Lucas Marang'a

A man at 40

Broken Strength.

One of the confirmations that you are on the right track is when your significant others support you. When they give you heavy-duty support as my mum likes putting it. I once read somewhere that, “success is when those who know you the best are the ones who love you the most”. That statement is deep at many levels. We have all encountered the imposter syndrome. We see it often in others and a lot in ourselves. We are yet to find a vaccine for this syndrome so it will be with us for a long time. Though American social reformer, Frederick Douglass may have found a vaccine a long time ago. We just need to get injected. He said he prefers to be true to himself even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false and to incur his own abhorrence.

I think we are afraid of being known by others because we fear that the more, they know us the less loveable we will be. Yet we long to be loved and accepted just as we are. That’s just how we were created. We should all be working towards success. True and lasting success that comes from thriving human relations and not just by material affluence. Though material gain has its place too

My family has accepted the transitions I’m going through. I hope it is voluntary and not by coercion he he. They have given me space to change and seek my true north. Just the kind of support I needed. It means a lot to me when my nearest and dearest join me on this journey. May I remember to return the favor when their time comes. It’s easier to support others through their transitions when you have received the same support because you know what it means. There is a whole chapter in the Halftime program that we run dedicated to how a half timer (someone going through life transitions) can involve their family. That’s because we run the risk of landing in a new space only to find ourselves solo. Purpose is never to be lived alone and if it is then it’s not purpose.

That heavy-duty support was evident in Naivasha last month where I held my first photography exhibition. Mummy shark and our baby sharks tagged along. Of course, the holiday was also a motivation for them. It was a special weekend for me. What touched me the most was how eager my kids were to sell the photos. They stayed up with me till late on the Saturday night as I displayed my work to guests at Enashipai during the Valentine dinner. The cold was biting as we waited to engage the guests passing through the open walkways to the ballroom. My son and his older sister would confidently approach someone looking at a picture and start describing how and where we took it. I would stand behind them as they spoke. I felt so validated as a father. It didn’t matter what battles I was fighting in my mind at that moment. I was a success and the evidence was right in front of me. That those who knew me best loved me the most and they showed it by sticking with me in the Naivasha baridi.

Involving my family in my new pursuits has motivated my daughter to improve her art skills. She’s always liked art and craft. Maybe that’s why she’s picked photography easily.  It’s also a form of art but using light. She attends a painting and pottery class on Saturday mornings. The other day she came home and told me she had done some pottery that had come out well. Sadly, some of it had cracked so she had to leave it behind and give it another go in the next lesson. She finally brought her pots home last week and they were beautiful. Like those handcrafted curios, you see in five-star hotel shops and in upmarket malls selling for a pretty penny. ‘This can pay your school fees mama if we did many and sold them’, I thought.

These pots had been repaired yet they looked perfect. I couldn’t see a crack anywhere. Or some crooked part that needed to be hidden. The visible lines on the pot formed by her hands and the previous cracks added character to her pots. If they were too smooth, they’d look fake. They were perfectly handcrafted. And I’m not saying that because they were made by my child.

That got me wondering why we try so hard to hide our brokenness. We go through life determined to cover our imperfections and spend so much energy trying to fit in this perfect mold that our minds have created. We crave to be loved and accepted and we are yet to love and accept ourselves.

Kintsugi is a Japanese art of taking something broken, like my daughter’s pottery (or in my case a photo whose composition I didn’t like) and then through a mixture of precious metals – silver, gold, or platinum the pieces are put back together. The metals mix well with the clay and they repair the pottery but the brokenness is still visible in the end product. The brokenness forms part of the story in that pot. It is not hidden but enhanced so that the past of the pot is not worn (or hidden) as a scar but displayed as a medal or reminder that we’ve come this far despite what life has thrown at us.

Let us not hide our scars. We get stronger at the cracks. What was once your weakest link can become your strongest ally. Ernest Hemmingway said,” the world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” If you have ever broken a bone you know that sometimes broken bones heal stronger and scar tissue can be stronger than the skin. Seems like even our bodies have a way of reminding us that strength can come out of brokenness.

The best life is the one where we accept our shortcomings, work on improving ourselves, and celebrating small wins along the way.

Friday, March 5, 2021 | Fatherhood, Travels |

4 thoughts on “Broken Strength.”

  1. MG says:

    Awwww this is your most heartwarming piece yet. Thank you for it.

  2. Chris Muniu says:

    Interesting perspective

  3. Lilian says:

    I love this piece. We get stronger at the cracks despite the scars. It encourages me to stay the course of life discoverying and enjoying its beauty despite the brokenness experienced.
    Am reminded of a quote ” broken crayons still color”.

  4. Bonny Ngabirano says:

    Wow this is beautiful and deep! Thanks for the inspiration! Kudos to your daughter….the best is yet to come! Cheers Lucas!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *