Friday, September 17, 2021

An Ikigai Life

I had tea with my aunt. Dawa tea at Java.

She didn’t ask me about work, or why I don’t have a husband yet.

She asked,
‘How are you feeling?’
I said I was in a state.
She said, ‘I can tell you are not okay, and you wrote about losing your friend, grief is tough.’

I told her August was hard. There was a funeral or two each week. People I know, and my friends’ people.
“Before you finish comforting one you start comforting another.”

She asked about my plants.
I told her I now have a spinach and sukuma wiki.

‘ Do you know about Ikigai?’ She asked. ‘It’s a Japanese concept, and I think you are living your Ikigai.’

Something you are good at.

“I think you are very talented. I read your writing and I can tell you write with ease.”

I was glad it came from her.
Writing has never been a by the way for me. I write every day, not as a hobby but it’s something in me that demands to be let out.
Over time I have crafter my skill, got better at it, become more disciplined but at the same time maintained SUBLIME INNOCENCE.

And because I write whether I am earning from it or not, it never feels like a chore.

Something the world needs

Does the word need my writing?
The best writing I ever did was when I interviewed over 30 people living with Epilepsy and their families. Their stories helped to get medication for school going kids on expensive medication. You can view the project here:  Help a child with epilepsy stay in school

I learned love, resilience and grit from every family I visited. In turn, I did my bit to give a voice to their story. In spite of the challenges that come with having a non-communicable illness, most do their best to not be defined by their illness every day.

Something that rewards you.

‘ I can tell Gathoni, from talking with you that money is not a driving force for you. It is not a measure of success.
For you, it is something more. And I think it’s freedom’

“Yes. I love my time.”

‘And I guess your choice of work provides you with the freedom you crave.’

I told her about my hair business. How at first I just was looking for something to prevent me from being very broke. Then the more I learned and spent time with passionate people, who don’t look at hair as merely business The more I found my ground.

T Man, the loctician that taught me all about dreadlocks reconstruction once told us.

‘Hakuna haja kufanyia client job teke teke alafu kesho dredi zishaanza kukatika. Dredi ni life.’

-Don’t be in a hurry to service a client’s hair then ruin it. Dreadlocks are a permanent style, don’t use shortcuts-

I enjoy working on hair. I don’t get tired even when I have been on my feet for 8 hours. I love the money too. It’s a perfect reward.

When our brief tea was over and I got into the matatu, tears flowed.

I felt understood.

She had called me her ‘baby girl’ and it felt wonderful to not be the adult in the room for a few moments.

It took me back to 2003, having lunch with an aunt who fully got me.
She was great at giving tough advice and better at listening.
We laughed, we cried with her.
That was my last year as a child/ youth before I was propelled into instant adulthood.

She died the following year, and for many years after that, I was just potting about life hoping I don’t mess up things too much.

I haven’t had a clue about life but all the while masquerading as an adult.
I knew what I wanted, how to get there but then the world throws dishwater at you every 100 meters when you try to use your brain and do things your way

‘You are living the life many people want but only attain after retirement
. Don’t change it.’
She assured me.


I woke up in September

September came in at a pace I like. The first day was yellow and sunny and It made me imagine all the good times I would have outside.

It also created unplanned opportunities to meet up with people I’ve been meaning to hang out with. Like my home people.

We all lived in one house at some time.
Why do we disperse?

I am a dreamy sentimentalist.
Wanting all my people together.

I found myself back with my favorite people, farmers.

These tell me their real stories.
I like to hear everything a farmer has to say.
Farmers are patient.
And they trust in God.
And the real farmers are genuine.

I love genuine people.
Like the Train crew on the Nairobi Kikuyu evening Train where I got a Marriage offer.
I haven’t met such a happy bunch before. It was like being at a sports bar on an easy evening .

On the train bound to Kikuyu via Dagoretti, I met Kang’ethe.

He said, “would you like a husband? There is really no time to waste, you look like a good woman.
I am married, but I have a friend who would make a good husband, he just Donno yet. I trust him. What do you say?”

I told him ‘ Tell your friend to meet me here tomorrow at this time.’

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