This year started with a call from a classmate. I had just dropped my second novel and she called to tell me how her friend couldn’t stop talking about my work. “So, you are now famous?” she asked, and I responded with nervous laughter. To be honest, I was jaded and it would take quite some time before I was excited about life again.
This has largely been a year about getting in harmony with myself. Asking hard questions, like, “If you are so smart; why aren’t you happy?” “How is it that you have two novels that readers keep saying are incredible but they are rarely on shelves?” Even though I started late, I think, somewhere in early July, I finally managed to snap out of it. So let’s get into the 10 things that shaped my 2022.
This is one of the things that I did consistently throughout the year, and to be honest, I am proud of it. I ran at least twenty kilometers every week. I ran on Sundays without fail; I ran when it was cold, when it was sunny and when it was raining. As I edit this on a gloomy Thursday morning, My Nike Run Club App says I have run 994.1 kilometers this year. My running shoes are falling apart, so it must be right. I am looking forward to entering a competition next year. I won’t tell Kipchoge to hang his boots; I just want a participation medal.
I rarely read at the beginning of the year. Reading is a writer’s fuel, so you can imagine I was on my way to being parked in a garage somewhere till I became rusted scrap metal. But then I got my light bulb moment: ‘If you are so smart why aren’t you living the life you want?’
I made a schedule and decided I will be reading immediately after I wake up for at least an hour, which often ends up being two. My Goodreads App says I have read 19 books so far. Here are some that I really enjoyed and that I am sure will shape my life moving forward: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, and The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
We all have noises in our heads; mostly imagined and if we allow them they will get in the way of us being everything we can be. My noises go something like this: ‘Oh, they are talking behind your back.’ ‘Ah, they don’t like you.’ ‘This is a waste of your time.’
I was encouraged when I read a paragraph from Carl Yung’s Red Book which said, “You should not confuse your thoughts with yourself. Your thoughts are not yourself, but things of the world. If you don’t confuse yourself with, say, a tree, animal, or stone neither should you confuse yourself with your thoughts.”
I also got into the habit of meditating. I do it for at least 10 minutes every morning. Meditating might sound fancy, but it’s simply sitting still and entertaining everything and anything until there is nothing left. This has helped a lot with quieting the noises and having clarity and conviction in the things that I am doing.
4. Public Speaking
I have been invited to one or two spaces to speak, but I turned them down, saying that it was not my thing. Besides, I am a writer; I think with my fingers not my voice. But what I find is, the more I run from it, the more it comes after me. To be precise, I can speak in public; quite eloquently and convincingly in fact. But it’s not consistent and it plays out every now and then when I feel pressure. I get hot flashes and my words catch in my throat.
I read Dale Carnegie’s The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking and Stand and Deliver, which have been helpful, but there is something else I am doing every day that I am really enjoying: expanding the conversation with the people I interact with beyond function. Asking questions, and being interested in their perspective without wanting anything in return. I have found what Ali Abdaal says to be true. ‘Everyone is friendly but you have to go first.’
So, thank you, Philip, for the conversation we had at Carrefour about the gifts you were getting your kids. Joan, for expanding my knowledge on different methods of online payment. Nancy, for the laughs in that matatu from Westlands to CBD. Augustus, for the chat we had about almost everything at Boma’s Cocktail Lounge. Maggie, and the list continues to grow every day; I am losing count.
With this habit, my world has grown a lot bigger, and I no longer worry about losing people, or even feel the need to delete, block or cut them off. I am realizing that people are just people, with their good and bad habits, informed by years of conditioning, and there are some that you will get along with and others that you won’t, and it’s okay.
PS: If I really crack this thing of being a man of the people and end up running for political office, please vote for me.
Most of us were raised by conservative parents, which means we are very closed in. We only got approval after bringing home good grades and behavior, and now that we are adults approval looks like bringing home a good wife or husband and grandkids. And it can make you resent them to the point of rivalry because such an upbringing is a recipe for being guarded, feeling undeserving, and always second-guessing your every step, wondering if your next choice will please them enough to give you the approval you have always craved.
This year, I started learning to forgive my parents for not knowing any better and filling in the parenting gaps that they missed. I am learning to get approval from myself first and foremost. I am learning to make choices out of abundance and courage; instead of scarcity and fear. I am learning to live freely. The freer I become, the more in control I feel.
6. Local Tourism
I visited Nakuru and Laikipia County on an Activation project for a brand that I consult for, and I got to stay in very nice hotels. Merica, Ole-Ken and Panari Resort. I send my regards. How I wish I had cultivated the skill of expanding conversations beyond function with everyone I met. Either way, I interacted with some very vibrant youths. Cici, short for Cecelia in particular, was always so bubbly it was infectious. Cici, you made me look forward to those long rides on that truck with a generator and the loudest music on it. Kurudisha mkono, your name features in my next novel.
I have mentioned that I stayed in five-star hotels. You would be wrong if you thought I ate the best meal in one of them. My best meal was in an obscure kibanda in a small town in Salgaa. Beans, cabbages, avocado, and the most delicious chapatis I have had in my life; all for KES 90. I think I have the receipt somewhere around here. I might look for it and frame it.
I dusted off my third novel from a 2019 folder this year. It was at thirty thousand words when I blew off the dust from it, but it now sits at sixty-five thousand words and climbing. It should be out; early next year. My two novels are also on shelves. Pick them up for some good entertainment, to learn a thing or two, or to just support someone with a shared human experience.
I was also part of a team that worked on a TV commercial. You can watch it here. I played a pivotal role in bringing the script to life. If it sounds like I am pitching to a potential client, it’s because I am. I also started consulting for another brand, and this means that my income has climbed quite a bit. Having money is nice but spending it is nicer, I am realizing.
To celebrate, I bought myself a very expensive Apple Watch. I won’t say the price just in case my mother is reading. I don’t want her to get a heart attack because I did not get a canter of cement instead. I liked the thing so much, I have already broken it. I also won’t mention what it’s going to cost to fix it.
10. The Future
I started writing on this blog late in the year, but I started and will continue to be here every Thursday without fail; until such a time that Artificial Intelligence can write exactly what is going on in our lives with style and clarity, then I might take up TikTok or whatever hip thing will be out then.
I also promised myself that I will be writing a book every year. I intend to honor my promise. I will be rolling out my poetry collection, which is way overdue, Black Cat and Dark Shadow the Sequels to Drug Paradise should also be coming out followed by Her Obsession. Not exactly in that order. We will do book readings and book tours and it will be beautiful.
If I was asked what the future of this blog is, I would say it’s going around the country telling our most vulnerable stories: the things we struggle with, the things we think that, if we confronted, would make the world fall on its head. But, in the back of our minds, we know that it wouldn’t, in fact, we know deep down that it would expand our courage and make life that much more worth living.
Not Yet Famous
If my classmate was to ring me today and ask, “So, you are now famous?” I would say, “I don’t know about fame but I am living up to everything I was meant to be.”
With that, I close the curtains on 2022 and say to 2023, “Come, baby, come.” Happy New Year to everyone, and may it be more colorful to you who comes here to keep me company every Thursday.
If you enjoyed this, take a minute to like, comment and share. I will be grateful and new readers will be too. Adieu!
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You are so talented and an inspiration to many. Thank you for the work you are doing.