‘It sucks, but that’s how it starts’ He said pensively, more to himself than to me. It was a great evening conversation, despite the cold weather that has engulfed Nairobi the past few days. He sipped a mug filled with hot water and I remembered My Mug. He also has his Favorite Mug!
As he absent-mindedly and somehow thoughtfully stared at the tiger orange walls with these three sconce wall lights, he repeated his word, this time addressing me. The lighting was gentle. Like it is meant to create an environment for conversations. It illuminates the room with warm luminous rays that sort of inspire creativity (or sleep). No music, no TV. It is serene. When nobody was talking, I could hear myself chewing. And trust me, you don’t want to hear someone chew food. I suspect at some point he wondered whether I chewed as such because of my ties with guys from Kiraitu’s land. But being a hospitable family guy, he graciously didn’t mention it. I wonder how people get that comfortable with silence. In those ephemeral moments between words, I would glance at every book in that room. He has a great library. It is not organized though. I learnt my rarely read books are the best organized on my desk and I was ashamed of myself. Sometime later he admitted that he reads his books erratically. ‘Sometimes I can read a few pages and leave it at that then one day I remember I read something related to what I am doing now and I look for the book again and this time I delve deeper.’ ‘I don’t do the latter but I also read erratically.’ I thought to myself. Every time I walk into that house I feel like there are ten books I can take with me and read all of them in a week and my life will be as ‘it’s supposed to be’. Usually I don’t. I have learnt that reading atmosphere is not in my house. May be it is because of its small size, or the lighting, or the comfy seats (or lack thereof). But mostly I think it is the occupant.
As the conversation skewed towards passions, I realized he has a blog. This was as new as it was big for me. He posts these short nuggets of wisdom-mostly quotes from great thinkers but for some weird reason it skipped my mind he could somehow have a blog . The only writing I knew he does (and anyone who has ever sat with him even in a matatu agrees with me) is in his journals and notebooks, which I believe he owns in the tunes of hundreds right now. But yes, Bucho, a true definition of a polymath, my Pasie (hehe, I finally found a place to use that name, Pasie) has a blog by the name StoryMaking: Stories of Life and the World as it Should be. Dating way back to 2008. And just like all the great bloggers, his posts are as invaluable as they are rare. Being a creative story gatherer, he began by collecting stories. Then he gathered so many stories and the more he gathered, the less he wrote. Monstrous act. And here we are, busy complaining about some innocently greedy politician hoarding maize. I think if there will ever be a Bloggers’ debate, Bucho won’t show up.
I haven’t read an article on fatherhood yet. Bucho, if you somehow read this, kindly explain to me how a baby turns a grown man into a clown and you automatically learn baby language. After one year of fatherhood, do you think those faces we make to babies to get them to show their toothless gums are really funny or those babies just laugh at their superpowers of turning us into clowns? Or it doesn’t matter in the end?
We talked about life, money, more writing, our upcoming Journey Church, God. As our conversation changed lanes on all these topics, he’d always quote some random guy. Not the kind of people that all motivational speakers quote. No. ‘There’s a guy called Brad Feld. He is an entrepreneur and…’ ‘There’s another guy by the name…and he said…’ on and on he went, each these guys sounding like some his next door neighbor. The only person he mentioned and I had heard of was Henry David Thoreau, the author of Walden, and this was because I am reading that book. And that was a good feeling. It felt like we had a mutual friend, even though dead, a mutual friend nonetheless. We both knew Henry. Bucho and I.
Henry said: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
Beauty of sitting down with older people who have lived life fearlessly and passionately is that they encourage you to kill your fears and go out there and be the best version of yourself. The ugly part of it is that that they won’t give you answers that, being a generation of instant everything, you want so badly. Instead, they will let you be the proverbial butterfly that breaks out of a cocoon by its own inner strength. Both a frustrating and freeing experience. You want answers so yesterday but then again, the beauty is in the making of your path as you walk. Or crawl(as most of the initial stages require).
When I enquired about his vast knowledge of great writers and how I have been reading and I can only remember Mahatma Gandhi (whose work I have never really read), he chuckled, ‘When I was 26 I didn’t.’ that was encouraging, albeit for that moment. ‘I will be as knowledgeable someday.’
In a nutshell:
In an environment where majority are seeking security in form of jobs, it will take guts and courage to do what your heart knows is true. You can choose to have your own house by thirty (or whatever age) or have gathered stories, explored places, met people, discovered your tingling points, learnt new things, loved and lost and written about it. All these things may not ring your cash register. If you are not squandering money, not addicted to drugs or harming yourself, keep doing what you are doing. It may not pay now, or later. But I bet God would want to hear some stories about earth when you get before him. Tell him about how his mountains are spectacular, sunsets breath-taking, his people good and evil in equal measure and how love is the only thing that remains-having experienced it all. You can have a few selfies. I however doubt the Good Guy is impressed by people who take photos of food in restaurants before eating it.
That thing you want to pursue but you feel derisory, incompetent and unapt, don’t stall. Do it.
Happy Birthday to Kihoto, the only baby i know to have been held by so many hands in the first year of his life.