When it clocks midnight today, I will be a year older. For two decades and a year or so, I have been on a journey that has been largely characterized by moments of bliss, anguish, anxiety and pain to some extent. Along the journey, I have battled some serious questions of identity, morality, sanity and general existence from a multitude of perspectives. Life has presented its good side in ways I could never have imagined even in my wildest dreams. But I have also seen, in this short period, life’s darkest version that embodies lots of undesirable torment, shock and emptiness.
It took me a long time to have a grasp of what my existence means but the heart of it came to me in an instant, a few years ago, when I lay on the ground in the outskirts of Naivasha next to a wrecked bus. The bus I was aboard in had found itself in a grisly accident and a few of us were lucky to escape with only minor injuries. My left hand was bleeding furiously. A ringing sound was all I could hear in my head for ten straight minutes and in that moment I felt like passing out for the first time in my life. A new mother who had sat a few seats in front of me was holding a crying baby.
I don’t recall who, between the two of them, was bleeding on the head but I do remember that the sight of blood gave me nausea. I knew that the unpleasantness of that day would live with me long after it was all over but I also recognized more importantly that something inside me had been shaken to the very core. I knew that I had the choice of wearing a life of nihilism on my sleeves like a badge of honor or living a life of truth to self and acceptance to the things that I can’t control.
I don’t quite remember the exact moment when I chose the latter. All I do know is that I have been on a mission of reflections, introspections and making the lives of people I come across easier or better whenever I can.
As I turn a year older, I can’t help but have all these random thoughts of the twists, chaos and joys that I have seen through the people I have met over the years since my very early days of existence. I cannot claim to have exact recollections of my toddler days but I do have a traces of childhood scattered all over my memory cells.
Sometimes, in the deep of the night, I get these rare flashbacks of me playing with a small bike or molding clay by the riverside in the company of old friends. These are friends I laughed and equally fought with on multiple occasions. Some of them have families now and with responsibilities that keep them awake till the small hours of the morning. Some have passed on along the way and we shed tears over their graves and memorialized them with sad songs in the cold Nyakach nights. Some disappeared from the face of the earth and have never been seen again. People sometimes ask me questions like “Where did Erick Tevin go?” I tell them that I wish I had a clue.
I lived by the equator at some point and met people who reminded me of how lucky I am to be in good health and good shape. I saw firsthand the kind of excruciating pain that one of my roommates went through because of his allergies and kidney problems. He’d cry in the middle of the night and call out his mum’s name in one of the most saddening acts of desperation. When he finally heeded our advice of moving to a day school near his home, we were quite happy for him. It was the better option. He’d finally be closer home and could easily be taken to hospitals whenever his painful episodes recurred. We lost touch as the years passed but I always imagine that he is free of pain and is holding court somewhere at a beach with a passion mojito dangling from his left hand.
I have, over time, also come across people who find positivity even in the direst of situations. People who can turn naysayers into positivity merchants. I once went to a hike on Maragoli Hills where a lady kept telling us that there is no obstacle that a human cannot overcome if they set their mind to it. My friend Andy kept whining to her the whole time. He kept saying “But my joints hurt Ruth. How do you expect me to keep climbing?” I don’t know how she did it but Ruth pumped some inspiration into Andy’s head and he is quite the life enthusiast these days. He sends people those annoying morning quotes on Whatsapp that only aunties and mums usually forward around.
I have had moments of soul-searching that got me questioning the phenomena of how people can easily grow close and wander apart equally as fast. Having lost some friends and gained new ones across my life, I have a rough idea at how expediency sometimes reign supreme in our lives. I have thought about the concept of human interactions from all angles and scenarios and came to the conclusion that I can never fully comprehend the mystery of human psychology. Maybe in some distant world or in some distant future I will. Perhaps the best way of living, as I once learnt, is to accept the things that you have no control over and work at personal enrichment in whatever form you know best.
It is impossible to put in place some of the greatest highlights of my life in a single post. I have had many low and tough moments that I thought would never end. But time has proved so great at making people better if you let things be. Thrice, I have been in situations where I thought I would never come out alive but I still did. Sometimes when I talk to my old man under his favorite tree, he reminds me of how luck has ran with me over the years and commands me to be grateful to God.
Despite the bad times, there have been many moments of bliss that will forever remain written in my heart. It’s no exaggeration to say that I have interacted with some of kindest people that this planet has to offer. These are people whose authenticity will eternally be a source of great inspiration and admiration. These people have made me cleanse my soul of any ill feelings towards others or life in its entirety. They are the people who became lifetime friends. When it clocks midnight today, I will remember that these past years have not been a solo journey but a march of togetherness because of them.
I don’t take for granted the blessings of good health, good life and good people around.
I will now toast to the New Year that lies ahead of me. Is this the point where I say “Happy Birthday to me”? Is that even legal?