As 2019 draws to a close, I have been reflecting over the past year. It has been quite eventful, some things welcomed, others not so much, far from it in fact. While I will not go into all that’s happened, I figured I should talk about a few life-changing events.
For starters, as evidenced by this post and the ones that have come before it, I seriously took up writing. Seeing books on shelves with my name on them has been a lifelong dream of mine but one that I didn’t actively pursue, mostly out of fear. What if I was a crappy writer? What if I didn’t have anything to write about? What if people didn’t like what I wrote? Could I make a living out of writing? And if dreams fulfilled, I got to a point where I churned out bestseller after bestseller, would I, someone who shies away from the spotlight, be able to deal with the kind of attention that success would bring? Clearly, I have given this a lot of thought. But that is a long way from now, and until it happens, I’ll continue doing what sometimes feels like public journaling.
Dealing with the public is not something that I’m very comfortable with. It scares the crap out of me and prolonged contact with the public drains me so much that for my wellbeing, I have to step back for some me-time and recharge. Public speaking is also not something that I’m overly fond of or particularly good at. But this year, I decided to change that and so signed up for a public speaking program, Kwanza Kenya Toastmasters. There’s nothing to write home about so far but I’m planning to change that in the new year. I did volunteer for a role in one of the club meetings though – yay me! – that of the “ah counter”. For those not familiar with the way that toastmasters work, one of the things that happen there is that members give speeches and the club-mates give feedback geared towards helping their fellow members get better at public speaking. One of the ways that they do this is by pointing out things that the member needs to work on.
There are also various roles serving different functions during a toastmasters meeting and the “ah counter” role is one of them. It’s about listening to members giving their speeches and taking note of prolonged pauses during a speech that serve no useful purpose, repeated words as well as words like “ah, um and well”, that are often used as filler words. And as someone who’s usually guilty of doing all those things, I have so many logs in my eyes, I’m seriously hoping for a deluge of lumberjacks. Stay tuned for my version of “it’s raining men” when it finally happens. With all those logs, I did wonder though how I would be able to see the specks in my fellow Kwanzanites’ eyes. And when I did finally take up the role, I was horrible at it but in the spirit of toastmasters and helping members get better, I get to do it again at the next meeting, um…yay? Here’s hoping I will do a better job.
Writing and public speaking though scary, are things that I welcomed this year. What I didn’t welcome were the gain and loss in time this year. I gained time age-wise by turning 30, the big 3-0. This was something that I dreaded, especially seeing as my by-30 checklist has no checked boxes. I figured that was the worst it was going to get, looking at myself in the mirror knowing that I had disappointed a younger me and the vision that she had of her 30-year-old self. But all that was before the crapfest that is life sometimes, happened.
For this is the year that I lost my dad. Death is our reality but that doesn’t make accepting it easy. My dad had been sick for a while but on the day that shit started hitting the fan, I listened to a 23-year-old talk (#hadithinjoo) about death and the fact that until she turned 17, it hadn’t hit close to home. In the six years since, she went from being someone who comforted mourning families when it hit them to being a mourning veteran because it hit home and it hit hard. Like her, I had been to several funerals and for most of them, my dad was with me, this solid presence when shit got real. I knew that at some point he wouldn’t be around but that was way way into the future: when he was gnarled with age; when I’d finally gotten my shit together and made him proud; when I finally met The One, and my dad and I had an awkward father-daughter dance when The One and I sealed the deal in a low-key ceremony; and lastly when my dad had lived to see the grandkids that I gave him grow up. But the universe had other plans, for the craptastic Big C hit and just like that, my dad was gone as was the time that I thought I would have with him.
There are times that it feels like a horrible dream and I can’t wait to wake up to him being around; laughing, dishing philosophical wisdom, reading his books or the newspaper, helping his direction-challenged daughter with directions, going on one road trip after another with his people or just being him and what he’s always been, an anchor. But this is the dream now, that and nostalgic memories of time past. The new reality is about time that is now and forever lost to us.
As I bid adieu to 2019, here’s hoping that 2020 brings better tidings.