Wood to the fire; The trigger to start.
Coincidence, Destiny, Fate, Design, Life; A pattern of experiences, memories, moments, decisions, profession, dreams and passion.
Yesterday, I thought about today. Before yesterday I had been thinking about Yesterday, Today I am thinking about tomorrow which will be Yesterday in the future. Today is a continuation of where we left at, last time. My back is bent and in pain probably because of how long I have had to carry today’s write up since we encountered the ‘Village Tree Pruner’. Anyway, problems aside. I am seated here writing a profession.
Words are neutral , we are the ones who give them meaning. Linguists would call it Semantics. Some Caribbean music wafts through the mono Bluetooth speaker on the top left corner of my beaten-up laptop as I pounce on its keys. Sometimes this black robot just hangs up the boots. It has seen too much and been through too much in our relationship, it claims it’s done with me. I am relentless and resilient; I always reboot it and make it stay in this toxic relationship. The bitter sweet. The lemon honey. Sometimes I make it do a lot of things for me, it gets too hot I think of recommending it a cold shower.
The village tree pruner is now in the city. He has no trees to climb, only tall buildings that he has to stand like a scare crow before he is granted access. Growing up in the village I was an avid reader for a village boy. My mother used to buy me story books. It was one of the things that I loved when I was young. My language and imagination started taking shape from the stories. My mother is a pioneer when it comes to education. She was a very bright student in school and were it not because of poverty and alcohol that my grandfather loved, I would probably never exist. I am not saying alcohol is bad, but that old man killed a dream because he was wrong on priorities. But how would they have met with my father, an aspiring French Beans farmer on the highlands of Mt Kenya if her dreams had worked. This love for story books extended to my high school days when I would use my library card until it was full after borrowing Pace setters endlessly.
The dream was blurred initially, I had no idea who I wanted to be. There was the idea of a doctor, a pilot, an engineer, a business man, a Neuro surgeon. These were just big words we were being told. Ideas of who to become, what a limited list? The reality of these achievements was solely dictated by the academic performance. An academic performance that is dependent on recall. The expectation that my recall capabilities would be super to remember Chemistry Equations and Physics formulas after eating boiled ‘githeri’ with a touch of weevils for protein supply still baffles me. The high expectations, the confidence and the utter disrespect. In class, I knew my strengths. English Language and Literature, Biology, Kiswahili, C.R.E and Business Studies. This though wasn’t enough because there are subjects that I failed miserably like physics, mathematics and Chemistry, call it dream deferred. Let’s face it, we were peasants how could we afford to pay for what was known as the parallel program, that required you to mint several hundred thousand Kenya shillings. I thought I was smart but KCSE proved otherwise. I am not saying I am stupid either because the question of the prior and the latter is a matter of degree.
After four years of eating rice that tasted like charcoal made from pine tree, raw Ugali and cabbage dipped in a water tank, my brain could not deliver the recall it was expected to. I had to settle for what it could achieve. That was the trap. I had no leverage hence I had to settle for the opportunity that was available. At least I had a grade to take me to the University but from there, the course I took was to be determined by the system. I found myself allocated to take a Degree in Education Arts. Did I want to be a teacher in the first place? My uncle was a teacher, I had even had some crush on some of my teachers in High school but had never been inspired to be one, yet here I was. About to be someone I hadn’t identified with. I hatched a plan to sneak through life. It was a solid plan that was fueled by hearsay and naivety other than facts. I decided to resuscitate my Business Man dream. The plan was to take Mathematics and Business ,combine it with Certified Public Accounts and become a banker or a financial consultant. I had never been excited before. I enrolled for these classes and attended my first Mathematics lesson. The unit was called Mat 121 and the lesson was in a lecture hall called LBB. I will never forget this because the first unit was the one I never understood anything in High school just a year earlier, Calculus.
Ambitious and a dreamer, despite not understanding anything during the first lesson, I gave myself hope. I was as little rusty after staying nine months without books or so I thought. I was optimistic I would catch up. The second lesson came, I was still armored with by carbohydrate filled brain that I had relied on in high school. Fifteen minutes into the lecture, there was a brain shut down. The system had rejected the information it was being fed. I had never felt out of place that much before, too much I left in the middle of the lecture. I went and sat next to the library to take five and rethink my life choices. The only jiggle room I had was arts, there were several combinations and one of them was majoring in English and Literature. That was my only way out. As much foreign the language was, I was pretty confident there would be no brain shut down.
That’s how I switched to English and literature. Four years of constant reading, critiquing, writing literature essays. It never was a problem for me. I would say it was fun. I read a lot of books although most of them were for the purposes of making me a good teacher, they did more than that. I also wanted to voice something of my own and in my own way. The flexibility of language fascinated me. The message was the crucial part. I started off with writing some poetry and some of our group assignments. Our submission on ‘A raisin in the sun’ by Lorraine Hansberry was the best essay I wrote the entire four years while ‘A letter from Birmingham city jail’ by Martin Luther King Jr remains my best read. After graduating, the dream didn’t die off completely. When I started my quest for white collar jobs in Turkana, I used to keep a small diary that I would document the atrocities and experiences I encountered. The problem is the diary was a bit personal, the thrill was alive but still I hadn’t gotten myself the feeling that I had jotted a piece that was open to criticism.
With an unsettled mind and having quit my first job and gotten another that offered what I wanted, I kept planning to start but it never happened. Admittedly, there was some resource problems. Writing requires a comfortable and calm physical environment. Well lit, a comfortable chair that takes care of your sciatic nerves, a writing desk that straightens your back and for me some inspirational music maybe some whiskey blues, violin orchestras or any music with live played instruments in its production, everything old school. I have an obsession with imagining and planning what I want. So until I had this type of headspace, I knew I couldn’t write. I acquired a desk 8 months ago. But because I am a hustler as we call each other with others who have their hustles, I encountered a seat problem. The project faced low funding and economic challenges but the goal remained. Like they say, If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the Goal.
A friend of mine has been aspiring to go to America. They say it’s a land of dreams, I think he wants to go and look for the dream there. He did the famous embassy interview that most people dread and he left his passport there. He told me that was the sign that you passed the interview. He has been very excited and he started moving his things home in the village getting ready to fly. A fellow photographer. He was disposing off his things four weeks ago and he asked me to go see him. For over an year we had this plan that never came to be. We had been planning to have duck together. We interviewed for jobs the same day in 2019.When the village pruner came to Nairobi the second time, with nowhere to sleep, he accommodated him. May ‘Ngai’ always bless him. We planned to have that duck in his house, two days before he moved out. As we were eating, he gave me a tripod to an aperture Photography light. Although it is broken, I took it because that was an opportunity to say bye to my brother and also because it would come in handy in my line of work. We shared the meal with his friends who had also come to bid him farewell.
The following day at work, I saw a chair that had been disposed off because it had some wobbly legs. There were complaints that it’s taking space at the office. It looked desperate to leave because of how misused it was. I asked to dispose it at my house after all its just one empty room full of dreams. To my surprise, the wobbliness was just some loose screws. It was just an easy quick fix to bring it back to life. I had my writing space ready but I still didn’t write. I didn’t have the inspiration and the energy to write. I had even created an account with a blogging platform but it was just dormant. That’s when the urge to climb hit me, the yearning to be on top of something. I had a nostalgic moment of my childhood. I went and told my boss about mountain Climbing.
Either by design, fate, coincidence, destiny or life itself but four days later a friend of mine texted me something I couldn’t believe. He had just started his tour group for reasons only him knows. The first trip was to climb Mt. Kilimambogo in Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park. For a minute I was confused about what that meant. Conflicted whether its nature giving me an opportunity that I wanted at the moment or as a test to see how committed I was to doing what I had said I wanted to to. It was a walk and talk moment, an experience of chance.
The following few days were a contemplation of the decision to make. It came at a time when I have been trying to tap into myself and start creating something of my own. I needed an anchor to help me loosen up after a tedious first four weeks of January that have been confusing with all the unpredictable weather. I needed to get out of the routine, refresh and focus on my creative aspect.
That’s how I am here writing this still confused what my trigger to start was. Was it the surreal nostalgia of my childhood that took me to climbing Kilimambogo? Was it the life I have seen in my 25 years? Is it just an art of time, a profession made years ago? But how would that be, life itself ,made ne run out of a math's class and join Language and literature class. Is it by life’s design that I am here, that all the things I have gone through and did in the past were preparing me for this.
The answer to that lies with you. It depends with how you see life. Are you able to connect a pattern of what's happening in your life or you are focused on what's outside of you. Sometimes you have professed things and opportunities have been placed before you and you didn't see them because you were focused on other people. Either by design ,Fate ,Destiny, Coincidence or Life our journeys are planned. We sub consciously know it. We just have to look closely at our conscious.
Where there is a will, there is a way. Just find it.
Are you able to connect a pattern in your life of the experiences, memories, decisions, and opportunities?