The Kenya Forum | 45 Cycles Around the Sun - The Kenya Forum

April 29, 2023


As I take my 45th cycle around the sun, this article makes even more sense to me than it did when I
first read it.

More by Mona Ombogo

45 Cycles Around the Sun

45 Cycles Around the Sun

Mona Ombogo

It must have been at least a decade ago, when I read this article that took the world by storm, ‘Wear
Sunscreen.’ At the time, my life wasn’t really going according to plan. I say this tongue in cheek,
what I really mean is, my life was hell. On the brink of a divorce, chasing a career dream as a writer
that didn’t want to get caught, and a bank account that wasn’t accounting for much. You get the
drift. Things were hard. Then I read ‘Wear Sunscreen’ by Mary Schmich, published in the Chicago
Tribune (1997).

In it is her advice to the youth, her version, she jokes, of a commencement speech. Using ‘wear
sunscreen’ as her rallying call, she talks about embracing and enjoying the power of youth, which is
wasted on the youth. She’s quirky, pithy and profound. I took away a lot from Ms. Schmich.
My paraphrased summary: You’re not as fat as you think you are. If worry is all you have, you might
as well chew bubble gum. You can’t control the future; you may get married, you may not. You may
get divorced; you may celebrate your 75 th anniversary doing the chicken dance. Friends will come
and go. Hold on to the ones who have your back. Your siblings too. Spend time with your parents
while you can.

As I take my 45th cycle around the sun, this article makes even more sense to me than it did when I
first read it. She was right — youth wasted and all that. But — I do wear sunscreen. So, I thought, let
me attempt paying this forward. Maybe someone else will one day say, I read this article by Mona
Ombogo ten years ago…

Here goes…
Enjoy at least one delicious cocktail a month, cocktails are the epitome of the sweet spot of life.
Surround yourself with good people, a Tribe. Make it layers deep; because you can never get
everything you need from one soul. If you try, you will break whatever you have.

In your tribe cocktail, include the person that listens to you rant, without judgement. The one you
laugh at others with. The one who is daring enough to venture out to distant cities and get gloriously
lost in a place where neither one of you speaks the local language.

Have someone you can cry with. Someone you can drink under the table, or vice versa.
Someone who has been there from the start. Someone who will be there till the end. Someone who
will keep your secrets, no matter what. If you’re lucky, some of these will be your siblings. But even
if they are not, family is made, not born.

Allow yourself to be admired by strangers, male or female. Sometimes people don’t want anything,
they just think you’re beautiful. Take it.
Be kind to those in service. Remember they are not allowed to be rude to you, even when you’re
rude to them. Don’t add to the list of those who make their day long. Add to the list of those who
remind them that happy people live in the world.

Be helpful, go out of your way when you have the ability to do good. Good does come back. Good
deeds don’t get punished; they get rewarded.
You can never outgive the Universe. So give.

When you look at others and think they are greater than you, most times, they are not. They are
simply doing their thing. You have no idea what demons they fight to present how they present.
Stop diminishing yourself. They too look at you and admire what you bring to the table. And when
you’re invited to that table, don’t sit under it.

I got that particular statement from a friend, pick statements from yours. The world’s greatest
wisdom is not always found in the worlds acclaimed resources. It’s found in nuggets shared around a
campfires, over a cocktail or a glass of wine. Listen. Remember. Pay it forward.

When your friend calls you in the middle of the night, pick up. Maybe it’s an emergency. Or maybe
they just need a friendly voice. Maybe they are celebrating something. Maybe you are what stands
between them and despair. “People never forget how you made them feel” — Maya Angelou.
Don’t hold onto people who won’t hold onto you. Let them go, Sis. Let them go, Bro. You think you
won’t survive it. You will do more than that, you will thrive. Because no one ever created a
masterpiece hanging onto someone else’s view. And you are that masterpiece. Choose you.
And allow others to choose themselves, even if that means not choosing you.
Go away often. Alone. Remember who you are. Should you not like what’s in the mirror — recreate
it. Gently.

You will never be happy with your body until you are happy with your body. Be happy with it today —
– and then improve it if you must. If you’re kind to your body now, it will be kind to you later.
Be careful who you let into your inner most sanctum. Those who truly belong there never try to get
there. It just happens. That’s how you know the difference; if they are trying too hard, most times
they don’t belong with you. Or you with them.

Be selfish. Fasten your oxygen mask first. You can’t save anyone if you’re suffocating yourself. Take
the time you need to be better, only then can you do better.
If a man tells you he doesn’t love you, believe him. He wouldn’t risk saying it if it wasn’t true. Should
he change his mind, he will come back to you. “It’s not your job to fix what he broke.” – Matthew

If a woman tells you she loves you, believe her. She wouldn’t say it if she didn’t mean it. Her love
may not be perfect, but it’s what she has to give, when she gives it.
Allow him to buy you a glass of wine. Or beer. Sometimes a gesture of kindness is offered just
because it can be offered. Not everyone has an ulterior motive. In fact, the world is full of good
people. Be open to meeting them.
Save. Truly. There are many rainy days in a lifetime.
Write things down. You will stumble upon them again when you need them the most. Those rainy

It will all be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end. See, another idiom from a friend.
Above and beyond all this — live. Live now. Now is all there is. The rest is speculation.
And yes — do wear sunscreen, while enjoying that cocktail.


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