How contented are you with your life?


We yearn for what we don’t have, but the moment we get it, we start yearning for what we had before.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

A weekend ago, a friend had me rolling on the ground in laughter after describing a metamorphosis her soon-to-be six-year-old son has gone through within a year.

A couple of months ago, whenever she brought her son snacks when she came home from work in the evening, the boy would rush to their living room window, fling it open and yell out to his small army of friends who lived downstairs, (they live on the third floor), to make their way up as fast as their small legs could carry them because his mum had brought him nice things to eat.

“Akina Jayden, kujeni, biscuit na mum ameniletea maqueen cake…!” he would scream.

Within seconds, many pairs of feet would be heard pounding the stairs on their way up to house number nine and within seconds, everything she had bought her son, and which she had hoped would last a day or two, would be gobbled up.

Most children at that age are usually skinny and hers was no exception. Each time this friend visited her ushago, her mother would dramatically put her hands on her head and ask her, sounding shocked, why she wasn’t feeding her son yet she herself had a padding that only plenty of food could trigger.

As you can imagine, my friend was under pressure from her judgmental mother to fatten up her son by the time they visited again later that year. But her son’s friends, of course, were thwarting her desperate efforts to add him some flesh.

One day, weary of feeding all the neighbourhood boys almost every evening, yet their mothers were quite capable of doing it, she cautiously asked her son why he shared everything she bought him with his many friends.

“But they’re my friends…” he protested.

She wisely decided to leave it at that since children have the tendency to embarrass you at the least inopportune moment. She pictured the small boy announcing, during a gathering of neighbourhood friends, how she had warned him against sharing his food with their children and shuddered.

She would become a pariah and her son would probably stop getting invited to neighbourhood parties. You all know how vicious adults can be. She figured that it would be less painful dealing with her mother’s accusing stare later that year.

And then it all changed. Sometime last year, her son stopped calling his friends to partake of the snacks his mum hoped would fatten him up. To her horror, whenever one of his friends comes to visit and he is in the process of eating something he especially likes, he puts it away and explains to his mother that the friend knocking will end up eating it all.

“All I had wanted was for him to put on a bit of weight, now he’s becoming mean,” she concluded her story, looking anxious, announcing that she was now on a frantic mission to get her son, who is still thin despite her efforts, to start sharing again.

I laughed and told her that this was further from the truth, that children, like all human beings, go through a metamorphosis, and that just because her son had moved from sharing everything with his buddies to sharing a fraction of it did not mean that he would become a selfish adult.

Anyway, that funny story was an apt example of the dissatisfaction many of us struggle with. We yearn for what we don’t have, but the moment we get it, we start yearning for what we had before. Wouldn’t it be liberating to be contented with what we have even as we work towards what we want to have?

The writer is editor, Society and  Magazines, Daily Nation.   Email: cnjunge@