Happy Easter, my dear reader! Send me a smoke signal and tell me where you’re reading this from. I’m always curious to know who you are and what makes you tick, what your story is.
I want to call you by your name.
Me? I’ve not been having the best of days: I’m knackered from a busy desk, brittle with emotions and aching for some time off to just be.
Anyway, while I have been pushing myself like a wheelbarrow through these past days, here are three pieces of culture I have indulged in.
What I watched
I watched a documentary on Netflix called ‘Kipchoge: The Last Milestone.’
The documentary is about the story of our Eliud Kipchoge running the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, where he attempted to run a marathon in under two hours. A feat that no human had even done before.
(By the way, a reader called Moses recently schooled me on what a marathon, a half marathon and race is. Moses is a long-distance running enthusiast, he has a lot of authority on the subject of endurance running.
Moses said in his lengthy email, “Bett, a 10K and a marathon are as distant as day and night. A marathon is a 42.195 km or 26 miles, 385 yards road race.
Even more, a 10 kilometer, known in running parlance as 10K, is run on the road and cross country. A 10K done on the track is known as a 10,000 metres race.”
I’m now conscious to never repeat this dismissive rookie mistake again. Thank you, Moses.)
The documentary is shot at Kipchoge’s training camp in Eldoret, then in Monza, Italy, where he first attempted the challenge, and also in Vienna, Austria, where ultimately cracked the challenge.
There are also behind-the-scenes interviews from Kipchoge and his team – his coach and physiotherapist, his pacemakers, the brilliant non-African men and women pulled in by INEOS to play God.
There are some scenes where Kipchoge is speaking in Kalenjin, our beautiful Kalenjin tongue. My goodness, the texture it infused into the storytelling. Argh. I rewound those parts so many times.
The documentary is special to me because on the day that Kipchoge was running the marathon – on October 12, 2019 – I was turning 35.
I always say that this date was not by coincidence, I believe the Universe had sent Kipchoge running to me, to deliver a special message from the Universe, a message about the power of a mind without limits.
What I must admit though, is that after watching the documentary, I saw clearly how they drew from science, technology and engineering to create the almost-perfect conditions that increased the chances of Kipchoge beating the clock and running the marathon in under two hours.
It sort of ruined the magic for me.
What I’m reading
I’m reading two books.
One book is on my Kindle, the other one is a paperback.
The first is a young adult novel by Colleen Hoover, ‘Reminders of Him.’
It’s about a young woman who was sent to prison for the car crash that killed her boyfriend. She was 21 and pregnant when she was sentenced, she gave birth to her daughter while in prison. Her daughter was raised by her late boyfriend’s parents. The woman is now out of prison, she returns to the small hometown to….
You know what, let me not even bother. I’m getting fed up with the juvenile characters and the story, I don’t think any good will come out of reading this book.
I’m also reading Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘David and Goliath’.
He’s as different from Colleen Hoover as a 10K race is from a 42K marathon. (Ha!)
I must mention that GB, my lover, my village chief, introduced me to Malcolm. It took me a hot minute to acquire the taste of Malcolm and his writing but once I did, I never looked back.
Malcolm says, “‘David and Goliath’ is a book about what happens when ordinary people confront giants. By ‘giants’, I mean powerful opponents of every kind.
“Each chapter tells the story of a different person who has faced an outsize challenge and been forced to respond. Should I play by the rules or follow my own instincts? Shall I preserve or give up? Should I strike back or forgive?”
A lot of good will come out of this book.
What I’m listening to
I’m listening to Hillsong Worship songs.
First, a backstory. Our daughter Muna goes to a Christian school. She’s seven. Her school is very big on prayer and the Bible and strong personal values, it’s all incorporated into the curriculum.
Late January, Muna comes home frowning and says, “God is not happy with me.” I ask her, “Why?!”
She sighs. “We don’t pray together as a family every day, we don’t read the Bible, we don’t go to church….”
I felt ashamed. Very ashamed. I never imagined that it would be my little girl who would challenge me to re-examine my relationship with God. With my own heart, my own values.
Now we always listen to Hillsong Worship when driving to church on Sundays. I sometimes listen when I’m working.
The songs are gentle and soothing to the soul.
There are some songs you’ll listen to and you’ll find yourself stewing in a pool of your own tears. And you’ll think to yourself, My goodness, God really does love me. Even if He’s not happy with me, He still blesses me with much more than I ask for.
An edited version of this story first ran in the Saturday Nation on April 8, 2023. It ran under my ‘Culture’ column.9