A standard measure of a mans’ worth is the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The closer one reaches the top of this pyramid the more accomplished or fulfilled they are. As one completes the five levels the more whole they are posited to be or feel.
The first level or the foundation encompasses physiological needs. These are physical requirements for human survival, which if not met the human body cannot function properly and will ultimately fail. These needs are approximately or fundamentally nine in total and include oxygen, water, nutrition, sleep, sex, warmth, excretion, mobility, and pain.
The next level is environmental needs. Growing up there were a lot of empty plots of land around our neighborhood which were adversely occupied. We tended to convert this lots to our playing grounds, and since they weren’t fenced off yet, I could join adjacent estates’ children in playing football. Sometimes we had access to the Adidas 1970 world cup Telstar design inspired leather bound sphere football replica but more often than not we would wrap newspapers into a globe then envelope it in a plastic paper bag or two and just for good measure tie a string around it in a mesh style fashion squeezing the contents so tight the object could roll in a straight line and actually bounce.
The middle passage of this strata ranking is social needs. As a Kenyan, a majority of your childhood was spent in prison-like institutions called schools. In my particular penitentiary, intermittent breaks of academic learning were spent kicking soda cans and plastic bottles around in a game of pseudo football when an actual football was not available. We couldn’t carry a proper leather one to school since the older boys would deprive us of it and our parents would whip us if it got stolen or lost plus ultimately our innovative polythene bound orbs were banned by the principal.
We had variations of the beautiful game such as the one-touch, where if you scored by kicking the ball once you faced a new opponent, any more than one stroke and you were disqualified paving the way for a new contestant in your stead. Of course, some of the popular kids would get to break the rules but how they arrived to be so high in the pecking order is open for discussion.
Self-esteem is the penultimate stage, and I was lucky enough to have never had an acne breakout during puberty in the meantime gaining a deep bass in my voice in the process. My adolescent years were spent perfecting a three-point shot on the basketball rim my elder brother had fastened to a Jacaranda tree I had hoped my father would build a tree house for me on. At the only basketball court in my town, I always managed to reach 7 points in a game of 21, when men twice my age had to sit out the rest of the play for not doing the same once the leading scorer reached 11 points. My strategy since I was small was to get the ball, shoot from outside the D, after which I would sink the first free throw earning two more points then choose to either score one more point with the second free throw or violently slam the ball against the board in the hopes I could recapture it outside the D for another attempt at a three-point shot for an additional two points plus the requisite two free throws earning one point each bringing a total of five to eight points.
I took up swimming fervently in high school until the pool was drained and the renovations took more than a couple of months. I remember standing in the deep end of the empty abyss, eyes closed, imagining the natatorium filling up with water lifting me up. A hairline fracture I neglected under my right knee limited my professional athlete career although such an excuse didn’t stop polio-ridden right-winger and forward by the name Manuel Francisco dos Santos alias Garrincha from winning the world cup for Brazil in 1958. Perhaps it’s my lack of discipline that’s to blame. My tardiness to school ensured I ran a kilometer three days a week as punishment plus my annual valentine’s day ritual of a thousand sit-ups keeps me fit. One of the many older girls I’ve dated who’ve witnessed my sporting prowess used to tease me on how dirty I was in the lower primary by evening after a day of scrimmage football. I pray the athletic gene traits I’ve been told I possess are passed onto my future generations.
Currently, I’ve taken up cycling and will resume training on my 15-speed mountain bike once I purchase new tires to achieve at least 50km in one and a half hours. I will reward myself with a ‘700’ race bike with 27 gears or more that I see on tour-de-France. I plan to do this and participate in the tour-de-Machakos before it becomes an elitist event needing millions of dollars sponsorship from multinational corporations.
The final and highest phase is transcendence, where one becomes too much associated with excellence in a field that they inspire others to be of the same caliber, even if it’s not on the same genre of practice. This because success has a generic trait of sacrifice and postponement of gratification, in layman terms: no pain, no gain. Cristiano Ronaldo is an icon who at the age of twelve left his Madeira hometown for Lisbon city thousands of kilometers from friends and family. Two decades later he has won every major trophy and award bar one, the world cup. Mayhaps in a fortnight from now this statement won’t be, but nonetheless, with his Spartan-like livelihood, I won’t be surprised if he graces our screens and grass on the pitch in Qatar and America. As with all racehorse champions, we shall retire him to pasture as a pedigree stud. FORZA PORTUGALE!
Via Sir Alan.