Sunday, March 17, 2013

Go Outside and Play Before Life Passes You By

"I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of
owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of
years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
So they show their relations to me and I accept them,
They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their
I wonder where they get those tokens,
Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop them?"
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself: Part 2 (32).

Comment: I went to bed last night gnarled in disgust at the prospect of yet another Sunday without electricity and water when the sun rose.

The dreaded notice came via an email forward from a kind friend who knows I hate forwards of any kind.

The forwarded email let me know that the municipality and the idiots who run it can ruin any semblance of a day of rest and homely retrospection.

I have over the years since my return to Kimberley watched the water that is so scarce in this semi-desert region seep incessantly through the walls of the main municipal reservoir that sits adjacent to the gym where I run on a treadmill powered by intermittent electricity.

In what must be four or five years now the municipality has not figured a way to stop the seepage.

But they do spend many a day digging out the veld grass from the embankment of the huge concrete holding tanks only to return a week or two later to do the same.

This is what goes for maintenance in the post-apartheid era - a semblance of what my long-lost mountain man friend from West Virginia, Rodney Morton, would describe as "p*ssing in the wind".

I often wonder if they realize that the grass will return no matter what; nature it seems reclaims its habits no matter the managed pretense.  It is the way of balance, the Tao.

At 8am sharp the electricity that warmed my second cup of coffee went out and I lamented the dark screen on the living room TV that could not bring me pictures of the third day of international cricket between South Africa and Pakistan; or highlights of a resurgent Rafa at Indian Wells.

My anger was palpable as I stood at the front door seething hate for a municipal manager who was absent in the years of struggle but now earns more in a year than I will make in five.

How is it that our post-apartheid reality is filled with incompetent fat cats who gave nothing in the years when standing for justice could cost you your life but now are so moneyed and powerful yet irredeemably vacuous and grotesquely facile?

Robert Sobukwe used to lament even in the days of apartheid that those who will rise to brandish the fruits of our struggle are the very ones who hid in times of turmoil; this is the essence of managers and political entrepreneurs - they take only the narrow calculated risks that bring them favor and fortune.

Just mere moments into my recurring disgust my three dogs appeared jumping with excitement to see me.  They beckoned me to join them in our usual roughhousing on the now lush Kikuyu grass I regrew and tended and watered for months up to now - all with diligent and misplaced passion.

In the midst of being slobbered on it dawned on me - again - that there is another world around the world I have constructed and reconstructed as my reality.

A world beyond the escape mechanism I am refining to keep me from just imploding in this dustbin city that can claim me as a homeboy if anyone that mattered was left or if anyone who remained even cared.

Another world away from this keyboard and the deadlines from publishers and the fake friendships grounded by lustful competition I would rather forget like the gaping potholes that ironically pattern the chaos on the long-gone perfect roads from the era of the white man and his managers.

There in front of me stood my companions and they were delightful and energized in the changing sun of a mid-morning without the usual sand and dust of desolation that defines the delusional dustbin.

The trio were ready to play until the creeping heat becomes unbearable and a nap is called for in the cool red earth beneath their favorite tree.

These are idyllic passages of realization tinged with the usual lament of what could be or should've been, I know that.

The same is true for the passage above by Walt Whitman.  

The tendency to project my thinking onto my animal companions and to derive their world into mine in much the same way as Whitman does is unmistakable - it is an irredeemable and worn anthropomorphic habit.

But there is also reason for a moment to reflect and to recast, is there not?

There is a distinctive joy outside the forced life of being immersed in the hurried and wasteful civilization too many interpret as meaningful and real.

Electricity, water, work, profit, politics, the gym; I for one spend too much time focused in and around these shaky edifices and I constantly worry that my life is passing me by; frankly, it is.

But then again, whose is not?

So, perhaps I should stop writing to myself here for now and go outside before it gets too hot to play.  

I am sure that Founder, Maya and Boo Boo will be very happy to help me un-lush the Kikuyu grass I spent too much time and money on even while I laughed at the workers attempting to weed the balance of mother nature at the decrepit municipal reservoir.

I can always catch the TV highlights of the game and Rafa later on because the electricity has come on again - despite.


Hat tip to Carolyn Baker and Countercurrents for making me aware of the Whitman quote.


Kimberly said...

Awareness comes to mind. While we lament on those frustrations of our lives, taking a moment to see the world from a different position can ease the frustration.

This is the reality we have chosen and we can choose another but I believe certain elements will remain the same for us.

I was at a gathering last night and twice I was talking with a friend and while we were in our conversation they went outside to smoke. When they returned they moved on to talk to another. I was sitting there frustrated that they didn't return to me. I wanted to continue talking with them but I realized that there were others they wanted to focus on. I actually thought oh this is their reality not mine.

I gave up my frustration and remembered why I was there and left happy that I had come.


Ridwan said...

Nice balance Kimster.

I like your comment and thinking very much.

The other side almost always offers another view, does it not?

That said, I hate parties with a passion. Small talk irks the bejeezus out of me most days.

But there probably is another side to that too :0)

Be good all you can.