Have you ever read a story about someone that made you question what you’re doing with your life?
Sometime ago, I had the privilege of reading a manuscript about someone who I can only describe as exceptional. Had his children, who each wrote a chapter about him not confirmed the story he had given, I would have taken his incredible story with a pinch of salt.
He grew up in a poor household, and it is a miracle that he managed to complete primary school and go on to secondary school, eventually joining a teacher-training college. After serving for a number of years as a teacher, he would go on to hold several influential positions at the Kenya National Union of Teachers, (KNUT) before joining the corporate world where his contribution was nothing short of impressive.
In between this, he got time to play various active roles at his local church, even going on to become a lay leader besides running several successful businesses and sitting on the board of several institutions. He has also been behind several charitable initiatives, using his resources to send scores of needy children to school — he in fact rallied a couple of his friends, and together, put up a primary school in his home area to cater for children from disadvantaged homes.
While doing all this, he managed to fulfil his role of husband and father too. According to his wife of over 40 years, he was, and still is, a dedicated husband and an ever-present father, a fact that his six children confirm. His children, now adults, say that their father, in spite of his demanding schedule, found time to have supper with them most evenings, drop them off to school in the morning and check their homework in the evening. And not once did he miss a visiting day when they joined boarding school for their high school education.
Reading this man’s incredible story, which I can’t sufficiently summarise in this space, I could not help thinking about how many of us complain about how difficult it is for us to achieve work-life balance, yet the only serving on our plate is family, work and social life. Under family is a husband or wife and two or three children, under work one 8am to 5pm job which most of the time affords you a weekend to spend time with your immediate family, socialise with friends and maybe visit your parents. Or sleep.
Such a slim serving, yet from the whiny posts on social media some feel compelled to post, you would think that they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.
I may not have the habit of whining about life on social media, but I am guilty of whining all the same. After reading this man’s story though, I could not help feeling ashamed of my undeserved complaining. I also could not help feeling as if I haven’t really done anything with my life.
Should I die today, what will people say about me? What mark will I have left? Questions I haven’t yet been able to answer.
The writer is Editor, My Network Magazine in the Daily Nation. [email protected] Twitter: @cnjerius.