Last week I witnessed the sunrise from 40000ft above sea level somewhere in Ethiopian airspace. This was my first eye bird’s view of the sunrise. It was like peeping inside a peaceful soul that’s just waking up. I’m glad it was a coincidence to what Wanjiru (our guest writer) wrote about last week. Wanjiru is much younger than me but her story felt like we are at the same point in life. Searching for our true north. So clearly this 40s manenos could have a 20s version too.
My trip to Namibia last week was courtesy of my public service jobs. Whenever I visit Namibia, I feel like it’s an appointment with self and Sir God and this was no different. Namibia has become my confession box of sorts. Here I try to reduce my own internal volume so that I can seek clarity on whether my Google pin position is in line with the coordinates of my destination. I also get to interact with other African nationals and listen with amusement to their dialects which sound very fast. Just a random observation.
I have often wished that I was getting paid for what I do here since it takes a lot of effort and time working for the public good. I am constantly wrestling to find a balance between the demands of this job and giving attention to my businesses. I console myself that even these ‘free’ roles will pay at some point in the future in the form of new opportunities. This internal tug of war is magnified by the fact that some of my older colleagues are in their third age where their lives are calmer than mine. Their kids are grown and self-reliant, they own their homes and money is working for them. Yet for me I’m deep in my restless zone of life juggling to keep all balls in the air. Then add this role of leading an organization and wanting to leave a legacy. I’ve often heard the quote ‘If you want something done, give it to a busy person.’ I wonder why they left out ‘and compensate the busy person accordingly.’
That said I do believe I am meant to be here and at this point in my life. I feel like I’m on a stage performing with the floodlights roasting my face yet the panel of judges are in the dark and I can’t see their reactions to my performance. So I decided that I shall go with the flow on this trip, trust my performance and ignore the judges for a bit.
I flew Ethiopian Airlines for the first time and I was impressed by their many new aircrafts. The pretty yellow yellow cabin crew ladies smiled a lot but I struggled to understand their English heavily laden with their native accents. When they brought food and gave options, I could only hear chicken with a smile and order for that. So that’s all I ate on my flight to and fro.
When I got to my hotel room, I was pleased at how cosy it was. It instantly became my cave for the four days I was there. It’s not often you get a personal welcome note from your host with some chocolates on the side table. I did feel like a mheshimiwa for a while there. The event went according to plan and I enjoyed myself kabisa, especially when I silenced my mind and became present.
The highlight of this trip for me was the gala dinner last Saturday. We were all decked out in formal dinner outfits and the setup in the ballroom was excellent. We listened to the various speeches and performances. Towards the end of the program I started biting my nails in anxiety. I had requested to be included in the program to promote my beautiful country and register our appreciation on behalf of the organisation I represent. The moment arrived and I had to run up the podium. I was sweating as all the eyes in the room from more than ten African countries were fixed on me. The guest of honour (Deputy Sports Minister of Namibia) added to the pressure. Luckily I was wearing a good cotton vest that absorbed the sweat. High thread count is important good people. Hehe…
I couldn’t believe I was on stage about to address this gathering. I quickly composed myself and spoke away without a prepared speech. I handed over our token of appreciation to the sponsors and sports minister and invited everyone to Magical Kenya (even though the news headlines currently are anything but magical). When socialising and bidding farewell to new and old acquaintances, a few of them remarked how thoughtful our idea was. Of saying and showing appreciation for being invited to such a prestigious event. I saw it as simply having good manners. And that I spoke well. In fact the brand ambassador for this event – Trevor Dodds who is the finest golfer Namibia has ever produced (and now plays professional golf in the US) complimented me and asked if public speaking is what I do for a living. I felt very nice I must admit.
On the way to my room I felt like I had accomplished what I went there for. Here I was at an event I would not have afforded to pay for and I have just had my moment in the limelight. Life is indeed like advertising folks. Just keep doing good, seize the moments and be visible. You never know who’s watching and what door will be opened. I didn’t leave there with a new appointment or with a deal at hand but I felt I did what I was meant to do on that stage and let the judges of life decide. We are told to dance like no one’s watching so I believe these judges whom I can’t see will give good reviews.
Sometimes in life we will have things go a certain way and we won’t know which part of the advert (that is our life) have paid off. It’s like the huge billboards we see by the roadside. Companies spend a pretty penny to mount them and hope passers-by will buy their product or service. I’m not sure they can tell which customers came from seeing the billboard.
Folks whatever we do, let’s not give up when stuff seems not to be working out. Keep at it and eventually you will be rewarded. You may never know which parts of your effort will pay off. I earned this trip to Namibia from the years of service in this non-paying organisation. I have never received a cheque for my time and input (just bottomless chai and mandazis) but I got paid with a great experience in a beautiful country.
My pal Mike believes in spending money on experiences and not just things. Things, we shall leave behind but experiences we shall take with us. Would I rather have been paid money for my service in this organisation last week or earned this trip? Definitely the latter. Money is good and we want it, but some experiences are worth more than chums. The experiences you’re going through now could be setting you up for future success.