Intention Is The Only Way To Lasting Change And Greatness

Success is fine, but success is fleeting. Significance is lasting.

beth brooke

There lived the most muscular man in my village.

He was the king of the most prestigious village arena, the ford. A place where we experienced the joy of our childhood by playing all known kiddish games. Where we learnt to test the power of the human body. Wildly cheered wrestling and boxing bouts were the sure way to settle scores. We tested the sharpness of eyesight by searching silvery coins under the muddy water. We paddled broken plastic basins and boated empty jerricans. We raced, caught, and drowned each other. It was the place where prestige from money, cows and bodies were displayed. New underwear, manhood size, physical prowess, and fighter bull contests. This pool was the place for village show-off. And such an impressionistic venue naturally begets a self-crowned prince.

He was the bravest and most revered person I had ever seen. Whenever he approached the ford, everything changed. The ear-piercing screams slowly simmered, and eventually, the place went dead quiet. The boys he did not like hurriedly jumped out of the waters, grabbed their clothes, and sped away naked. Their tiny things whipping up and down, like an enraged cowherd’s cane. The ones he liked remained behind but stayed clear of the rocky pool. His unwritten rule was known to all boys from both sides of the river. That he never shared the pool without granting permission, and only after a moment of solo splashing. And respect demanded sitting on the stony bank to watch him leisurely strip naked.

He took his sweet time to undress.

Once done, he meticulously folded and stowed away his clothes. Neatly rolling them like a hot massage towel in an uptown beauty spa. Then delicately placing several smooth river pebbles over them. After loudly shouting inane and offensive threats, he proceeded to do his custom pool inspection – a nude catwalk that openly displayed his bushy, overloaded pubis and a ripped upper body. His boastful gait tightened his toned buttocks on every step, leaving us in hysterical stitches.

We sat motionless on the hot stony bank, waiting, clutching to cover our tiny male parts and roasting our bony bums. His humerus had protruding meatballs that seemed to burst whenever he flexed his veined upper arms. He usually curled the stony biceps on special requests from excited boys. And at times, he did so to intimidate lads whose faces hinted a sign of defiance. All the while, we envied his brawny show-off. And sniggered at the gravity of his generous gift in the Garden of Eden.

When done with intro theatrics, he took over the pool.

Carefully selecting the deepest spot and smoothly slinking into the murky water. His first stroke clearly showed why he was the best swimmer the village had ever seen. The chap defied all natural forces and glided across the channel in a mastery fashion. To him, the season never mattered. He always conquered the river, even when the bravest ford master could not dare make his trade. This guy won every drowning contest and speed competition. He was the only person ever known to swim with all his twenty-four ribs above water. At times, he swam the entire afternoon and left the pool with half his body, navel upwards, completely dry.

He was the defender of the village against our enemies across the river. He determined who was to enjoy the pool or not. He controlled poolside barter trade prices, permitted usage and banished oppositionists. He was the dictator of the day and time for bullfights and fistfights. His biggest weakness was frowning at big, uncircumcised boys. He made it difficult in all ways to use the pool by threatening to administer crude, rite of passage actions. This treatment would eventually force them to face the cut or forever give up the fun at the river.

A boy’s presence at the ford was never meant to last.

The pool was meant for growing up. It was the equalizer of all. Because we all swam naked. And there is natural equality in nakedness. It was the place to socialize and discover ourselves and our surroundings.  It provided a safe and momentary escape from constant instructions and the burdensome chores of our overbearing parents. It was the informal learning venue without the ruthlessness of our semi-literate and drunken teachers. The only place the schooling and the unschooling socialized. Both poor and middle-class lads met here. The former coming to fetch drinking water, and the latter, like myself, watering their prestigious zebu and goat herds.

But, there came that point in life when one had to opt-out of this place voluntarily.  A time when the feeling of maturity crept in, and the desire for bodily privacy manifested. When one felt qualified to shift down the river to join the pond of grown-up men. Unlike the rowdy boys’ lido, this mature pool was sacred. No shouting, no recreational swimming. No nude loitering or maleness show-off. Every man was dignified, regardless of what God apportioned them.

This new place oozed with maturity and orderliness. People quietly stripped and washed their clothes while conversing in low, respectable tones. They never splashed. Instead, they squatted on the stones and scooped water on their bodies with two face-up palms. Swinging alternately from left to right until it was time to stand and lather their bodies with crude bar soap. Then they scrubbed hard with natural loafers and knotted strips of torn, white gunny bags. Loudly hissing away the pain of harsh soap lather stinging their eyes. Another squat and palm splash rinsing moment followed. Then, the bath session ended with a quiet drip-drying session.

I can hardly tell how long the king of the ford ruled.

But all I knew was that it was a successful reign that did not last that long. Having left the village for boarding secondary school, my presence at the ford came to an end too. Because leaving the village and occasionally showing up, earned you respect. And that respect meant that your conduct had to be honourable. Like respecting your body by protecting its privacy and ditching all behaviours of uneducated people. Not speaking fluent vernacular by throwing in a few broken English words. And not being seen around unschooled and less travelled people.

All I know is that the guy lost his lustre to several unforeseen forces. The boys who used to revere him grew older and became ten times mightier. In the years that followed, I would look at his scrawny frame and wonder what it was about him that cowered us. The government, too, could not be left behind. It decided to invade his territory and cut him down to size by building a bridge to connect our village to our foes. The rocky banks that warmed our bodies and marked his domain became the humongous mortared foundation for the rustic, trussed bridge. This metallic army bridge spanned right over the pool, making it impossible for anyone to spot a petite, bullish and fame-seeking swimmer. And with that, his power was gone before he mooted a new plan for nourishing his glory. 

Lasting success is what all of us are looking for.

There is no doubt that every one of us is looking for the same thing – everyday happiness and a life that will end with lots of success. That success is defined in many ways. In most cases, we describe it according to the world where we came from—measuring it by what our parents could not afford and what we can. That is why making money is usually the main life objective around us, which I assume emanates from the fear of sinking back into poverty or the desire to compensate for our self-determined inadequacies. Therefore, success in our society is defined by things that we can buy and can be seen by others. Marking it with something like wearing expensive clothes, driving nice cars, living in good neighbourhoods, and such.

Mistake me not! I, too, love to have all those things and still work hard to afford them. However, the reason I wanted to have them a decade ago is different from why I possess them now or crave to get them in the near future. In the past, a visibly successful life was reassuring. It validated that I had moved up the economic ladder. That I was no longer a villager who came from a poor family. Whose only known family wealth was a few bony cows, a bicycle, and a plough. Success meant that I would possess different assets from my father’s and show the ability to afford things that could make people validate my triumph over scarcity.

Unfortunately, the success we usually look for is not our own.

It is what we have been conditioned to believe it is. My definition of success has been pre-determined by the circumstances of my upbringing, like most people I know.  Mostly, the expectations of the people who raised me. What was available or not. What my raisers got and failed to get. What I wanted and never managed to be given. Or even what I envied from others. Today, I may not hinge my desires on my background because I have somehow lost sight of it. However, my definition of success is likely to be determined by my current environment. This pattern of environmental influence can only be changed by choosing to stop and reflect on what success means in a more profound sense.

We all tend to do things that are happening around us. It is our nature to feel comfortable doing what other people are doing and defining it as our life objective. This is because everything looks good from a distance, and copying is less risky than creating. We hunger for sameness when we see good things around other people, things we desire and do not have. That equally applies to those who are looking at our lives from a distance. But when we follow those cravings, we often realize that happiness and satisfaction are not forthcoming because that desired object fails to give us what is exclusively significant in our lives.

Intention is the guiding star to your happy ending.

Every one of us is here on earth to achieve something that is uniquely theirs. It is what is also known as meaning or significance. No one else can define it apart from oneself because every soul determines what quenches its thirst. We all can attain true success and happiness if we seek to find this unique meaning and go for it. If we do something towards getting there, we will find true happiness. Because happiness is not a destination, but the good feeling we get in the journey to our destination. The more we walk the right path to that destination, the more we find success and fulfilment.

I strongly opine that those people who set their intentions correctly in the earlier days of their lives are likely to lead a happy and successful life to the end. Those people purpose to identify what brings more significant meaning in their lives and commit to it. And usually, it is something around making life better for other people and the planet. Whether it is nurturing children, building strong and loving relationships, helping communities thrive, conserving nature, or innovating products and services to solve the world’s most pressing problems. True significance is not what you possess as a person. It is what you do beyond the self. Because that is what connects you to the larger existence. That greater consciousness is what your soul calls home.

Look back and see what intentions you set earlier in your life.

If you did, then you will discover that somehow, your prayers have been answered. And most likely, the intentions that you are setting right now will be granted. Because intentions are not premised on what one can achieve on their own. An intention is encapsulated by surrendering. The act of trusting in the heavens to deliver whatever your heart desires to fulfil it.  But if you did not and are still following wildly shining guiding stars, your past will continue to define you and run your life on autopilot. Your past will continue running your present and haunting your future at the same time.

It is never too late to stop the chase and reflect on what will define your true and lasting success. And from where you came from, you will find the answer. Wayne Dyer said, “With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” This famed motivation guru described intention as an energy that helps a person mentally to create a life they desire. Something that I strongly agree with and connect with.

Learn to live a life of intention. Choose to do what you were created to do and not what was handed down or goes around. Things that help you correct the mistakes of your raisers and define your path. For, in the end, every soul shall account for its own existence.

And only a fulfilled soul can depart without turmoil and rest in eternal peace.

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Published by Kariuki Mugo

I live cherishing the outdoors, especially green, rugged and watery spaces, but still enjoy the city life. I dedicate in and cherish a family system that provides the foundation for nurturing strong, loving relationships. I trust in thriving communities that provide a better life for everyone, and I am highly committed to creating knowledge. I am a husband, a father, a friend, a development worker, and a teacher to many!

One thought on “Intention Is The Only Way To Lasting Change And Greatness”

  1. Ada says:

    Really Inspiring!

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