I got deeper and deeper into the towering woods and closer to the river. Chania river flows from the Aberdare ranges in west central Kenya. Just a few metres away, Chania river meets Thika river, the confluence of which yields the cascading Chania and Thika falls. I sat on the riverbank, looking fixedly at the lazy, constant flow of water, I wondered why my life must freeze at the experiences of yesteryear, when it had the capacity to flow to distant future. I wondered why my childhood dreams must ebb away, when I could power them to surge forward.
As I sat there in deep contemplation, I recalled the first time I came to this river. I was an A-levels student at a school not too far from Thika town. After a successful Christian Union weekend challenge, we had come here for baptism. Nostalgic memories of the moment I was thrust into the fast flowing water flashed through my mind. I had felt like I’d drown in the bitingly cold water, only to emerge forcefully to the cheers and chants from my fellow students.
I returned to this spot a few years later, as a college student, but on a different kind of a mission. This time, I had taken a girl I liked out on a picnic. The indigenous trees that make up a small forest along River Chania attract a wide variety of birds. We watched them and listened to the noisy birdie songs as we enjoyed the wondrous beauty of nature and each other’s company. My heart had thundered in the chest as I gazed deeply into her wide, round eyes. What would her response to my proposal be? Unbeknown to us, word about our date had leaked among our circle of friends in college. On subsequent weeks, we were faced with rumor, innuendo, intimations and suppositions.
On this third visit, however, I came to deal with something quite different. My life was at a crossroads. My world was falling apart. I was in denial, and the voices of self-doubt were getting louder. I felt somewhat special connection to the place as I had experienced at least two turning points before; at this river, at these waterfalls. Would I get the answers and the direction I so desperately needed? I was a man on a mission to rescue someone who was drifting. Nay, falling off the precipice – myself.
I did not get any answers. What I got instead was a stronger resolve to face my giants, to fight my battles. I pulled my notebook out and scribbled some commitments. I’d take my eyes off the intimidating obstacles and on to my goals. I’d put my life back into play.
I stirred up as the sun started to set. I cast a final glance at the unperturbed river and tramped back to the road. My mood was different and hope renewed. I sensed that what I was capable of achieving inwardly would ultimately change my outer reality. I was going to overcome.
Henry Thoreau’s words are so true; things do not change, we change.