I dug for it intently. There was no shovel involved. I was neither exerting myself nor bent over next to a mound of earth. There were no drops of sweat to wipe off my brow and no dirt under my fingernails. I was in bed leaning against a pillow, laptop on lap, phone in hand. It was a dig synonymous with the times. A digital dig? Possibly.
I sat for an obscene amount of time, head bent in cell phone prayer, stalking scrolling through an Instagram feed. Oh how I scrolled. I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled some more. I’ll know it when I see it, I kept saying. My long-suffering thumb bore the brunt of my obsessive search. Rats! I couldn’t find it even after scrolling down to the first ever post.
I resumed my work. I looked for it twice more, unsuccessfully. The day was almost over when I finally found it. What helped me know where to look was remembering the period I first saw it and why it appealed to me so much. It was an excerpt from Khaya Dlanga’s journal when he was 20.
“I believe this to be true for anyone who wants to achieve anything in life: never accept reality as an end. If we only ever face reality as an end; if we only ever face and accept our current difficulties, our reality, then we are doomed. It is imperative that I live inside my head, a world that is not realistic. By that I mean believing in a truth that isn’t yet. But a truth that nonetheless which I will create in the future. One must face reality and the facts, but even more important is pointing out the reality that WILL BE to yourself. When someone says, ‘Face reality,’ they are telling you to forget your dream and what you know you want to do with every single fiber of your being, they are telling you to forget that you know you can do it even though it’s damn hard at the time. I choose to answer in the following manner, ‘Yes, I will, but I choose to face, to create the future reality that I want, not the one you want me to.’ And refuse to subject myself to the narrow present reality.”
Rather deep for a 20-year-old ey? I certainly was not brimming with this kind of wisdom at 20. I digress. Khaya Dlanga is easily one of the most interesting people I follow on Instagram. He’s a senior executive at Coca-Cola South Africa. Never met him. That’s about all I know about the man. He mentioned, when he posted this excerpt from his journal, that when he wrote it he was “going through an intensely difficult period (including being homeless for a few months).” The tough times, he said, lasted a few years.
What helped me remember where to look for the quote was that when I first saw it (about five months ago), I was struggling with several uncertainties. Also, the World Cup had recently come to an end (and my team lost, sigh) which meant that it had to be sometime around the end of July. For most of last year and more so towards my graduation in August, I had been wondering whether my choice for a master’s degree was a prudent decision. Please refer to my previous post for context. What would I do with this seemingly obscure qualification once I graduated? Where would I work in this area of study that was so poorly understood even by those in the mental health field in Kenya? I was also pretty broke, with zero savings and paying for a huge part of my school fees with a loan from my parents. Would I even find work that I could make a decent living from?
In addition, I was working (and still working) with individuals who have literally had the rug pulled out from under them in the most brutal of ways – refugees. After experiencing the tragedies of war, here they were, impoverished and living with a great deal of uncertainty in a land that is growing increasingly hostile towards them. How difficult it must be for them to look beyond their reality! I was struggling to look beyond their reality.
Khaya’s (I think we should be on a first name basis by now) quote speaks of a quality I greatly admire – a stubborn resolve to keep on despite the odds. It speaks of hope. It also speaks of something so dear to me; something I feel I cannot live without. Something without which, it is impossible to please God biblically speaking (Hebrews 11:6) – faith. Never accept reality as an end. My reality is quite different now. I will refer you to my previous post yet again for context. I should stop here before I get on a pulpit and break into song. My intention was to share a quote that I have returned to again and again and why it moved me. I’d love to hear yours.