dear me

Write a letter to your 100-year-old self.

100! Are you kidding me. Are you trying to show off. What is it you really are trying living to 100. Your age mates have all fallen by the side. Your friends. Girlfriends. Even enemies. You have outlived them and now it is just grandchildren and your children, who are around you. Even your children are old. Almost at retiring age.

How did we get here? How did you manage it, you who took such risks as riding in the streets of Nairobi, then considered an extreme sport. Doing those crazy hikes like your life depended on. How did you survive those many falls?

But seriously, what does a 40 year old got to tell a 100 year old ancestor? That we wish to be as old. That we hope they have become wiser, gentler, compassionate, humble with age? That they have a better grip on their desires and motives? That as you approach your last days, you finally know what is vain and what is truly important.

You have lived through different regimes. At 40 you had no regrets, do you have any at 100? Do you wish you killed yourself sooner, say before you lost teeth at 90? Or at the time you were sleeping only a few hours a night and waking up to piss more times that you liked? Or immediately after your partner died? Was that not a good time to follow her lol? What did you remain to do?

I am not for writing long letters and those who have been unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of my letters know this. So even to my 100 year old self, I wouldn’t want to bore you with a long letter. We know your attention span has gone with the dogs or is it the winds and to ask you to pay attention for much longer seems to my 40 year old self as asking for too much. So adios and good health. Make it to 120! If you can. Or 130. Because why not?


Me at 40.

Not again

How does death change your perspective?

I have written on death so many times one would think I came from the world of the dead to give a lecture on death. It is one of the topics I like to read about, think about and occasionally talk about. After taxes, it is the one thing that we are certain happens to all of us. Some philosophers have said we do philosophy as a preparation for a good death. That is, if we live well, then we should die well. Maybe this includes suicide if to continue living is no longer tenable- say like during the reign of Nero. But I go ahead of myself.

I recall reading a letter in which the author says we have nothing to fear about death for when death is, we are not and while we are death is not. This, while it is easier said is not easy to practice. Death presents to us an abyss without end. Its uncertainty in terms of when, how and whence present terror to many of us.

The death of young people, more than any other death, disturbs me. I don’t want people to die young. Death should come to us in our advanced age except if we have been struck by an infirmity that makes life no longer meaningful. But then this is person dependent. Some one may not want to quit life sooner because they don’t want to offend the gods for taking their lives.

My perspective on life has changed following death in the family and of friends, to the conclusion that it is so transient, and there is nothing much we can do to live long. Some people drink themselves silly, live to be 80. Some do all the right things and then death comes at 40. So unpredictable, death is.

And so what to do with this knowledge? Live fearlessly. Live courageously. Live fully. Do all you want to do with the knowledge that the grim ripper is always a shadow away. Be kind to all other unwilling travelers seeking meaning in this life for that’s all we can do to our fellow men. And forget about the things that divide us, such as whose god is bigger or race superior or bum bigger.

Or as they say, let us make merry for tomorrow we die.

On punishment

I have on different occasions shared opinions and quotes on this topic. It is known by regular readers that I am I lean towards abolition of prisons. I also believe with JJR that we should abolish capital punishment in the few places where it is still in the statutes. This doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with what to do with violent offenders. I listen to podcasts on crime and some of the offenses leave me wanting to throw up. The cruelty. The pain caused to families. The violence to the victims. It is all too sick. And the question is, what must society do to protect itself from such?

All that is not the subject of this post.

In this post, I want to ask a question. Different countries have term limits for different crimes ranging from a few weeks to several lifetimes or even capital punishment. The question is, was there a rational basis for say determining that for the crime of sexual assault, the minimum time for rape is 10 years (according to the Kenyan law)? I think the mandatory sentence was ruled unconstitutional. What is to be achieved in the ten years? Could the society achieve the same goal with a shorter sentence? Say 2 years?

What are your thoughts on this matter? Are there rational ways of determining what length of a sentence is required for say a murder? Keep in mind society doesn’t always punish murders. For example, during war, the guy whose side wins i.e kills the most, gets more stars on his shoulder and a presidential commendation for valour and other military honours. It is the killing by individuals not sanctioned by the state that we abhor completely.

Maybe I have this all wrong.

fuck work

Last week I was reading this post about work and whether work, really is the solution. The authors argue that the age old maxim from the good book about work (he who doesn’t work shouldn’t eat) may actually no longer hold.

From where I sit, I think this is a first world problem. In many places on the continent and other cities in the global south, there is an employment crisis. Those in employable age bracket have no work and struggle to make a living and would be the last to say fuck work.

What do you think of this question posed in the article?

How do you make a living without a job – can you receive income without working for it? Is it possible, to begin with and then, the hard part, is it ethical? If you were raised to believe that work is the index of your value to society – as most of us were – would it feel like cheating to get something for nothing?

How will covid 19 end?

Or rather, when will it be declared endemic rather than a pandemic? And realistically, if it is after mass vaccination, that is not soon. Whereas some places have close to 90% vaccination rates, we, here in Africa, at last check, are at 30%.

How will this post pandemic world look like? Masks everywhere? Booster shots every 3-4 months? Dead economic sectors.

In unrelated news, Moi, the late president is said to have left behind $3 billion worth of assets. Man was stealing for 24 years while the rest of the nation was impoverished. It is true he followed the footsteps of the first thief. Maybe these thieving heads of states should read Tolstoy’s how much land does a person need. Maybe they will check their appetite for public goods.

Whatever happens, stay alive.

In sensation and sex

Plutarch argues only three things are eternal

  • Atoms
  • Empty space- it remains untouched and unaffected by any impact
  • The universe- no available place surrounding it into which its matter can disperse and disintegrate

He the continues to argue against the idea of an eternal spirit since it, among others, may fall prey to the mind’s own specific afflictions, madness, amnesia and plunge into the black of waters of oblivion.

Following this argument, then, he concludes that death is nothing to us and no concern of ours since our tenure of the mind is mortal.

And in a formulation of the argument that we were dead for eternity and it didn’t bother us, he writes

If the light of life were given to us anew, even that contingency would still be no concern of ours once the chain of our identity has been snapped. We who are now are not concerned with ourselves in any previous existence: the sufferings of those selves do not touch us.

So my friends, fear not death, it is nothing to us the living. It awaits us at the end of life. Harbour no fear for torments after death. All your torments are this side of the grave. Don’t multiply them needlessly.

were you there before you were born?

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.

Mark Twain

I know that title is a mouthful, but you will have to bear with it. But before we get into the meat of today’s topic, is it really the case, as implied in the quote from Mark Twain that we were dead for billions of years before we were born? Is to not exist and to be dead the same thing? To die, I think is only possible if we have lived. And therefore Mark Twain is only half right. And for this reason, there is some reason why many if not all of us fear death or is it dying. The thought of ceasing to be goes with all our hopes, desires, anxieties and even troubles.

How many of you remember what you ate for lunch last Monday. I will wait. Rebecca remembers life from when she was inside the womb. That is as close as it gets to before one was born. I don’t remember much of anything from the past anyway.And maybe it is a good thing. No, I didn’t have a bad childhood. It was just ordinary. School. Home. School. Just like it is for most people.

Do you know anyone with such memory or are you one of the 59 others with such memory and would you weigh in and tell us about it.