured all his suffering. Yet you question it all, wondering why it had to happen to you.

I have previously written several LOST inspired posts on this blog, which are invariably profound. Before proceeding, you may want to read the 'Everything Happens for a Reason' post, where we explored the meaning of destiny in terms of both fate and purpose.

Consider the following LOST video [from Exodus, the season 1 finale] and [part of] the dialogue that follows it:

JACK: Look, I need for you — I need for you to explain to me what the hell’s going on inside your head, John. I need to know why you believe that that thing wasn’t gonna-

LOCKE: I believe that I was being tested.

JACK: Tested?

LOCKE: Yeah, tested.

LOCKE: I think that’s why you and I don’t see eye-to-eye sometimes, Jack — because you’re a man of science.

JACK: Yeah, and what does that make you?

LOCKE: Me, well, I’m a man of faith. Do you really think all this is an accident — that we, a group of strangers survived, many of us with just superficial injuries? Do you think we crashed on this place by coincidence — especially, this place? We were brought here for a purpose, for a reason, all of us. Each one of us was brought here for a reason.

Can Lightning Strike Twice?
Many people contend that it cannot. I however beg to differ.

Writing this particular post is highly emotional for me, because it tells the story of a close friend who has undergone what I can only refer to as double jeopardy. Please note that I do not mean that dual jeopardy in law, which is in itself bad enough and therefore protected by Fifth Amendment Rights thanks to Miranda precedents.

It so happened that this friend successfully completed his University education in 2008 and got a good job, and proceeded to enroll for a Masters degree in a related field.
One day in 2009, he accompanied his friends for a hike at the Ngong Hills. At around 6pm, a group of his friends were attacked by muggers, and as he tried to help, his left eye was pierced with a dagger. He subsequently lost that eye.

The Second Hit
Just a few weeks ago, he and his dad were driving at night when spikes placed on the road resulted in a flat tire. Stopping to change it, the highway robbers responsible attacked them. This incident left both of them with head injuries, mostly superficial.
Unfortunately for my friend, his right eye was cut at the time and he has lost it as well. He is now physically blind, thanks to thugs who prefer to injure others in their attempt to reap where they do not bother to sow.

What to Do
I find it really hard to understand why he's had to lose his eyes when he needs them the most, why only his eyes sustained serious injury in both incidents, why this has happened in a space of only two years.... and so many other questions.
I however find solace in the knowledge that Hellen Keller was able to live in a silent, dark and lonely world since she could not see, hear or speak. All this has happened for a reason, and my friend will find his place in his new world. I believe that God will open his eyes to a means of perception quite unlike our own, which may even prove to be more beneficial for our friend.

The following TED Talk is proof enough that breakthroughs exist to unlock those who are locked in. I have no doubt that all is not lost for my friend.

In view of the foregoing, it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to realize that everything, whether good or otherwise, happens for a reason.
Even more important, whenever you feel like you're going through a lot in life, always know that others already have done so, and that makes you able to overcome your odds whatever they be and however unique you think they are.

Let's get working to facilitate the rediscovery of wonder. Everything is always impossible until someone does something about it. If not now, then when? And if not me, then who?
We currently have all our abilities for a reason. Do the needful in honoring that reason.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hospitality to Strangers

" Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
- The Bible, Hebrews 13:2 [KJV]

Not for Show 
Last year, I sat down one afternoon for a very informal chat with Kellie. Interestingly, that is the day I got myself an enduring reminder that good isn't good enough.
At one point, we discussed how in thanking God for His undeserved grace to us and fulfilling promises made to the Most High, we should render some selfless service to the less fortunate among us.

We both agreed that the best way to help the disadvantaged in society would be to identify a genuine case, liaise with those under whose care the boy or girl you'd like to sponsor is, and make your contribution quietly without fanfare, publicity and undue media attention.

Benevolent Strangers 
Thinking about Kellie's noble approach to assisting/sponsoring the less fortunate, I am invariably reminded of just how many people have lent a hand in the last three decades I've been alive. I acknowledge and duly appreciate those unseen faces whose money went into reducing, sometimes clearing my High school fees balances. This essentially obviated the need for me to be sent home every now and then.
Even for our tertiary education, Kenyan taxpayers collectively contributed to enable us secure HELB loans. 

Beyond school,  I am fully cognizant of those who have shared their knowledge in books, and online published material so that others can learn. Think about those who collectively build free and open source software. Think about those who anonymously contribute to research institutions and foundations that 
And let us not forget the freedom fighters and genuine activists who sacrifice their time, resources... even lives so that others after them can be free. 

Nameless Friends
Early this week, Njunii and I sought a better understanding of a confusing term: biweekly. It can mean both a semi-weekly or a fortnightly occurrence. I have seen many discussions on Twitter and elsewhere online, involving people who haven't and may never meet in the real world, communally helping one another and coming up with solutions that are of immense benefit to many others. 

Exactly one year ago,  a day after my birthday, I wrote about gratitude, generosity and altruism. These were and still are central to my life whenever I consider the past, present and future.

As I say goodbye to age 30 and embrace 31, my intention is to donate my time as much as possible. The immediate place is a hospital of my choice, where I can dedicate an entire day to go out there and help strangers who are in pain, in anguish, alone... those whose day I can add value to. I shall help in cleaning, in assisting medical staff, or any other duties assigned by those in charge.
Revealing the hospital where I intend to volunteer my time is beyond the scope of this blog post, I need to do this without any publicity whatsoever. 

Where's the Love?
In her song In God's Hands, Nelly Furtado asks the following:
We forgot about love
We forgot about faith
We forgot about trust
We forgot about us

Now our love's floating out the window
Our love's floating out the back door
Our love's floating up in the sky in heaven
Where it began back in God's hands
I leave you  with the following deep words:
The essence of life is planting trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Learning, Sharing, Music and Happiness


Today's post on The Walkabout has been kindly hosted on Kawiria's awesome blog.

It simply touches on things that I hold dear. That is learning, sharing, music and something that Kawi's name exemplifies - happiness. 

Now go right ahead and read the entire post on Kawi's blog.



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