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The Driver's Seat | Blog


Would you scoot over and allow me in my driver’s seat?

For most of my life, I have lived away from my hometown, Mombasa. The longest I spend in it is just a few weeks a year. While there on holidays, I have always been dependant on family to get to places and I was always accompanied. Why you ask? Well, Mombasa is a mysterious city which spreads far and wide with so many different streets and alleys.

You find the Indian Ocean spreading all over, with its bridge separating it from the rest of the city, the ferry on one side and the old and new towns. Mombasa is nothing compared to Nairobi or Malindi, it is an ocean in itself, full of mysteries and hidden gems. I’m bound to get lost if I am to go out to venture on my own! Well, that’s what I thought of the great Mombasa till a few days ago.

My friend, Mariam and I, decided to go out for lunch, we are both very new to the city. While Mariam was brought up in Nairobi, I was brought up in different parts of the world. Getting her husband to agree to allow us to drive his car took us hours of persuading but being women who are great at the art of convincing, we managed to get it our way. I hopped into the driver’s seat and we were ready for an adventure, we were going out for lunch to Nyali - a prominent area that always seemed too far away. 

As I got in the car, I reminded myself to stick to the left lane and to follow (or not) the traffic signals. To my disappointment, we arrived at our destination in less than 10 minutes! That was too soon for my appetite; I wasn’t hungry and hadn’t explored the city enough to settle for Nyali, so we decided to go to Tudor, in our minds, another far off area but yet again, Tudor was another disappointment.

No longer intimidating once you take the "driver's seat".

I don’t remember what we ate that day, but I do remember the shock I had found myself in. Mombasa had suddenly turned into a version of Malindi in my eyes - a small city that didn’t intimidate me anymore. I suddenly felt so in control, so empowered. 

Too often in life we travel by following blindly, we travel life waiting to be informed by others and expecting guidance from others. When will it be time to get into the driver’s seat of our own lives and take control? The people who guide are guiding on trial and error themselves. Life really isn’t as mysterious as people make it out to be. It’s easier dealing with the consequences of your own decisions than the consequences of others’ decisions about your life. 

Allah subhanahu wa taala says “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” Suratul Rad 13:11. Change begins from within and taking control and charge of one’s own affairs is a big step in assuring taking up responsibility of one’s actions. 

I have always wondered who gave the first professor a degree before there was a professor. Consider breaking the norm every once in a while, test the waters and be innovative with your thoughts and actions. Henry David Thoreau famously says “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

You see, on the day of judgement, Allah subhanahu wa taala will question you about your actions and your decisions, not your family member’s, father’s, mother’s or elder’s. So if someone is currently in the driver’s seat of your life consider asking them to scoot over, put on an L(earner) sign on your windscreen and enjoy the ride!

photo credit: Will Cyr (feature image) naeem.ebrahimjee (inline image)


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