You wake up early one chilly Sunday morning, fully determined to get to church early enough and be among the blessed #Team10:29, for two reasons: first, so that no one will talk ill of your African timing skills anymore. Secondly, due to the fact that if you come to church 20 minutes later you risk hearing just the final blessing. A church that keeps time. Like really keeps time.
We’ve all been to that church where the pastor says ‘Finally…’
20 minutes later, ‘as we wind up…’
15 minutes later, ‘you know I am a man of few words, so to wrap up this sermon …’
10 minutes later, ‘na tukimalizia…’
You get it.
(Angel, I hope you report my arrival time this time round too. With the same enthusiasm as when you crucified me for coming to church few minutes to communi-tea time. Remember? Thank you.)
Anyways, I get to church at 10:24 am and it starts raining. More like God’s tears of joy at my punctuality. I suck at time keeping. Just saying. I get seated and the first thing I notice is a basketful of fruits. Fruits that momentarily remind me of those Jehovah witness booklets with white people petting tigers that seem to understand the Word more than I do. i always wonder whether those predators go vegan when they go to heaven. Ever noticed in these booklets, the children are chasing butterflies, fathers and mothers on some picnic having a seemingly sumptuous meal- with steaks from a relative of a deer grazing nearby that the disciplined tiger cannot eat- and really great time of laughter, usually by the side of a clean, gently flowing stream of water. It has no turbulent waterfalls or rapids. Talk of a good life.
There’s this humongous pineapple in the basket that looks juicy even with its spiky clothing on. i could smell that fruity scent as it passed to Alfie. (Another Church where backbenchers get fruits). Then there were apples, sweet bananas. I love bananas. I wish I could say the same of apples. I don’t like the latter may be because they are not grown in the land of green gold that I was born in or may be most of the people I know who love apples should be executed. This could be just my experience but all the girls who love apple the fruit are really beautiful and have a way of turning hearts into pulps. I said girls because I believe any man whose favorite fruit is apple needs deliverance. There are many other fruits in between Nyama Choma and apples. Bananas, the seasonal mangoes, the bitter oranges from TZ. (I heard they make them bitter intentionally for Kenyans ndio mjue maisha ni machungu kweri.). There is watermelon, or an avocado, a fruit that gladly does everything for you including maintaining your hair (or beard, Danny. Do more avocados, bro). Or even sugarcane. Even onions would do. But apples, really?
The only apple thing a man should be proud of any association with should maybe an iPhone, Mac, you know. Apple products. (Android people, kill me)
Bananas. Did you know Kenya has among the best bananas in the world? I’ve been to many banana growing countries in the world and their bananas are no match to Kenya’s. (Don’t we all love the internet and all the information we can get there!) But the pictures of Hawaiian bananas look like they’ve been edited. Those tiny black speckles that signify ripeness in bananas look like most Nairobi girls’ eye lashes. Fake.
Few minutes into the service, there’s this deeply felt conviction that being a typical bedsitter guy, I will taste these fruits. Bedsitter guys rarely eat breakfast especially when attending a church service where there is tea. It’s a lot of work to prepare tea for one. I thought I was alone but I ask any ninja ‘when did you wake up today?’ And the answer is usually ‘9:30am, took a shower in 5 and was out by 9:40. You know I live in ruaka (or kinoo, thika or Narok or Nakuru).’ Basically, we don’t do breakfast.
And oh, I did taste the fruits. The small, sweet bananas. If you know me just slightly as half as you know about taxes, you definitely know that I love bananas more than most humans. I would trade friends and most family members for one medium size bunch of yellow-ripe bananas with spotted skin and not regret a thing. So I got to do what I do in the house in church. Savor the banana.
As others devoured white and black chocolates, there was nothing but pity from me. I imagined they think that chocolate is better than bananas. Poor apple lovers.
Then we delved into exploring what constitutes a good life. This was deep, people.
We live in a world where the only news worth airing is bad news. It is wars, corruption, natural calamities, heinous acts against fellow humans and brute creation, broken leadership, economic meltdown. It is funny how if there’s a demonstration (peaceful or otherwise, I cannot tell the difference nowadays) and police unleash teargas to the crowd -as they often and happily do-, no one will highlight the policeman helping the old woman caught in the scuffle. Headlines will be: Police teargas a 76 year old woman in Kisumu’. We have such insatiable appetite for bad news that we cannot find good news palatable. Good news is boring. it is flat and does not trigger negative vibe. What will we complain about now? Give us some bad news for heavens’ sake!!!
Exposure to this lethally toxic environment for long enough and soon we personalize things that do not affect us directly, not with the aim of finding solutions but categorizing and classifying the perpetrators of these evils. We become bitter, pessimistic and ungrateful. We see all that could go wrong and preach the same to anyone who cares to listen. We propagate lies that would fuel and justify our pessimism and bitterness towards a people, a thing or a situation. Our hearts grow as cold as a witch’s tit. We have no humor, anything and everything anyone says in whatever language offends us. Call us the pessimists!
So, how do we live the good life in a world seemingly devoid of any good?
First, there is enough good in this world. Open your eyes. Period.
Be present in the moment.
The future, past and every other tense but the present has this ability of taking away the joy of NOW by filling our hearts and minds with things that are irrelevant. Forget that phone, be in moment! Don’t let a moment pass you because you were busy checking that Whatsapp message. What great conversations are born when people are in the moment! If you are eating a banana, peel it gently, remove those strings meticulously and eat it in small bits. Chew it completely. Feel the moment! You can bet I wrote this with my eyes closed. In the moment! If you don’t eat bananas, well, just be present in whatever you do. But I would recommend you try some banana, some day.
Choose your attitude.
Be grateful for what you already have. It’s a lot. Way too much to let your heart digress into ungratefulness and the never ending chasing after the wind. Sometimes, all that can go wrong will go wrong. The most natural thing to do is to be mad, depressed and start a downward spiral of bitterness and ingratitude. This is more like shooting yourself on the foot. Choose your attitude and see the good that you already have. It won’t solve your problems. Neither will the former. If you meet some person filled with bile and they talk ill of your attitude saying you are full of yourself and pretentious, well, leave them, smile bleakly like Mona Lisa and make both of you a nice cup of tea. You and Mona Lisa.
Connect with people.
Create genuine, real connections with people. Relationships are a central part of our existence Forget these shallow, casual and empty friendships that never go past ‘How’s life, job?’ small talk. Connect, Serve others, and love selflessly for it is in giving that we experience healing and peace. There’s joy, emotional calmness when in healthy relationships and friendships. You can call it communi-tea.
Connect with God.
He’s the author of this thing called Life. He knows it all. He’s got the blueprint to this maze, man. He controls it all. Talk to Him nicely and you may never wander in frustration. You can and should wander in amazement and exploration but never in doubt, self-pity or confusion. Like The Wanderer, you know. Hehe. Connect with Him at a personal level, free from any false confidence in your deeds but fully resting on His unending grace and love. He’ll show you The Good Life.
Silence and solitude.
My favorite. Silence and solitude brings you to a point of deeper self-realization that nothing else can. The moment you become comfortable with your own company, and can easily sit down with no music, no internet, you’re almost there. Especially the internet. Sometimes we get lost in the trees that we miss the forest. Taking time to just listen to your inner self, preferably with a journal gives you clarity on issues and all the options available to you. I try this and most times I just doze off. The few times I don’t sleep, well, I sleep later on, this time a happier man. Try it. Not the sleeping part, in case you need it, sleep, lambkin!
Without sounding like some self-appointed nightingale of physical therapists, physical exercise is good for your health. Enough.
After the service we decided to walk and experience the good life with a bunch of ninjas and empresses. Ghetto Radio is doing things to me. What followed was an afternoon of The Good Life. (Story for another day)
The Sunday Crew, you people rock. But I would still trade ALL of you for a bunch of speckled yellow bananas.
This coming Sunday we start a new series. #TEAM10:29HRS.