Today is the last day of the semester. Yippee! It has been one crazy semester though. I cannot believe I survived through it. What happened this semester? It feels like someone changed my life settings from Novice Mode to Advanced Expert Mode. But I made it through with a few scratches, half a life, and a new high score. So I guess it is on to the next level now. Looking at it in retrospect, I feel like maybe I underestimated myself a little too much. That is the thing with life, isn’t it? We never know what we can withstand until we have been through it all. Such has been my experience this past semester. When it rains, it pours — when trouble trouble comes, it always brings its family.
First, I got some tough love from one of my very best friends, @fizziebaunz. I’d stayed almost a year without seeing the nigga, then we meet and he all in my business talking about how I done changed and ain’t the guy he used to know. That got me to reflect and I realized there was some truth in what he was saying. I’d changed, partly as a result of growing up. I was no longer a teen so I couldn’t keep acting like one. However, I conceded that I’d also lost a part of me while studying in a small town university. We have this deal where he has to keep it real with me, and that was him doing his part. So I made a few resolutions and headed back to campus when the holidays ended. At the same time I am thinking of making some changes in my life, the puppeteer, you know the guy up there, is busy setting the stage for my act. How do I know this? Because the moment I report back to school stuff begins happening pushing me in a direction I wanted to take but I wasn’t sure I could. My pastor calls such divine providence; @AbuyasLife says it is keeping shit real. I call it destiny.
It started with the mundane life on campus. It is books, rave, bash, books, rave, bash and the cycle continues until the semester ends. Of course, some of the bashes can be pretty wild making for great memories. Nevertheless, I do not want to remember my five years in college as a time of nothing but reading and partying. The Spanish say La vida es corta to mean life is short. So in between the studies and having fun, I like to try and throw in a few meaningful things. By meaningful things, I am referring to things which take us closer to our dreams or build our capacity to achieve them. One of those things for me is writing, both prose and poetry. I do not know how yet but I feel that one day words will be at the core of my better achievements. Sadly, there’s a huge difference between resolving to do something and actually rolling up your sleeves to do it. Thus, I procrastinated until mid-semester before doing anything. Somehow, the puppeteer, the controller of our lives, had anticipated my laxity. Two months into the semester and I was dead broke. That’s about the time when I usually put on my thinking cap. The first thought to pop in my mind: How can I be so damn broke with all the skills I have acquired so far? My empty gas cylinder, food cabinet, and wallet all answered me in unison. It was clear that I was not living up to my potential. School is no excuse, I admit I need to put in more effort towards making some of these perennial problems disappear once and for all.
Before I could decide on a way to end my financial woes if only until the semester ended, something so sad happened and jolted me back to the moment. When I say moment, I mean this second that we are breathing now, and these circumstances that are surrounding us. It made me realize that I needed to start living each day like it was the last one. In that spirit, I became vocal about certain injustices, some real and some imagined but both equally unacceptable. Little did I know that being outspoken would be the mother of the second of my hurdles for the semester. It earned me a two year long suspension from campus. Well, maybe it is not really a problem but a solution to my first initial problem. As long as I am not in school, I’d have to work and earn a living. Two years is long enough to do more than merely earn a living, I can earnestly begin to build a life. At the current life expectancy in Kenya, two years is about 3.6% of my entire life. I’d be quite stupid to throw it all away waiting to go back to school in the hopes of getting a degree.
It occurred to me that too many people are fixated on having academic qualifications that they forget that their real strength is not in getting the papers but in their potential to learn. In the old days before schools were formalized, people used to be hired without skills as apprentices. The employer then taught the apprentice the basics of the trade before he began paying him real money. An apprentice could stay until he too mastered the trade, then he was required to go set up his own shop. The opposite is happening nowadays. You learn at a different place, then go to the master having acquired the skills to be employed. The way I see it, there is not enough time to build both my dreams while helping a stranger in the name of employer build theirs too. That is why I love the entrepreneurial spirit. Unfortunately, I have to admit I am not that good with business. But I can learn, thank God for a brain.
It is foolishness to deny yourself something you really want or need in life simply because of what you cannot do. Could you walk when you were born? But did that keep you from learning to walk? Could you talk? Read? Could you even feed yourself? Look at you now, able to not only walk but also run and leap; not only talk but also give a speech, not only read but also write. God wanted you to learn that lesson from your childhood: You can learn to do anything that can be done, and with faith you can learn to do things which have never been done. Not having a certain skill is not sufficient reason to give up on any of your dreams. Find ways to learn, educate yourself in anyway you can until you acquire sufficient know-how to start out. When you start rolling forward slowly, God comes and gives that start-up of yours a boost you could not have imagined. From there it is a top speed ride to your dreams. At that point you realize life is not too short for us to have and achieve important dreams.
I love learning outside the classroom, and outside my course of study. One of the important lessons I learnt this semester is that I am either extremely lucky or absolutely blessed. I think it is both. Despite being handed a two year suspension in the middle of the semester, the university did a reasonable thing and allowed me to complete the semester. But what a time to be required to read for and pass your examinations! Broke, suspended from school, and generally unsure about my future, those are the circumstances under which I was revising for my end of semester examinations. What was more stressing though is the nagging thought at the back of mind that I had to break the news to my family and friends soon. Friends can think what they want, I can always ditch the pretenders. Dealing with family is a different ball game altogether, I am stuck with them. The last thing I would ever want is to see them disappointed even for a second.
The good thing about always remembering that life is short life is that you learn to keep the important things in focus. I am even having more fun now. If a committee in a university can so easily turn one into a dropout, then it is much easier for the engineer who commissioned my design to call me home anytime. This is why I am not concerned about trivial things like what people will say or think about me now that I was suspended from college. The most important thing is how you feel about yourself. Based on your belief system and moral values, can you look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of what you see? Can you look at yourself in the eye and convince yourself that you have not betrayed your dreams, that you have not failed in your commitments to yourself? And if the answer is no, can you be able to make a sincere promise that you won’t quit, that you’ll keep trying to be the person you always wanted to be and to have everything you wanted to have? Most importantly, can you keep that simple promise? La vida es corta, be true to your own self because the map to everywhere you want and need to go is written in your heart.