Ten lessons all men can learn

I am turning a certain landmark age in life where I suspect I will soon be asked, by youngsters, to dole out advice for life.

In fact, these days, when we go for our PEN high school and college trips, advice is all I seem to get asked for, alongside Khainga O. and Professor Chris Wanjala.

So let us pretend I am speaking to a young man of eighteen who still has some way to go to get to our age. Why eighteen? Because if the State can hang you, you sure can receive advice.

However formulaic!

19 -21 Live your youth to the full, but make sure you play it safe. You will never be in college again, so ‘riot’ a little bit as you study (just enough to keep your grades up), explore the other gender so you do not have regrets that you did not live youth to the full in later years.

22 -24 Make it a point to travel (and this is coming from a chap who has seen the world).

I love the way Western youth, after college, can even take a year off to back pack across the world. I once knew this Canadian chick called Leah Bailey and she and her boyfriend, a chap appropriately named Cannon, spent a year travelling down the American continent to Montevideo, then Bangkok, India, Egypt– and by the time we met up in Kenya, the two were dead broke.

The point is, at this age, just say you will visit and stay in Masaku, Lamu, Nakuru, Kakamega, Thika, Kisumu, Kisii, Eldoret, Mombasa and Mandera.

25 – 27 Fall hopelessly in love with a woman you will never have – either because of age (she’s a cougar) or because she is dead set on marrying someone else. It will cure you of ‘hopeless romance’ in later years – and that way you’ll never end up giving your entire pension to some barmaid you met when sixty in a bahasha.

28 – 30 Dedicate your life to a career you actually love, and try and be the very best at it/ what you do, because even when you work extremely HARD, your passion for what you do will always be the renewable energy that you fall back on.

31 – 33 Either get married, or get a child with someone you truly care for (and make sure the mom is a smart person because, however clever you are, half the brains – or lack thereof – come from mother). Do not become one of these senior childless bachelors who kid themselves – ‘those things are for dunces’ like some of my friends.

34 – 37 Learn to battle your shortcomings, inner demons as well as any enemies you have, at this age. If it is quitting smoking or taking on that land grabber neighbor of yours in the boondocks, this is the time to hone your war horns. And learn NEVER to give in to any enemy, great or small. In any matter.

38 – 40 Make money if you can, in whatever honest manner you can (although there is also borderline ethical). Heck, just make cash in this country if you can, man. Then invest it well – for there is no sadder story than the one of the man who was once well off.

The eighth important lesson I have learned is that sometimes you have got to let go of some relationships – whether it is that BFF when the ‘forever’ wears out, or that dream lady who soured on you (and you realised how much happier you were, later) or even a toxic sibling you grew up with. No relationship on earth comes with a perpetuity clause – so if the end comes …

Speaking of which, lesson nine must be to make peace with your spirit, so that when the end arrives… but I know nothing of this. What tenth lesson can you think of? Write me at the address below. Best answer wins a gift hamper (okay, a book from us).

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Tony Mochama


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