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!

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