There is a time I was travelling in a matatu from Nairobi to Nyeri; a distance of approximately a hundred miles. The darkness was sneaking in like a thief. It seems that this progressive time lapse troubled the driver a great deal. Drivers plying the route were forced to switch on their vehicles’ headlamps. This is wise as a change in time demands a change in strategy.
The traffic was heavy; a long, serpentine snarl-up. On numerous occasions, the driver would peer into the lane of oncoming vehicles, swerve into it, floor the gas pedal and overtake several vehicles before veering back. The noise of a revving engine would wake me up from a little slumber and a little folding of my hands. At this point, I stretched my neck to survey the horizon. This kind of action is somehow reflex action. My subconscious mind wanted to be sure that peril was not within site. Apparently, this kind of overtaking can make one jittery. Thus it will not be an exaggeration to say that butterflies were making rounds in my stomach. On the other hand, the petrol-head in me was falling in love with this game. Any petrol-head can confirm that the sound of floored gas pedal is a source of immeasurable elation. I don’t mean the sound of the misfiring STI Impreza, but rather the smooth acceleration of a Mitsubishi Evo or a Germany car.
‘Is this driver courageous or stupid?’ I would ask myself. ‘What if he comes against another equally courageous/stupid driver?’
I love the thrill of speed. Correspondingly I love life too. I would only do that when am alone. The rate at which the speedometer needle is moving will not be alarming as long as am alone in that car. I think it is not wise to indulge some appetites at the expense of the tranquility of people around us. It is better to ask ourselves if something we are about to do will be palatable to people around us. Managers call this emotional intelligence. Paul in Romans advises us to be mindful of other people’s feelings.
Back to the matatu driver. Was he a risk taker, or plain stupid? I don’t know. The point is that he managed to get us out of the traffic gridlock in no time. He was not only risking our lives but breaking the law too. This was the box matatu, which is the fifth generation, 3000CC, turbo-charged Toyota HiAce. Toyota engineers claim that the van can dispatch the 0-100KM in just nine seconds. That is fast compared to the fourth generation vans, but sluggish when pitted against other vehicle brands on Kenyan roads.
Ecclesiastes 10:8 states, “When you work in a quarry, stones might fall and crush you! When you chop wood, there is danger with each stroke of your ax! Such are the risks of life” (NLT). Every action in life carries a certain level of risk. We cannot escape this reality.
Jesus reminded us that one of the greatest mistakes we can make is to play it safe with our lives. He said, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you’ll lose it.”
Life is a series of risk taking. There comes a time when you have to cross a swollen river, climb a steep hill, pass through a winding road, cross dangerous jungles and traverse wilderness. We decide either to stagnate or move forth.
However, this does not mean we throw caution to the wind. It does not suggest we become irrational.
Take risks, albeit wisely. Take them again, albeit with prudence.