Over the weekend I encountered a very interesting taxi driver. Young guy very inquisitive. When I hailed the taxi on the app and I called the driver, I was met with a very pleasant voice on the other end of the phone. I provided directions to my pick up location which he found with ease.
I approached the car through the passenger side window, I confirmed it was the driver, Michael, he nodded and let me in the car. When I hopped into the vehicle we exchanged pleasantries to which I confirmed my destination. He asked me which route I preferred we agreed and off we went. About 30 seconds into the commencement of my ride, he asked “would you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
“Are you running a survey of some kind?” I inquired.
“No, I just like understanding how humans think and see the world,” Michael clarified.
“Sure no problem, ask away.” I replied.
“Are you happy?” Michael started.
That question made me smile. It is such a simple question but extremely loaded.
“ I don’t believe in happiness because I believe it is temporary. I can say I am joyful. Joy comes from within and it’s something you work towards. Are you happy?” I responded.
“ I can say I am 60% happy.” Michael retorted
“ Why 60%?” I was curious, that was such a specific number.
“ You know we all want material things, so I don’t feel like I am there yet.” Michael’s response reminded me of how I think sometimes and the reality for most of us. Conventional success of a nice house, acreage of land, a car and so on are deemed to be what makes us successful. I recall during a mentorship session in 2010, Shout out to Pastor BX, where he asked us in a session about what determines success.
Is having 300,000 shillings in the bank success, or is it never having to worry about another bill again, or is it owning a huge shopping mall, or jet setting the world living out of your suit case and only spending time with your loved ones two weeks a year success? These are varied forms of what different people term success. What I realised in my mentorship sessions with Pastor BX was the need to start defining what success means to me. No one can do that by you.
You will be enveloped in an environment with different definitions of what success really is, but ultimately, for your sanity, and for your self determination as a human, you need to find out what success is for you. And build that life. I know it sounds easier said than done, but one thing I have realised about working towards my definition of success, is you need to know what it is, break it down into categories; family, spiritual, financial, relationships etc and deliberately and steadily work towards it. It is a marathon not a sprint.
As my drive with Michael continued, he kept asking me questions, when I would stop to think he would remind me what he told me at the beginning.
“At any point of this conversation, if you are uncomfortable with any question I ask, you can say so and you don’t have to respond.”
Then I would remind him, I was thinking and I was fine with the question. I loved it because it was so unique. A taxi driver asking questions and seeming to care about my humanity. This was amazing.
Here’s a list of q few more questions he asked me . I can’t remember the exact order he asked them, but you should get the gist.
- Do you have any regrets?
- What is the biggest lesson you have learnt in life?
- What’s one mistake you have made?
And the last question which I recall him asking that stuck with me was this:
- If you were God for a day [ insert your name here] what three things would you grant yourself?
I challenge you to ask yourself these questions. Improving your quality of life I have learnt is through introspection. Ask yourself these questions, initially they may be hard to answer, because it requires complete honestly with yourself. Write the answers down in a notebook and revisit them from time to time to see if you have evolved from your initial answer.
Through our conversation I would ask him the same question he asked me and he would respond and share anecdotes of responses from other clients he has carried and their varied responses. Through that he has served as a rudimentary counsellor to young men about to attempt suicide and married men dealing with life-changing medical conditions they are not sure how to disclose to spouses they were unfaithful to.
We all need someone to talk to, to listen to us in a non-judgmental way to help us navigate life. Life is a journey of partnerships; friends, family, therapists, mentors. Sometimes we are struggling because we don’t have supportive family or friends.
From personal experience, there is always someone who in some chance situation, willing to hear you out, and not judge you. Don’t suffer in silence, you need to talk to someone, even if it is just an inquisitive taxi driver like Michael.