Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Simple Life. A Life most Uncommon.

"You laugh at me because I'm different, I laugh at you because you're all the same."
- Jonathan Davis

Unconventional shenanigans

On Saturday evening, I was on phone with one of my best friends whose name for the purposes of this post will simply remain Shee.
At one point following a conversation inundated with laughter, Shee asked me why I deliberately opted to resign my Engineering job back in the day and following a brief freelance career in Web and Graphic Design, eventually decided reside on a small farm. She wondered why like many other people do, I didn't first work in Engineering for some years, accumulate capital, and upon resigning, go back to the village and live on the dividends of my hard labor in Engineering which in her considered opinion, is a very good profession with handsome financial returns.

This is a question I have had to answer innumerable times, and the answer is never standard. Granted, my answer in any particular situation is always an apt response to whoever asks it, since it is invariably a poignant reflection of how s/he looks at life. In fact, I believe Jonathan Davis's words quoted above (with the necessary inclusion of the word 'bozos' between 'you' and 'because') would be my most comprehensive epitaph.

Well, my life is largely a living example of going against the grain, being avant-garde, unconventional, borderline eccentric, and whatever other phrases can adequately describe anything that is not exactly in line the norm. It is a markedly significant deviation from what many people, considering my background, would end up doing in life.

Let me explain:

Pete the 'chop'

From the day I started schooling, I was consistently the best student and remained top of my class from Class 1 through Class 8. In high school, I was always in top 10 position, and anyone who went to MHS will know that I was a piD veteran ;-)
I then proceeded to pursue Mechanical Engineering at JKUAT and despite the realization (mid-course) that this was not what I wanted to do all my life, I still graduated magna cum laude.

In view of the above intellectual proficiency that such academic accomplishments illustrate, I soon got a job in a Building Services Engineering firm in Nairobi a month after graduation. Six months later, I resigned my position at the company and decided to go freelance, thanks to an enduring decision that it'd be in my best interests to fly solo.

Since January 2006, I haven't been anyone's employee. The only other time I seriously considered formal employment was in August 2006, where I did get a job in a Nairobi-based heavy earth-moving machinery company as a Sales Engineer but resigned my position only 3 days later.

Flying Solo

When I started out, I gave myself a carte blanche in managing my own affairs. It is the desire to be in charge of my calendar, my hours, my decisions, my goals and aspirations and to a very large extent, how I would meet my obligations and realize my aspirations that informed the desire to go freelance. I well knew there would be challenges, and I was ready to face them. And I continue to face them every day.

Much has however changed along the way. For example, I recently put an end to my freelance writing career, preferring instead to be a creative entrepreneur with the very intention of putting systems in place that will ensure that it is money that works for me. This is very much in contrast to the murky freelancing situation where one is always working for money by repeatedly looking for more work instead of creating value-adding opportunities both for himself and others. This very notion has been very well discussed by one Andrew Kiriti in the March 2013 edition of Complitly Connect Magazine.

To best understand how and why mine is essentially a very different approach to life, read once again, Jonathan Davis's words above. Perhaps you'll then realize that I have set for myself some very long-term goals which thankfully, I am satisfactorily accomplishing. Admittedly, some of the goals are lofty but heck, it's good to raise the bar really high at times. And for the record, I do not in any way compare myself with others. I actually revel in the fact that I am different.

Steve Jobs in his Stanford address (watch video and highlights on this Living in 2010 post on The Walkabout) was quite clear that:
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice.
That said, I am simply living my life the best way I know how. If anything, I never waste a precious second trying to figure out how others are living theirs, unless it directly and adversely affects mine. I have learnt to live and let live. That way, I have all the time to focus on whatever in my own life needs my utmost attention.

The Simple Life

How then, do I live?
Well, my stated objective in life is to seek and find meaning. Only then can I be more than happy and satisfied - I'll find true and enduring fulfillment.
I therefore unrelentingly seek enlightenment and every time I find it, I simply keep going. I do place a very high premium on doing things that are for the greater good, I have already that I'll accomplish my mandate of doing so by sharing useful information and even better, adding value to information. Perhaps this is why I'm always reading.

I am a renewable energy enthusiast. Informed by the realization that the most important things in life are not things, I am also alive to the fact that money should not be the only motivation in life. Life would then be so damn limiting, and a mindless pursuit of things only results in a vicious cycle where things that really matter are soon forgotten. My approach to wealth is not to accumulate a vast amount of tangible things, but to have the least wants having adequately, even ethically met my needs.

Towards this end, I live in a simple house on a small farm in Limuru, located in Kiambu County in Kenya. What I do here in line with my intention is to rear animals, grow most of my food, set up systems that will earn me money whether I sleep all day or not, and effectively manage the natural resources at my disposal by using solar, wind and biogas for my energy needs and as much as possible, reduce, reuse and recycle.

The best two examples of people who have come close to living this way are Robinson Crusoe after he was ship-wrecked on a deserted island and Henry David Thoreau as described in Walden.

Of most importance, I am keen to have had a lasting legacy in this world. Through my writing, I intend to make a positive impact on many lives - one life at a time. That way, if my writing entertains, edifies or simply makes you think, than my mission is accomplished.

Finally, the book!

Interestingly, simple, uncommon living has already inspired my novella Life Uncommon which is scheduled for publication on December 31, 2014.

In sum, mine is a simple life. A life most uncommon.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Enjoying the Journey, not just the Destination

At what point do you derive the most joy in your endeavors? Is it at the beginning, along the way as you progress or upon completion?
Depending on your answer above, today's post is especially for you. So join me and read on...

The word success does have many definitions, be it from a business, spiritual, societal or any other stand point. My favorite goes something like this:

Success is waking up every morning, whoever you are, however old or young, and bounding out of bed because there's something out there that you love to do. Something you're good at. And you can wait to get at it again today.

In this post, success is defined thus:

Success is not all about being in the right place at the right time, rather being at the right place enough times.
For me, success is deep. personal fulfillment in the process of or upon realization of specific set objectives. It is not an end in itself. One should feel good be it half-way of at any stage before completion. This will in most cases be possible if continuous inventory is being taken.

That way, success will not be an end in itself. Neither is it a process. It keeps happening as a necessary part of a process towards fulfillment.

John Mayer in his song 'In Repair' talks about being "not together but heading there."
Watch the video below:

Methinks we often limit ourselves and so deny ourselves the joy of acknowledging and appreciating progress and achievement when we:
  1. only feel successful upon completion, and not before or anywhere near finishing, of specific tasks.
  2. compare ourselves overtly with others, and thus neglect to acknowledge achievement that are commensurate with our individual circumstances.
  3. peg success and achievement on the basis of predefined metrics, thanks to what has been done before. Think in terms of breaking records and super-ceding others.

At the end of every single day, I look back and ask myself if I have progressed in some small way. If I have made something better, not just for me but for others as well.
Such small positive differences are in my opinion what the following words were predicated on.

In sum, do you enjoy the journey or derive your greatest satisfaction and sense of fulfillment upon reaching your destination?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Society too, can Change.

When I started posting on The Walkabout in 2009, I wanted to share from my experiences and those of others around me, all the insightful and inspiring things we can together learn from. My primary drive has never been page views, advertising revenue or any other benefit that revolves around 'self.' If anything, the most I personally get from my writing on the site is 'Self Discovery.'

Much more than Self-help

In an increasingly selfish and self-centered world, I still firmly believe that the essence of life is planting trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit. That is the altruistic approach I've always taken on The Walkabout, where I have deliberately expanded the scope beyond issues that affect that one reader who identifies with what is shared on The Walkabout, to issues that affect our lives as a society.

Reading The Walkabout, one may get the feeling that it is largely a self-help site. That is indeed correct, to an extent. When one embarks on a journey of insight, inspiration and self discovery, it is a personal endeavor. The Walkabout endeavors to effect change in society, one person at a time.
Well, that is where we start. By that is by no means where we stop.

Change Society?

In one of his best speeches, then Senator Barack Obama noted in A More Perfect Union that one has to always start somewhere:
...embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.
 As explained above, posting on this site may not be enough in addressing all our issues and solving all our problems. It is however done in the knowledge that we need to go beyond self-help, firmly believing that society too, can change.

It may not be enough. But that is where the collective amelioration begins.
It is true. Society too, can change.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Adding Value to Information

NOTE: This post has been cross-posted on Pete on Books.

Today's post is largely an update, in readiness for some of the far-reaching changes in my writing that will take place in the fourth quarter of this year, with effect from October 01, 2013.
In essence, the changes are for the long term, which makes what you'll read next an expression of intent.

Learning and Sharing

Since 2009, The Walkabout has been a place where we learn, share and grow together. We have focused on insight, inspiration and self discovery. The posts on the blog have been tremendously useful to me, and to many others as well.

In short, we have been sharing valuable information.

Stated Objectives

With growth comes change.
Beginning next week, my writing, and indeed the business model that is now predicated on it, is all about adding value to information.

This I'll do through book authoring, blogging and publishing. Ultimately, I'll embrace more media viz: radio and television.

This renewed focus will be instrumental in the release of 'The Walkabout' book that has been inspired by the posts and the topical discussions that have ensued in the comments. All going well, the book will be out just before the end of 2013.

Ideas: Policy, Not Politics

Additionally, this next phase will involve the setting up of the Policy and Ideas blog.
Here, candid, topical discourse on issues that really matter and add value will be carried out. The solutions and ideas generated will eventually lead into action, since only action begets results.

So much for this update, let us meet again next week on The Walkabout, Pete on Books and the Policy and Ideas blogs.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Evidence of Absence

Today's post will be both brief and to the point... because less is more.

"The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are."
- Niccolo Machiavelli.

In a recent post, I highlighted some of my own life lessons as I celebrated my 33rd birthday. Accordingly, one of the most profound things I've come to learn in adulthood, and what alludes many, is to always listen to what others are not saying.

In essence, things are rarely what they seem to be. Interestingly, a person's true character is best revealed at a time of crisis. This is the time people are without the luxury of making appearances or being pretentious.
What is more interesting is that we still miss this because we often are preoccupied with only that which we seek, and in so doing, we disregard all else that is openly available while we remain blinded by what we've singularly focused on.

At this point, it is worth noting that most things in life are best and most easily found only when we stop looking.

In sum, the best way to understand most things is to overcome our default fixation with the obvious. Listen to what is not being said. Perceive in the mind much more than what the eye sees. Ask why not, don't just stop at why. Read between the lines.

Finally, I've come to realize that one very good way of understanding oneself is to carefully consider what one is not, what one cannot be and ultimately, what one cannot willingly let oneself be.

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.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Beginning with the End in Mind

In the last post, I recounted what largely occupied my mind after spending most of Saturday with my dear friend K. That post about The Fullness of Time did not capture the full extent of our insightful and thought provoking discourse throughout the day.

As is often the practice, I saved the best for last and today, I am pleased to present part 2 of my ruminations.
In a nutshell, this post comprises thoughts on why we wake up every morning, why we even plan or get anything done at all... essentially, the very qualification of hope.

It should be noted that in this post, I'll liberally use some happenings in my own life to illustrate some of the salient points.

Destiny: Purpose or Fate?

When I resigned from formal employment back in December 2005, I was determined to never return to what I invariably refer to as a rat race where consumerism is unnecessarily glorified. I had and still hold the firm belief that there is more to life than just making money and then spending it all. True, there are different strokes for different folk, and I also appreciate that it is "to each his/her own" in most things in life. As such, what has worked for me may not necessarily work for others.

Looking back, I'm proud that I've been and continue to realize my goals first as a freelancer and now as a creative entrepreneur. All thanks to self employment.

The reason I bring this up is that when I quit my job, I knew that my destiny would be shaped by that very decision. I was however keen to do all the needful to ensure that it'd be a function of purpose, and not fate from then on. I've in the past written about destiny, purpose and fate here.

It is in setting up the goals (some lofty) that I perpetually aspire to achieve that I've find my purpose in life. When I began, I knew where I wanted to end up. I am not there yet and often times are in repair, but knowing where I'm headed makes all the difference. Sometimes, it takes a strong will, a stronger won't or simply knowing what you don't want to become.

All Things are Created Twice

At the aforementioned times, I hadn't come across Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

For example, my modest den is scheduled for some modifications, comprising enlarging my living room and adding an extra floor. Even before I start sourcing for construction materials, I have already seen the resulting structure in my mind time and again. This is well explained in the 2nd Habit: Beginning with the End in Mind together with the following points:
  • All things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint.
  • Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.
  • If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.

Hope Doesn't Disappoint

With K, we long agonized in trying to draw the line between blatantly assuming that things will definitely go a certain way in line with our desires, or blindingly hoping even when it is clear that the outcome will most likely be different.

In matters of hope, I never fail to quote the following:

Hope is the bridge that connects you to where you want to go,
Faith assures you that the bridge will hold,
Love gives you a reason to cross it.

Thing is, I see no need to hope for obvious things that are in the process of happening, inasmuch as there's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.
For me, Hope and Faith often work in concert, as outlined in the Bible:

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
- Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

"And hope does not disappoint us..."
- Romans 5:5 (NIV)

To echo Barack Obama's words on hope:

Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it.
Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.
In my mind, beginning with the end in mind is what makes one go beyond freshman year in college, graduation with honors being the ultimate goal. It's what makes parents spend huge amounts educating their kids, with no assurance that the kids will not drop out or otherwise not work hard in school.
Beginning with the end in mind is why businesses are started, with the goal of breaking even, returning a profit and ultimately increasing the owner or shareholders' worth. It is what lets an expectant mother love her unborn child, with no way of knowing if the baby will be born at all or even once delivered, end up vexing her a la Kevin.

In sum, life offers no guarantees. There are no assurances that loving people will make them love us back. Only the knowledge that such love is not in vain no matter how it goes is what keeps the love going. By extension, nobody knows what tomorrow holds. The mere hope that the day will be much better if we do something to make it so, is all that matters. After all, of what use would life be if we all knew what is in store for us? Methinks that is the same reason immortality isn't exactly that much appealing.

Not knowing what will happen next is in my mind the best incentive to change things and thereby shape our destiny.

Finally, another photo of the amazingly beautiful place K and I visited as we discussed the above.

Monday, July 29, 2013

In the Fullness of Time

I spent the better part of Saturday, July 27 with a most treasured friend, who for the purposes of this post shall only be named K.
You see, K had paid yours truly a courtesy call and having taken some snacks and amid great chatter, we together took a stroll which inadvertently evolved into an excursion - one full of adventure and amazing scenery to boot, but the hiking and climbing ultimately left us knackered.

Long after K had gone, I took time to ruminate on the engaging discourse that had flavored and greatly added color to the day.

The Element of Time

To this day, the most popular post on this blog is about time and its wonderful effect.
In this post, time is a gift, as was very well explained by fellow blogger who actually wrote:
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.
With K, we mutually observed that everything does and should happen in its own right time. This time should not be unnecessarily determined by undue cultural leanings, popular opinion or shady statistics. That said, there is no exact right time to get married, to have kids, etc.
K asserted that the right time is essentially when one is able, ready and willing to handle a particular situation, and still be in line with, and subject to the will of God.

In effect, time has the ability to change everything. It heals wounds and changes perceptions.
The passage of time facilitates change. Interestingly, our ability to remain steadfast and focused despite the passage of time and varying circumstances is a key component of success.

The Right Time

When the right time comes along, and this seemingly happens once in a lifetime, it is good to keep it going and not lose it... 

The Fullness of Time

The fullness of time means a whole lot of different things in different situations. It in most cases means "having waited long enough."
In theological circles, the dispensation of the fullness of times is well explained here.

In the Bible, the term appears in both the books of Ephesians and Galatians:

"That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him."
- Ephesians 1:10 (KJV)
"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
- Galatians 4:4-5 (KJV)
In view of the foregoing, it is my considered view that the right time, not just time, is something that needs to play a central role in the conduct of our lives.
The right things, done in the right places and for the right reasons, need to happen at the right time.

Admittedly, we all too often get this combination wrong and in haste, only end up moving too slowly, and even worse, in the wrong direction. When we are quick to judge and slow to learn, we hinder our own progress.
It's time we realized that we no longer know so much. It's time we took a different road:

At some point in our conversations, we both wondered why men generally die earlier than women, despite being generally strong.
Is it because men rarely vent, and the bottled-up emotions therefore degrade the male lifespan? This would ironically make men the 'weaker' sex....
What do you think?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Grandma Transition Memorial... 2 Years On.

Two years ago today, my grandma passed on at the ripe age of 98 years.
At the time, I wrote an RIP Grandma post on The Walkabout.

Looking back, I can only thank God for all her days, which epitomized a life well lived.
At the time of her death, she was blind, highly dependent and quite immobile. I however believe that she passed on to a place where she would see clearly and no longer be subject to human frailties. As Hellen Keller said:

"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."

I also believe that grandma's life was a success, and in recognition, I share the following poem which is near always misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson.

To laugh often and love much;
to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;
to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others; to give of one’s self;
to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived — this is to have succeeded.

Here is a site where you can read more about who actually wrote the above poem.

For those who know me or otherwise knew grandma, please take a moment and join me in thanking God for all the days she walked this earth.
This year, she would have been 100 years old. I am however immensely glad that during her days, she was able to achieve so much, most of which some of us still living today can only dream of.

That said, kindly look back at the previous post and do the needful to make today a day well lived.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Today Well Lived

I've just come across the following poem, which I find most profound.
For me, such a chance, random read presents yet another chance to find modern truth in ancient wisdom.

Now, who am I to not share?
Be edified:

Look Well to This Day

Look well to this day,
For it and it alone is life.
In its brief course
Lie all the essence of your existence:

The Glory of Growth
The Satisfaction of Achievement
The Splendor of Beauty

For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is but a vision.
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

- Anonymous, 50 B.C.

Have a great weekend guys.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Life Lessons Following my Recent Birthday

"If we were consciously aware of what we really know about ourselves and others, we would not go on living as we do, accepting so many lies."
- Eric Fromm (in To Have or To Be)

I turned 33 on Saturday, July 06, 2013.
As I always do right about this time, I took time to reflect - to look back and coalesce all that I have learned in the past year - and thus draw up a road-map, albeit in my head, of what lies ahead.

Looking back at my most recent interactions, one important thing that invariably stays true is that growth can potentially herald, even inspire maturity.
Well, I happen to be no exception to the rule and as such, I am getting significantly mature and by extension wiser with every new day. Just don't ask me to prove it, such indulgence is beyond the scope of this blog post.

Following are some of the most enduring life lessons that continue to characterize my recent annual birthday reflections:

1) Be Yourself Always.

Way back in 1998, "Be Yourself Always" were the last words our High School Captain wrote me in those little books we called 'Autographs'.
At the time, I had to a considerable degree managed to avoid undue peer influence, largely guided by Desiderata's "Do not compare yourself with others" among other principles. Today, sticking to this truth has in fact saved my behind on several vital occasions...

Thing is, it starts and ends with you and you might as well be the captain of your own ship.
Only by remaining true to yourself can you appreciate, be in charge of and manage your life. Admittedly, it sometimes will suck to be honest and hurt to be real. You however, have to remain true to yourself. In fact, you should in most cases not "let the noise of other people's opinions drown your inner voice."

2) Never Lose Hope. Keep Trying and Remain Consistent.

The only thing worth trying when all else has failed is again. In the movie 'The Hunger Games' there is a line to the effect that the only thing more powerful than fear is hope. I have in the past read elsewhere that "Hope, like an anchor, holds to the unseen."

In his inauguration speech on January 20, 2009, US President Barack Obama said that "God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny." A minute before this, he had said that "there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task." That is where the trying and consistency come into play. Character cannot be built by random isolated attempts. It epitomizes a way of life, consistent honesty and hard work.

3) Long Term Goals, One Day at a Time.

I have written elsewhere on this blog that destiny and purpose do have a curious relationship.
Having, and working towards long term goals is the first step towards realizing one's destiny.

In his beautiful poem 'The Golden Man,' Alexander Nderitu writes:
"The dream becomes a goal when you start working
Towards it. Visualise your goal and start walking!"

No matter how long-term a goal is, it the constant laying of a single brick, repeated millions of times over, that results in the Wall of China.

4) Acknowledge, Appreciate and make the most of Here and Now.

Despite my initial dislike of Jigsaw in the Saw movie series, I did agree (to an extent) with his way of looking at things. In Saw III, Jigsaw famously said that "Despite Having all the advantages, many of us still choose not to advance."

Every single time I've felt that the road before me or the undone part of any task is overwhelming, these words have helped me pause, take stock of what I already have, and accordingly do that which I can presently do towards a solution.

5) Listen to what Others are NOT saying.

The famous Sherlock Holmes concept of 'The Evidence of Absence,' as was once adduced thanks to a dog that did NOT bark, is the one thing we almost always disregard. We so often fall for obvious misdirection, as Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) and Ginger (Harre Berry) so easily deceived Stanley (Hugh Jackman) and the law enforcement officials in Swordfish. The mind still continue to believe what the eyes see, and that in itself is the singular strength that's inherent in precious illusions.

I have now come to learn that people are in most cases what they appear not to be, and near always mean that which they do not say. That said, it takes a great deal of patience and hindsight to actually listen to what people are not telling you. Unsurprisingly, therein lies their clear message, sans any ambiguity.

* * *

Looking back at the slightly-over-thirty-three years that in some cases contain my shadow days, I can confidently say that "I'm a good man, with a good heart... had a rough time, got a tough start...but I've learn to let it go."

"Now I'm right here, and I'm right now
And I'm open, knowing somehow
That my shadow days are over
 My shadow days are over now."

My best wishes to y'all in every new day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Genuinely Busy, or just a Busy-body?

I've been thinking. About times when I get a lot done. When I am swamped and quite occupied, but still manage to do what is important.
Besides purposing to do this and that, I actually create time to duly attend to what I consider of great important, since it is high on my priorities list.

Funny enough, I never go around telling people how busy I have been or am, it simply ain't cool and such mindless assertions add no value no matter the circumstances.
Busy or not, whatever was to be done remains undone.

The reason I write the above is a general trend I have noticed that irks me a great deal - people unashamedly hiding behind the word "busy" and thoughtlessly using it as an excuse for breaking promises and failing to do the needful. Guys will easily say they've been too busy to reply to an Email, return a call or respond to texts and IM. In fact, people will claim to have been too busy to do what they actually get paid to do.

In the past month, I had to severally remind some public relations official in very respectable companies to reply to long-overdue Emails. The common reply was that they've been too busy to find time to write Emails, all of which was essentially part of their job description. All along, these same guys were tweeting and sharing jokes on their personal Facebook accounts, on their respective companies' time.

My travails aside, have you been finding it too easy to claim you've been too busy that you never courteously excused yourself from an engagement, that you were too busy that you couldn't respectively suggest a postponement or suggest that some person else handle an urgent matter?

Take time and think about why you can't find the time to do the important stuff.
Consequently, stop telling others just how busy you've been, and simply do the needful.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

You ask Why Me. I ask Why Not You?

Yesterday, novelist Chinua Achebe was buried in Nigeria. He died in March in New York, where he spent his sunset days following a near-fatal accident that left him largely paralyzed.

On the day of his burial, BBC Newsday ran an archive interview in which Chinua Achebe talked to Veronique Edwards. He spoke about how he'd like to be remembered. Additionally, he shared some interesting insights about tragedy, both in his life and in his written works.

Listen to Chinua Achebe below:

The above audio clip is loaded with insights.

When Veronique pointed out that Mr Achebe does look younger and doesn't seem resentful, Achebe found this interesting, and asked, "..resentful about what?"

In the interview, Achebe goes on to acknowledge that tragedy is ever present in life, just as it is in his books. When one asks "Why Me?" he asks "Why Not You?" When we think we should not undergo some things, Achebe wisely asks if we do have someone in mind who should instead endure the suffering.
The entire interview of Chinua Achebe speaking to the BBC's Veronique Edwards:

Here's a similar post remembering Chinua Achebe on PeteRNjenga.com.

In addition to being a celebrated author whose books continue to shape opinion, Chinua Achebe presents a most admirable take on life, especially in the face of tragedy and what many of us consider undeserved fate.

Have an awesome weekend.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Telling it like it is

Today's post will be unusually short. Straight from the heart, straight to the point.
It is my considered opinion that many words will only serve to erode its core meaning.

It so happens that the world is made up of two kinds of people. Those who are open-minded, and those who are not. The liberals and the conservatives. Those who are largely objective and the overtly subjective. Those will to live and let live, and those who harbor prejudice and bias. Those who agree to disagree, and those who love to hate.

Within the confines of decency, and taking care not to hurt sensibilities, all life issues, should be subject to topical discourse. No grey areas. Anything and everything that affects our lives can constructively inform debate. And elicit opinions which no matter how divergent, should be respected. Not entirely agreed to by every one, but accommodated.

When you look at Michelangelo's 'David' above, do you marvel and admire the masterpiece, or do you turn away in shame, as you recoil at the statue's nakedness?

Is it right to invariably tell it like is?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Seeing Things as They Are, NOT as We Are

Yesterday on Twitter, I was reading through tweets about Kenya's new cabinet, following the swearing-in of the recently appointed cabinet secretaries.
At some point, one tweet caught my attention. Someone was loudly wondering why women were put in the periphery when they took a joint photo (below) with the President. See more photos here.

My response to that tweet has inspired today's post.

Inasmuch as I stand to be corrected, I often see many responses to many of life's situations as merely a reflection of what we are, with very little said or done about the particular situation at hand.
In short, one person will purposely decide to fault-find and point out wrongs where none exist, while another will see the good in things and in people given the exact same situation.

It is the classic glass half-full vs half-empty situation.

Seeing things as we are can be dangerous. Following are two examples to support my assertion:

1) A Life was Lost

In the CSI season 1 episode 9 titled 'Unfriendly Skies,' a passenger was mistaken killed by fellow passengers when they mistook the manifestation of his ailment as an "annoying threat."

When the murder is eventually resolved, the CSI team discuss that particular case, placing themselves in the shoes of the affected passengers to find out if they'd have committed the murder or not, given the same circumstances. Eventually, Gil Grissom gives the following thought-provoking opinion:

Gil Grissom: It's not about that. You all have different opinions but you've taken the same point of view. You've put yourself in the shoes of the passengers, but nobody's put themselves in the shoes of the victim. That's the point.
Sara Sidle: I'm sorry. What are you saying?
Gil Grissom: Nobody stopped to ask Candlewell if he was all right. They just assumed, because he was kicking the back of Nate's seat, that he was a jerk - because he was pushing his call button that he was bothering the Flight Attendant - because he was trying to get into the lavatory he was making a scene - because he was going back and forth up and down the aisles, he was posing a threat.
Catherine Willows: He was a threat.
Gil Grissom: No. He turned into a threat. It didn't have to be that way. People make assumptions. That's the problem. You just did. And I think these passengers made the wrong assumption and now this guy's dead.
Warrick Brown: Well, if that's your stance how could it have been prevented?
Gil Grissom: If just one person had stopped and taken the time to look at the guy, to listen to him, to figure out what was wrong with him it might not have happened. It took five people to kill him. It would've only taken one person to save his life.
See the full quote here.

2) An election was Lost

When Mutahi Ngunyi posted his 'Tyranny of Numbers' hypothesis on YouTube, he was called names. Many condemned him as tribal and misinformed, and others dismissed him as a hired propaganda hand.
When the official election results were announced however, Mutahi was vindicated.

I have to admit that I try as much as I can to not discuss politics and soccer on this blog, their popularity notwithstanding.
The above hypothesis merits mention however. In the video above, please take note of the reminder that "we often see things as we are and not as they are."
That, my friends, is the core reason we invariably ignore advice, dismiss facts and arrogantly refuse to accept the existence of opinions that differ from our own.

Be Objective

How then, do we change our perceptions? How do we overcome the irrational and often unfounded bias that so often harms our relations with others who may not necessarily agree with us?
We need to be objective in life. We have to stop making assumptions, take time and realize that there is much good in people and in things, if only we can pause and see it amid all the distractions that blur our vision as we try to see what's good and right.

Have a great, open-minded and positive day.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Life after Pete

"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit."
- Nelson Henderson.

Better and more frequent posts, thanks to you

I haven't posted on The Walkabout for a while. In fact, I at some point considered pulling down the entire blog and concentrating on other stuff such as writing books, my design business and farming related activities.
As I kept postponing the deletion of this blog, I realized that I often keep reading many of the posts I wrote back in the day. Some of these posts date back to as far as 2009, but their worth remains timeless and profound.

A case in point is this post about Gratitude, Generosity and Altruism, written back in July 2010. These are character traits that every person of good will can only aspire to. Admittedly, they remain ideals in my life, but I still try...*digression alert*

Anyways, I eventually decided NOT to shut down The Walkabout. It has insights that need not be obliterated, and my page views still show me that people visit the blog every now and then from diverse locations across the world. The Walkabout should continue existing for reasons much bigger than myself.
All in all, posting will indeed continue on the Walkabout and with your kind and generous support, we shall all continue to learn, share and grow on The Walkabout.

Beyond Pete

Lately, I have been thinking about what I'd love to outlive me.
Well, for many people, one's life is considered "not-wasted" when they leave offspring, regardless of how dysfunctional a family this might comprise. For others still, properties irrespective of how ill-gotten the wealth may have been, and political positions regardless of how bloody and damaging to others the rise to the top was... that is how badly modern society considers a "life well lived" to be.

For this reason, we praise rich criminals during their funerals, celebrate the misleading influence of powerful politicians and adore corrupt businessmen who routinely embezzle public funds.

I live on a small farm and right outside my house are about a dozen cypress trees which elicit everyone's admiration for the expensive, high quality timber they have. The trees were planted back in 1959 by my elder father (my father's elder brother) and it is I, my siblings and my first cousins who are now using them to address our construction needs.

Consequently, and in gratitude for these trees, I have been planting several hundred cypress trees on this farm, not with the intention of eventually benefiting from them, but those who come after me - be it my children, or otherwise. Future generations should find some trees to use just as I have.

In remembrance

The above example of trees is quite literal, but I now extend my argument to an area that has more impact, with a far-reaching, enduring influence.

My life is greatly shaped by what I read. Reading what I consider valuable for going beyond mere entertainment leaves me wiser, as I benefit from other people's experiences, the writer's opinion and their now-shared knowledge which is published for posterity.

After I am gone, I don't want to be remembered for all the wealth I had, or the kids I leave. I don't want mine to be a legacy of material things which will only benefit, maybe even damage a few. I want to leave a legacy of boundless influence that will continue to elicit debate, shape opinion and change perceptions. Something that will far outlive me and those around me, something that will continue to enlighten, entertain and edify for all time. I therefore purpose to hold open doors into a better life for others, and what better way than through my writing?

As a writer, it is my intention to leave a legacy of writing that adds value. Writing that makes you have an "AHA moment" or otherwise leaves you much better and wiser than when you started.
The book 'Counting Down the Days' will be globally available on Amazon on July 06, 2013. Afterwards, it is my stated objective to publish at least once every year, a book that explores the human condition.

In the meantime, we continue to share insight, inspiration and self discovery stories on The Walkabout.

Finally, someone has helpfully expounded our Nelson Henderson lead quote:
The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit. Be a tree, give fruits, flowers, shade to others without expecting anything from others. Whatever you want from others first you have to give that to others. Whatever you give to others, you will be given in return. If you give love, respect to others then surely you will be given love and respect from others. Thats why we should learn to give good things to others.
Have a great day guys!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Posting Continues on The Walkabout

This is a quick update, regarding the future of The Walkabout.
The last post on this blog was in January 2013, and lack of posts since that day has in no way been an accident.

It so happens that I love blogging. This blog however, requires that the posts be well thought out, timely, and at least in my opinion, of value. In other words, I do not just post for the sake of having regular updates.

When I started posting on The Walkabout in 2009, I was driven by the need to share  my thoughts and experiences as I go about life's journey. This journey is inundated with insight, inspiration and self discovery.
For a journey that is yet to end, there is much to write about.

I have been fortunate to gain immensely from the writings of other people. Those written words which detail their thoughts and experiences, that outline their advice... those have in most instances shaped my opinion, changed my perspective in life, and have ultimately made me a much better person.

For that reason, it has always been my hope that posts on The Walkabout will be found worthwhile by my readers across the world. If even one post has a positive effect on s/he who reads it, then my work is done, and posting on The Walkabout is not in vain.

So much for this update, stand by for more regular posts on The Walkabout.
In the meantime, take a look at our Insight, Inspiration and Self Discovery archives.


Monday, January 7, 2013

2013. The Place to Be.

Howdy partners! First off, I wish you all a fruitful, Ĺ«ber awesome and profoundly blessed year 2013. 2012 was great in many ways, I am glad that it ended well for me. Now that we are in a new year, I'm sure we all have great expectations, are ready to effect change, and generally lead better lives. In essence, 2013 is the place to be for all that and more. How about we start with Asa's The Place to Be? Happy 2013 guys!


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