I have narrowed down the pursuit of a goal or dream for that matter into 3 major stages. From my own experience. The first stage is the ‘Initial conception’ of the dream. For me that was in class six when I toyed with the idea of being a pilot. So that led to the crazy journey that followed i.e. Struggling to join an aviation high school, the surprise, the fun the life… Then came the Air Force… the excitement… the adventure… the disappointment!!! and now this bit. All that I consider my first phase. The pillar of this first phase is knowing at the back of your mind that you have a goal to achieve – #Lifegoals & doing things that you believe will get you there.
The second phase is the most ‘slippery’ and maddest phase of the dream. This is where you have ‘somehow’ achieved a part of your dream and you are still in that stupor. It is not all fun. The fun itself is in the initial period of this “stage” until reality hits. Now for me, this is the time slightly before flying school and, flying school. An important thing to note is that once deep in this stage, there is no turning back. For me, this stage started with my jail thingy, after being dismissed from the Air Force. Either I could whine, or I could move on with life and be the pilot they could not see. I joined flying school. The rest of life stopped for a period here. 7 months to say the least. Besides the excitement, flying school was hectic for me. It was fun and all but nothing else would work. It is at this point that my entire hard work and entrepreneurship bug was crushed up and taken over by the flying bug. This is where I could no longer push deals as strongly as I did before, business ideas were no longer floating; real estate was no longer the piece of cake that I was used to. & something I cannot explain, happened to my writing. Let us not forget the piling mountain of debt that was coming through with this. The point of no return. To reach this point, it has been 9 years and a few months… You cannot waste those years, by pressing the reset button. In any case, that button is jammed permanently. You keep pushing. The burden that comes with it is colossal. The pillars in this stage are people inside your circle in the career. At this point, you need them badly. People in your field of interest. People who can motivate you and get you going and fighting. The likes of Eng. Munyoki, Koome, Gacheri. The endless list of Captains like Ndambiri, Kirai, Mbatia, Masawi, Kang’ethe, my flight Instructors Faraz, Eddy… and many others. Humility is also a very important factor in the search for a mentor/ pillar. Again, they don’t have to know – some you just follow silently. There is another special group of people. My family at the children’s home. Part of this dream is their dream. That is what keeps me moving forward to the next stage. Another major pillar, (Faking it until you make it). Once you go back at this point, frustration eats one up and it leads to a chain reaction of regrets and eventually a life of bitterness.
The third stage is the level that you have been looking forward to. At least for me, this means flying with one of my dream airlines or just flying every day for long hours. Then there is spreading the blessings that come with the dream. Motivating others, helping others up, sharing the story. Living the life of the goal you had all along envisioned and dealing with the damages that were left on the path of achieving this dream. Some of these cannot be repaired but eventually things turn out for the better.
Life is at a critical point, I assume. I have lost total control of most of my life, all I can think of is flying, and matters related. The last time I flew, I logged in 0.4 hrs. It was a bad day for science. It was my first day to fly on a hot day, in the afternoon and the crosswinds, gusts and turbulence were not my favouring me. To avoid a bad flying session, my instructor decided I badly needed to calm whatever demons I carried with me that day. I have never flown that poorly since I started this career. I wore the brokers mask… Guess what happened! No deals. They were the quickest rejections in my pitching history. (I know you will start saying you should have kept going… This was different for me. I just shelved it for later.) Later, I went to the home office to try to fix something up for my blogs… Dry! This is the point I realised life would not be the same again. I was just thinking of that flight and many others before and after that. After every flight, it has always been about how I flew, and what changes I will make tomorrow. & forgiving myself for being a student. These little frustrations pile, & pile, and you practically lose your mind. That is long after you have lost all the weight you could, and the cheeks cannot sink any deeper. As people were declaring their wealth earlier, I was calculating the amount I owe people. I almost went insane! I decided to try something I had not tried to that extent.
Someone claimed I was high in the morning on a certain group and I think it got to my head. Anyway, After 3 hours on the simulator & complaining all the way about my hardware, which I plan to upgrade, by the way, I left the house and headed to the Airport. I considered myself calm, but my heart beat a little faster than usual. I don’t know what the excitement was all about, yet I was stressed to the core and just looking for a thrill. I went to Paul Caffe and sat at a nice spot. A nice spot is one where I have an almost 360 view of what’s around me – in this case, the balcony. Ordered Mocha, retrieved my phone from my pocket, plugged in my earphones and continued with my book. I am currently reading/ listening to Breaking My Virginity by Richard Branson. Audiobooks are nice. They allow you to do other things. In this case, I just needed to see. The people around me, the way they do things, the way the waiters were serving, the cars driving past the café and the like. People watching is an interesting pastime. Occasionally I would look down, check my email and my messages then continue with this ‘Fake an airline pilot’ fantasy in Technicolor. Occasionally I checked my watch and tried to guess the airline that landed and then confirmed with my lovely radar app. In most cases, I was right. Comes with operating next to the runway for three years. This gave me that ‘Oh yeah!’ that encouraged me to keep at this. The café was not biased. People were treated fairly & served promptly. At some point, I lost track of time and came to my senses almost at eleven. I had to go home. My day as an airline pilot in an airport lounge was over.
I did not tip Maryanne. She was really nice and was genuinely concerned that the person I was waiting for never showed up. I told her I had come here for motivation. I also complemented her service and apologized for not being able to tip her then, since I could not afford it. “It’s okay,” she said. “I will make it up next time,” I said. By then the Café was almost empty. Weirdly, traffic at the airport is crazy at this hour. Post air traffic rush hour I figure, that ‘spills’ everyone at almost the same time. I crossed over to the other side to the public service vehicles. Of course, there was none at that hour. 11:30Pm. I could not afford a cab to the highway – leave alone home. I asked myself “What would Branson do?” I chose Branson because he is my role model. I was almost walking to the police a few metres away then I remembered it is not a month since I left a cell in one of their police stations up-town. Apparently most don’t like green books. I remembered I was an airline pilot. Here were several bus services chattered for airlines that were picking crew to their respective destinations. Then my angels appeared – a gent and two ladies. I have a jacket that I received as a gift by Young. I refer to it as the spy jacket since it has a secret zip-on sleeve that runs from one side round the neck and to the other side. It zips up and appears like a shirt and the top part of the jacket looks like a three button coat. I looked decent enough except for my hair and beard to convince them that I was a pilot.
I innocently asked whether there were any other means of transport from this place to the city, besides the cabs. They said there wasn’t. I asked what it took to get into their shuttles and they said the job ID. It was actually hard and you couldn’t just hitch hike. Luckily, I had my Student Pilot License and I planned to use this as my back up in case things did not work out.
“Excuse, Naitwa Chris, Is there a way I can get out of this place beside using taxis?”
“Yeah, matatu” said the first lady.
“I thought matatu ni hadi saa mbili?” I asked
“Kwani ni saa ngapi!” … “Waaaa! Enyewe ni late!” Said the first lady.
The second one was scrutinizing me. Everything almost added up except for my hair, which I think I will shave. I also think they had a nice day, they were too nice to this stranger.
“How do your shuttles operate?” …“Naweza ulizwa nikiingia?”
Lady 2: “apana wewe ingia tu”
Lady 1: “But kuna mwanamke mwingine hapo mkali ata sisi yeye hututoa kwa viti asubuhi”
Guy: “Wewe twende tu pamoja usijali.” “Ama umpatie sweater?”
I asked the guy where he was from and he said he uses Outer Ring road too and I figured then we were in the same boat. He would guide me through this.
“Ata ndio ile basi!” “Twendeni”
In single file, the ladies led the way. I followed and the guy came back after me. Franky speaking, in my three years of residing & working in Embakasi, this was the most down to earth group of Pride Center alumni I have ever related with. So they helped me board the bus & calmed my jumpy nerves. Confidence-wise that is. Nobody asked me who I was. Weirdly, I never learnt the names of the three nice people. I never even considered reading their tags & I am usually the best at this! We talked about work, most marketable courses at Pride Centre, and how it’s easier for guys to achieve, maintain and rise in cabin crew jobs easier than ladies nowadays, we discussed their shifts and we even talked about waking up at odd hours in the morning. I told him I am a student pilot but could not tell him where and what I was doing at JKIA at that time of the night in such a short time. He asked where I was headed and I told him Umoja, but I would be okay with anywhere as long as I am outside JKIA. He went ahead to tell me that the bus would be taking us to area 2 or what did he call it? Where people would board their respective vans to take them to their doorsteps. They were labelled with their respective routes. He made sure I got into one that would drop me at Taj Mall. From there I would find my way home.
Remember Security Guards and Flight Attendants,? A van like this approached us at the gate where I was working back then. The only difference with this one was that the occupants were very humble, jovial and accommodating. After requesting to board, they pointed a seat and asked me to feel at home. At home I felt for sure. So there I sat in a crew van feeling like a boss. A pilot boss who is yet to get her own car but using the company’s shuttle until it arrived. The dreams are valid. Saying that I smiled all the way from JKIA to Taj Mall is an understatement. I was elated! It was a nice, warm feeling in my heart and I forgot my immediate troubles like the debts whose deadlines were closing in on me, CRB warnings that are long overdue. And the big pause that is life from the flying perspective. They told interesting stories. Nobody cared who I was. They just thought I was one of them and it all went fine. Sharing a shuttle plying your neighbourhood route is awesome I think and you get to know each other on a more personal level.
They were surprised when I told them I would be alighting at Taj.
“Mbona sasa!?” “Si ungepanda tu ya Umoja?”
“Apana!” “Mimi ni hitchhiker, nimeomba lift…”
“Ngoja basi akishamaliza route yetu atakudrop.”
“Ni sawa tu haina shida, niko sawa. Nashukuru hadi hapo.” “I understand the Umoja Van is always over capacity na sikuwa nataka embarrassing moments…”
No way would I be asking a favour as outrageous as that after getting one that was clearly against protocol. I figured.
They all burst into a laugh. The lady seated next to me was perturbed I would be connecting two matatus at this hour… If she only knew! Darkness & I are partners. I again expected someone to ask who I was… Nobody did. I felt accepted and at home with my kind. I was peaceful. Enough peace to help me concentrate on successfully graduating from stage two…
Dream on Captain!