What’s the best lesson your daddy ever gave you? Beyoncé was told to shoot and not cry. Luther Vandross just wanted to dance with his father again. Madonna told her papa not to preach. Well, my papa do preach. And let me tell you something. It’s well worth listening.
We all have mentors, role models, idols, icons or whatever other names pop culture calls them and when they speak, sometimes you want to shove a gun down your throat just to stop having to listen to the endless jibber jabber about how hard work pays and how when they were your age, things were a lot tougher for them. Then other times, all their gobbledygook turns out to be fodder for the brain. Wise snippets that actually come into play as we tackle our lives. Forget all the self-help books about how to become an effective person or the power of positive thinking. That’s a bit too complex. Joyce Meyer had the right idea when she decided to go the way of addressing the everyday life.
There’s no way of putting it. Shit happens. A lot. Besides, as a woman prone to hissy fits and tantrums, fatherly advice comes in handy, more often than I would like to admit. According to some psych test I took online, I have dependency personality disorder. I can barely make a decision without advice. Even picking out a bra for an event two weeks from now. Fortunately, I think my father is the most well read and talkative person I have ever known. That’s after considering me. So he often has a wealth of advice to give. And I am occasionally happy to hear it.
Plenty of this wisdom bestowed on me is retained. Sometimes for the sake of resentment because he knew better and I didn’t want to admit it. But other times to share with my fellow Nairobians.
When I was in high school and shortly after, I had a very disturbing habit of exhausting every resource I had. It wasn’t because I was indiscipline or possessed no self-will. No, my father had a different terminology for it. He called it scarcity mentality. It’s where we manifest a grabbing behavior because we are greedy, selfish and entitled and simply want the most out of something that is supposed to be shared or stored for a later date.
I couldn’t keep a box of biscuits beyond two weeks. I wasn’t bulimic or an overeater. But somehow I convinced myself that if I don’t finish the biscuits, they could be stolen. Same thing went for pocket money. I would squander it all so early because I rationalized that the good stuff in the school’s canteen would have its stock depleted sooner rather than later. At the time, it made perfect sense.
During meals, I couldn’t savor the meal. Not even if my life depended on it. I would inhale that food and only pause when I needed to add more Royco or to pass the salt over the table. The closest I ever came to showing any restraint was when eating githeri. I would eat the maize first; get the worst out of the way. Hoover the beans into my stomach then finally eat the potatoes. Unfortunately there was no slow way to eat potatoes and within the gulp of a child caught red-handed, the potatoes would be gone too.
After high school, my father witnessed this behavior after I ate a 500g container of peanut butter within two days. Loaves of bread meant to stay for at least three days would be consumed in one afternoon. Money handed to me would be kaput the moment I set foot in town. I would wear one excellent pair of shoes and completely forget the rest I had. They would come undone after a couple of treks because I had to wear them before they got old. Eventually, he’d had enough. He sat me down and told me to just stop.
Resources are there in plenty. Be they matatus, food at a canteen, money, food in a crowded house, shoes, food in a cafeteria… exercise restraint. The world doesn’t owe you anything. So don’t act like if you don’t grab it you won’t get it. Don’t go pushing people half your size just to go stand in a bus when if you could have waited, you’d have gotten a matatu with enough sitting space. Don’t spend all your money on something like the retailers usually forget to renew their inventory.
Ever since that lesson, I have found my life to be surprisingly stress free. I even found attending events to be less of a hustle because I stopped having to line my purses with plastic to carry extra food from a buffet. I stopped being grabby and exhaustive. I just am. I just wait. I just smile. Thanks Dad.