The other day I was catching up with a pal of mine. It was a nice, warmish Saturday afternoon. Good conversation nowadays is like a delicious appetizer to a tasty meal. We were at a cute sundowner place in Karen where we could see the sun about to set behind the Ngong hills. This was one of those moments I wish my eyes were a camera so that I could take that photo.
Photography has been a passion I’ve had for a long time. My mum bought me my first camera in high school because I loved taking shots wherever I went. Years later I bought myself a Canon camera and an extra lens which I would use to cover all our family and work functions. This passion was put in hibernation by the digital disruption. I must have been one of the last guys in Nairobi to stop buying films to use for taking photos because they went out of production. We could say on this one that I was not boarding just like Miguna Miguna. My buddy Rose then bought me a camera on my fortieth birthday but for some reason it did not ignite the photography spark again. I took some shots with it then kind off packed it. Lately I’ve been seeing sights and life moments that I wish I could capture. I’ve used my phone and that has aroused my interest even more. I think it’s because I recently bought myself a good phone, not the half smart phones that I get by redeeming bonga points at Safaricom shops.
It’s funny how life gives you signs to confirm whether we should proceed with something or not. Three weeks ago we had brunch with the family at Shamba café on Loresho Ridge. At the entrance to the restaurant by the veranda was this photo exhibition by Caroline Muchekehu (check out her amazing work on @seemuchphotography). I was blown away by her wildlife photos. I inquired from her about her journey and how she started taking photos. She simply just made space for her passion as she did life and here she was with her first photo exhibition. Seeing her work and talking to her was like pouring kerosene on a flame. I decided right there that it was time to buy myself a camera.
That evening as I was scrolling through Caroline’s work on my phone when a forwarded picture appeared in a WhatsApp group that I’m part of. It showed the biggest regrets people have and went on to list six, each with a photo of the description. One of the regrets people have was not following their passions. The picture to portray this was a camera. That was the last sign I needed to push me off my behind and do something. I bought a nice camera last week and have registered for photography classes in August. I can’t wait to learn how to maximize my camera and take spectacular shots. My desire is to do it to the highest level professionally and even earn some cash from it. I recall my baby shark asking me at shamba café why the photos are so expensive. I told her because they are very well captured and if they belonged to daddy, we just needed to sell four pieces to pay her next term’s school fees. From that moment I earned her support.
This photography story emphasizes the chat we had with my pal at that sundowner bar in Karen. We talked about some work challenges she was going through and some radical moves she was planning on taking. I listened to her and loosely advised her to follow her dreams because life is short. Her response caught me off-guard kabisa. She corrected me by saying she needs to follow her dreams because life is long and settling for a life that you’re not comfortable with is like a long jail sentence. I had to take a few sips of my drink as I processed that comeback.
That statement reminded me of an article by World Health Organization a few years back that said sixty is the new middle age. This is because generally people are living longer due to the advancement of medicine and technology. I wonder if that makes folks at forty like us millennials hehe.
My buddy opened my eyes to the fact that I can start a brand new career at my age now and thrive. This is the point where I admire mzungus. They seem to have (and succeed in) several careers over their lifetimes. Some of them totally unrelated. They appear to switch to the career of interest at the various stages of their lives with relative ease. Could it be due to living in advanced economies with more options and opportunities? Many of our parents picked one career most if not all their lives and seemed content with it. Maybe it’s the scarcity mentality that led to fear of pursuing the unknown, so they stayed put. Sadly, our education system has only reinforced that thinking and buried creativity. But that is changing now and we are beginning to see our people following their dreams and passions more intentionally.
Folks, allow me to challenge the notion that life is short and encourage us to have a long view of life. This may nudge us to invest in ourselves and pursue our God given treasures so as to live a long life of meaning and significance. The problem I now see with the life – is – short theory is it may be the excuse we use to free us from pursuing our dreams and settling in our comfort zone. We could easily start convincing ourselves that there is not enough time to pursue our dreams and passions..
Let’s choose not to have regrets when in our sunset years. The sun was still setting slowly when we finished this conversation with my pal and it did feel like a long chat. It’s like the sun was waiting for us to finish before it goes to sleep behind the majestic Ngong hills. If that is not confirmation that life is long, then I don’t know what is. Live long good people.