What you need to know:
- I am not always a brave man. Sometimes I cower out, and file it under “taking the high road”
The year is 2017. There is someone looking for a comedian to co-host a live show. I know I am funny, and girls have let me know that, especially when I ask them to pay the bill.
How do you tell people you think you’re funny? Funny. I always wanted to be famous for my funniness. Well, in the end, I got it. I got a lot of things in my rise to stardom. Women. Respect. That joke about my small penis. Can't believe I never got that before. I had an opening line, and though my friends proposed me, I kiboshed every effort, hiding in the back, wanting it but expecting life to just hand it to me. I don’t know how my life would have turned out if I showed up for myself, if I took that chance that day, if I said I wanted the things I want, if I agreed that indeed, this is my nature. What’s that thing they say about fortune favouring the bold?
Fast forward. 2022. Someone’s daughter has taken me on a date in one of those mushrooming chic restaurants in CBD, the streets are empty, just how I like it—in case I run into a half-remembered jilted ex. We walk in, and pick a spot where we can engage in Nairobi couples’ favourite activity: gossiping and judging other couples who look like they are a). either cheating or b). being cheated on. Mostly both. Why else would they be in Nairobi when everyone else has gone to ushago? While we get comfy, a waiter saunters in, says our seat is reserved, and puts a ‘reserved’ sign. Normally, I comport myself within social rules, my inner monk humming and buzzing, but not today. I am spoiling for a fight. The lady on my arm on the other hand is not having it. She insists we leave. We do. But that scenario still plays in my mind. I should have been braver. I should have stood up. I should have said what was on my mind.
I am not always a brave man. Sometimes I cower out, and file it under “taking the high road”. But I know what I am doing—I am running away. That’s the thing. We spend our lives running away from ourselves until our selves catch up. There is a lot of hype about taking the high road, but have you seen the price of fuel lately?
Admittedly, bravery and courage and faith are in the small things. We like to live in our comfort zone, and only through life-altering events do we change, especially as men. Like losing a loved one. Getting fired. Heartbreak. You remember the one.
I don’t know what you are afraid of, but I want to tell you, from my own experience, summa cum laude, true living is on the other side. I am a Taurus, which means I am hedonistic to a T, some girls would even go as far as to mention I am a red flag (but that’s only because bulls like red), but that’s beside the point.
I also speak facts fluently. And here’s a fact, sometimes you have to accept the well, erm, fact that things will never go back to the way they used to be. I know men who are still living their lives in the good ol’ times of 2020 BC (Before Corona), refusing to acknowledge that the world has shifted without them. I know of men who, good intentions notwithstanding, still speak of how things used to be. But things never go back to the way they used to be, do they? Life happens. Life changes. My peers are biting the dust, okay—getting married at an alarming rate.
Most have a child or two stashed somewhere. Adulting. The easy choice would be to cut them off, but the best thing would be to be brave and face the world as it is, not as I wish it to be. The only mistake we make in life is refusing to deal with the hard parts. And that’s like thinking the stripper likes you. Wake up man! Can’t you see? The world is moving, and it’s moving without you.
The only thing scarier than accepting who we are is accepting that we don’t know who we will be when we let go of the things that have made us who we are today.
Me? I am afraid. Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing anything at all? As life comes into sharper focus, I notice spending more time looking in the rear view mirror than the windshield. Have I achieved enough? Have I done enough? Am I enough? But I take courage, I choose to be bold, to live a brave life. Admittedly, it’s not easy. Colouring out of the line, stepping on toes, going commando.
And I have discovered something else too. I hate denying myself things, I loathe craving or needing or wanting. Denial, in truth, is the source of all evil. And simple desires can mutate into dark complex obsessions. I want to do what I want to do. Read me my rights, express your concerns but let me figure it out for myself. Like a filament in a bulb, courage is not the light but it is there at a crucial moment to give the light a place to burn.
Most of us tend to live our lives as second-class citizens, seemingly laissez-faire and passengers in our own lives. We are content with the hand we have been dealt, never willing to push the envelope, to go beyond the realms of our minds. For the majority of society, that’s fine. But for men, it is imperative to be more than just your name tag. We need people who will dare to speak the unspeakable, defend the indefensible, to be brave and force us to question, question, question. You can take it. Can’t you?
I’ll tell you one more story. But this time’s not mine. It’s a Robert Louis Stevenson story of young boys who form a secret club of “lantern bearers,” hiding small tin lanterns under their heavy coats as a secret emblem of participation. Prima facie, they look like anyone else moving through the night. Only when they meet each other do they lift the edge of their coats to reveal a hot burning light hanging from a belt loop. That’s how life is. We pass each other every day, never seeing the other’s acts of courage, or ambitions.
Life happens to all of us. We forget our dreams. We give in to the doubts. We accept others’ truths as our own. People say things and the human tongue is a beast that few can master. It stokes fires. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will turn wild and cause you grief. If you cannot be brave, then stand not in the way of a brave man.
On my upper inner left bicep, I have tatted the cartoon anvil of ‘Courage the Cowardly Dog.’ Not because courage was the bravest dog. As far as fearlessness goes, he was always scared. Courage actually gave me the courage to watch the entire episode without feeling scared. He was only a dog and he knew how to handle s**t and save the day. He faced life head-on.
And if you are asking if I got to perform my stand-up comedy, I did. What’s more, I have another one slated this year. Of course, you are invited. It’ll be funny, as long as you pay your own bills.