A Dream Will Never Blossom Without Genuine Hope

Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers

robert green ingersoll

My true urban mates, do you imagine how I ended up in the city?

I am sure you think it was as easy as packing a suitcase and boarding a matatu. And voila! I became a city dweller, same day. Today I confirm that this transition is hell on earth. It is untold misery to leave abject poverty in a remote village and get a life in a distant town. The gods of a rural community love to keep their own. Just like a possessive lover, they make it hard for the one who wants to elope.

There are all manner of barriers and setbacks, all unknown to a rural folk. Because the fantasy that lies in a villager’s head about town life, is laughable. The ever bright lights, riding in cars, living in the sky, working in shaded spaces, cooking without smoke, eating without chewing hard, and all manner of urbane fantasies.

There is a weird kind of expectation that the city will be waiting to embrace its village guest with open arms. To welcome and thank a country cousin for entering, and then handing them a key to a good life. It never, ever occurred to me, that the misery of transition would begin before bidding goodbye to Ndindiruku village. My hamlet of nurture. My safe space that I did not know it was.

It all began with receiving a letter.

The university admission missive opened a whole new world and triggered my wildest imagination. The long wait for this letter had come to an end. That hopeless stay for months. Toiling in the farm every morning, and chasing village girls or drinking village brew in the afternoon, not knowing how life would turn out. I never slept for several days, figuring how my new life would be.

I was confused on how to manage a permanent relocation. Most importantly, what to do with my village girlfriend. If you are from a poor family, dating a beautiful rural girl is like jumping into a cage of hungry lions. You are lucky to survive in the shortest time. I knew well that a broke ass couldn’t manage a long-distance relationship. The constant threat of older people with little money, and agemates from families with deeper pockets, was insurmountable in separation. Either way, I had to leave, with the hope that she would remain loyal to me.

Preparing for the journey was exciting.

Unlike the tin metal box that I loaded while returning to my horrendous secondary school, I had a new bag. Packing a pleather travel suitcase was a pleasurable experience. The zips, the sleeves and the rollers were vanity. Personal items had morphed during this long break. I had a brand new towel that could wrap around the waist—a new toothbrush and a giant tube of paste, to service my new regular brushing routine. I had laboured and saved to acquire a variety of admirable, oversized, second-hand, MC Hammer type of clothes. There was even a perfume and a scented body lotion. Life had truly changed in a year.

Closer to the day, I had to find a guide to take me to the city. I called my only brother who knew his way in Nairobi, and he gladly accepted. The last weekend was exciting. I went to see my friends and share the final moments. I met my girlfriend and bid her goodbye, with promises of a brighter future. Deep down, I imagined how her life would change in a short while—how luxurious and comfortable she would live, compared to my mother’s peasantry existence. I would soon finish college, make lots of money, and build her a house with glass windows and cemented floor, on my father’s land. Where she would raise our ever shoed kids, and tend to my modern dairy cows.

That last evening, my brother failed to show up.

And almost killed my dream. I could not find my way in Nairobi. That city, where according to the tales in my village, thieves preyed on villagers’ arrival. I imagined losing my valuable suitcase before alighting from the rural matatu. Having my pockets emptied in utter helplessness.  They taking off my shoes while I was walking. Crossing the busy streets with endless traffic. Getting lost in the buildings, to never be found. This is not something I was ready for.  But either way, my grand entry to Nairobi was unstoppable.

Convinced that I was on my own, I strapped my bags on my father’s bicycle. And off I peddled the dark, bumpy road to our town on the highway. The ten kilometres to Ngurubani felt like a lifetime. Scared, weary and disappointed, I arrived at the home of my town boy. I shared the news with him, and he was quick with a solution. His father, who worked in the city, was home, and was happy to leave the following morning with me. That hand-holding offer is one of my most memorable acts of kindness I have known to date.

The night was exciting and short.

I woke up early and waited for the mzee to get ready. My friend woke up too, to help carry my heavy bags to the matatu stop. Little did I know that my trip was better than I predicted. Soon, a small private car arrived, and my guide asked me to hop in at the back. The driver was his mate, whose family also lived in the next small town. And both shared a ride back to the city every Monday morning. This ride was a real privilege to me. Sitting alone at the back of a car was a new experience. I did not even notice climbing the steepest hill on earth, nor its punishment for countryside buses. All along, I thanked God for the comfort of the ride, and for my brother’s no show.

We dropped off somewhere near the main terminus, popularly known as Tea Room. I later came to learn that this was the name of an unsanitary but famous restaurant. Not renowned for its high tea, but its convenience of location next to the matatu stage. It is where rural folks idly waited for pick up by their city hosts. The restaurant was forever full of lounging and confused villagers. Buried in their shady baskets, bananas and live chicken.

I hoisted my heavy bags, alone this time.

And off we started walking. I did not know that everything in the city was different, including the speed of walking. My fatherly guide, kicked up a pace I never expected. He fast weaving through the crowds, me trailing with the struggle of lugging and mingling in short breath. It was an intense and burdened chase. Besides the awe of my new environment, I was busy trying to mark my route, with names, shapes and sizes of buildings. I knew well that soon, I had to retrace this path. And this was my first and last chance to be shepherded.

Eventually, we arrived at the campus. I was amazed at the sight of University of Nairobi architecture. The gorgeous Unitate et Labore emblem. The towering forked arches and tall windows of the Main Library. The gigantic meshed façade of  Geography Building. The meditative drips of Fountain of Knowledge, with its rustic stone giraffes. The manicured lawns of Graduation Square. The immovable benches of PG (pregnant) Square. The cobblestone paved walkways. The gait and hairdos of educated people. The skimpy and sexy dressing of city girls. Everything was surreal.

This is the place and community that I craved to belong. And I was proud to have finally arrived. It had taken me years of struggle to make this grand entrance. I had always hoped to kick village life in the butt, and become a townie. This Monday morning, marked the reality of my dream, and the end of my tenure in the village. The reward for my vision, tenacity and unrelenting hope had finally arrived.

Hope is the fuel for ambition.

To hope is not to just want something to happen, but also to believe that it is possible and likely, with persistent effort. When we set goals, we do so because we want to experience something good. The basis of a goal is the visualization of the future experience. But time and space separates this perceived experience and its reality, which means that we have a journey to travel to reach the destination of the experience. This is where the problem lies.

While setting a goal, we forget that the road to travel will be different from the route of our imagination. The first steps reveal unseen obstacles, and eventually, misfortunes show up too. Things start to go in the other direction, or there seems to be no way to go. The unforeseen roadblocks and adversities steer us off, or stop us in our path. Then fear creeps in when things start to go the way we did not anticipate. Our emotions become negatively intense, and we begin to lose ourselves and our vision. Our drive is diminished, and we start to respond to the external environment. At this point, we choose to call on hope or abandon the plot.

Hope is not just a wishful belief. It has a system too.

Prof. C.R. Snyder’s Hope Theory outlines goals, barriers, pathway thinking, and agency thinking as the elements of hope. Goals are essential but uncertain. We develop them in our minds so that we can navigate our lives in a particular direction. But one sure thing is that there will be barriers to achieving our goals. The less hopeful people find these barriers to be insurmountable obstacles, and therefore, quit. While the more hopeful ones understand that life is unpredictable, and obstructions are opportunities to create new routes.

Less hopeful people lack pathways thinking – the ability to develop specific tactics to overcome hurdles, and keep progressing to reach their goals. They also lack agency thinking – the ability to initiate and sustain inner motivation to execute their repurposed strategies. It is the inability to marshall the energy to travel on our new route, while still focused on the destination. That is why, for some people, hope does not diminish in times of adversity. They do not see barriers as insurmountable roadblocks. They know they have to do some re-scheming, pull some new energy, and keep plodding to the destination.

Know where you belong; there are high and low hope characters.

Whatever you want to achieve, the path and process is always unpredictable. Hope is what keeps you committed to your goals and motivates you to keep going. According to Conti, high-hope individuals conceptualize their goals visibly.  They establish them based on the experience of their past performances. Therefore, hopeful individuals have greater control of how they pursue their dreams because they count on past experience. And are intrinsically motivated to find multiple ways to attain the set goal.

That is why Snyder says that high hope individuals do not react in the same way to barriers as low hope individuals. They conquer by viewing obstacles as challenges to overcome, and use their thought pathway to plan an alternative course to reach their goals. People of high hope are always seeking a way to overcome their obstacle and continue in pursuit of their dream.

Life has no guarantee so don’t give up. Just be wiser and avoid false hope.

In my earlier days, life was a straight and narrow path. Everything was predictable. My talent, skills and other capabilities were all I needed to manifest my dream. I imagined how good life would be to the end. If anyone told me how winding and rugged the way here was, I would have given up a long time ago. My life dream has morphed in many ways because there have been many situations I never envisioned. But I am still on that path, endlessly recreating myself, adapting my strategies and finding different motivation. I am conscious that this original dream manifests,  one day at a time because I am committed to pursue it to the end, regardless of what stands in my way.

I have also learnt the avoidance of false hope. I no longer just hope for something or situation, and believe that it will miraculously manifest. I am not remaining optimistic about things without taking the necessary action or even taking action that will not lead to the desired condition. Life has taught me that my daily thoughts, actions and motivation have to be aligned to my vision. I have to plan, put in the work, and let hope be my companion in the process of pursuing my dream. This combination of aspirational clarity, effort and commitment is the panacea of achieving tremendous success for everyone.

Genuine hope means taking change action when needed.

It demands that you change your strategies when the path to your goal proves difficult. You hoped to have that desired qualification? Plan a new schedule and prioritize space for abandoned part-time studies. You wanted to build an enterprise? Rethink the business model and reconstruct your failing hustle. Was your ambition to be a good parent? Teach yourself modern ways of parenting to close the social distance with your children. And if you wanted to take back your failing health, don’t give up, because there are a thousand ways to do that. Learn new methods to stay fit and live healthier. There is always a more scenic path to get you to your destination of choice.

Remember that you can never have the ability to see the future. Many hurdles will pop up on the path of your aspiration. In the words of peace activist and Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

Keep deepening your well of hope. Find the courage to make tomorrow a better day by doing what needs to be done differently today.

With real hope and persistent action, there will be a good ending, someday.

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Published by Kariuki Mugo

I live cherishing the outdoors, especially green, rugged and watery spaces, but still enjoy the city life. I dedicate in and cherish a family system that provides the foundation for nurturing strong, loving relationships. I trust in thriving communities that provide a better life for everyone, and I am highly committed to creating knowledge. I am a husband, a father, a friend, a development worker, and a teacher to many!

5 thoughts on “A Dream Will Never Blossom Without Genuine Hope”

  1. Beatrice says:

    Nice article! Whatever happened to your beautiful village girl??????????????????

    One of the things i resonate with is being flexible in strategies to achieve what we hope for….often the road to where we hope to be is not as we envision…

    1. Than you very much Beatrice for reading. True, we can only envision where we are, but we should always plan where we want to arrive. Happy New Year to you, and keep reading.

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