What I am / not

Regrettably Profundity is not really what I do.

It’s too deep and accurate;

Too honourable and wise.

Though sometimes, coincidentally, a time or two

I create a phrase or thought

Which may click or resonate.

But that is not my aim:

I prefer irreverence and whimsy,

quirks and stabs at the overfilled balloons of conventions

which have outlived their function.

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To my granddaughter, at 5 days

In my day and my Daddy’s day, grown-up was 18, when most people finished school, got a driving licence and ordered a beer in a bar. You won’t need a driver’s licence, my beloved, as the cars that are still around won’t need drivers, they’ll drive themselves far better than we could ever do. Try to give beer a miss.

My grandfather used horses to get around. He never owned a car or a telephone. CMR Officer

He was a soldier and rode into battle on his horse, with a sabre and a rifle.

I hope that I will be able to read you stories, but I suspect that books will also have largely disappeared. I know your Dad has already started reading to you.

Sharing anything with anyone is always a good thing, because even if it is a bad experience you will be able to share the pain and if it is a happy one you will be able to double your joy!

It is very important that you take time to talk to other people and do things together. Try to eat one meal a day with your family – no distractions, just talk to each other.

You will probably be a vegetarian, although you will eat stuff that looks and tastes like meat – we have a braai tradition. But real meat will be too expensive so we will cook vegieSteak and goggaPrawns on the barbie…

If you are lucky, your family will have its own vertical TerraFarm next to your house, which will produce most of your food. Maybe one of your first tasks will be feeding the chickens and collecting the eggs.

mzikiWe had a fine rooster called Mziki when I was young. He was very fierce and crowed the loudest of all roosters in town. I hope you are able to keep a rooster so you can wake up when it crows in the morning.

I hope you will love growing things as well.

When I was a boy, this world was still being explored. New societies were still being discovered in deep jungles. You will be able to work on Mars and explore outer space. Remember to call home. Parents never stop worrying about their children. Perhaps you could rather send an avatar so you won’t miss dinner and your Mum won’t fret.

Do your best, be brave, be humble, help others.

Sing

dance!

Smile

Dance

A living will is a dying wish

“The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die and you to live. Which of these two is better, only God knows.”

-Socrates

Such clarity of mind and absence of fear, when faced with imminent death, is remarkable and unusual. His last words were a reminder to Crito to pay a debt for him.

I am not dying, nor do I intend to do so for a number of years yet. However, I suspect when that Spectre is nigh, that I might not be possessed of the coolth and clarity of Socrates. So I will tell you now about how I would not like my dying to occur.

My intention is to inform my kith and kin and doctors to avoid the involvement of lawyers, who insist on making simple statements complex in order to guarantee certainty … and fees, no doubt.

In accordance with our will, my estate and all my possessions are to become my wife’s property and in the event of her death, before or after me, will be divided equally amongst our five children.

A simple concept was developed in Florida, USA to encapsulate the how I want to die / don’t want to die situation, called the Five Wishes, which met the approval of even Mother Theresa :

  •  My wife is the person I want to make care decisions for me when I can’t. If she can’t, then I wish one or two of my children to do so.
  • I do not wish to receive Medical Treatment that will prolong my life, unless I would be able to enjoy a good quality of life thereafter. Don’t keep me alive as a vegetable, don’t resuscitate me unless I could go swimming unaided and sing songs thereafter.unplug me.jpg
  • I like the idea of pain relief and maintaining dignity, even if it might not be good for continued breathing.
  • I do not wish to be a burden on my family, especially if /when I become demented. Place me in care and only come to see me if I will recognise you.
    • There is a Catch 22 here which you will need to resolve: the cost of care will come from our estate, which may diminish your inheritance. Let your own quality of life be the guiding principle.
  • I would like a memorial gathering where people can offer prayers, tell stories, laugh and cry.
    • Above all I would like to hear the singing from wherever I may be;
    • I wouldn’t mind a wake – in any event, I would like people to have a bit of a hooleyd'ya tink Im dead
    • I would like my ashes to be the growth medium for an umVovovo tree (huilende boerboon / tree fuschia).

tree burial

That’s where that thought went…

My granddaughter asked me to come and play; I replied that I was writing, to which she inquired: Why do you write?

To paint pictures with words … Really?

things to avoidNo, but I usually avoid the answer as I suspect it has something to do with a struggle to confront irrelevance or worse, insignificance.

I like the idea of creating something for others to see. Why does one seek recognition? Is it Pride:  a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements … consciousness of one’s own dignity …?

Wikipedia sets my anxious Catholic-bred mind at rest. Pride can be positive – a humble and content sense of attachment… a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging. Or it can be an irrationally corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status or accomplishments … synonymous with hubris.

Hubris is the terrible sin which saw Lucifer cast out of Heaven and transformed to become Satan. It is essentially placing one’s self above others, which as Satan experienced, attracts God’s great wrath.hubris

Strong individuals who drive themselves on to achieve their goals often start to overemphasize the worth of their own wisdom and fail to seek out or consider the counsel of others. Their thinking takes on a circular nature:

I have achieved because I am wise therefore I need only to follow my own advice…

This lack of regard for others inevitably leads to isolation, avoidance by others and great internal conflict which, when faced with failure  often manifests in uncontrolled outbursts and increased isolation.

The cure for hubris? A mirror could be used to provide perspective; or perhaps a challenge to seek ways to show gratitude frequently. A re-ordering of values and objectives would help – but who would be able to beard the lion in his den?

According to Greek legend and as Lucifer discovered, unchecked hubris leads to Nemesis.

 

I find that I am a great avoider, maybe we all are. Avoidance defers scrutiny and if neatly accomplished, may attract regard for the adroitness of the manoeuvre, distracting attention from the reason therefor.

sidestepOf course, in the strict light of day, there is no escape: avoidance is more likely a want of courage, which is unacceptable… (how does one avoid that?)

That’s what happens when one indulges in idle thinking!

Sentiment and the distortion of memory lane

Before you read on let me give you due warning: it is soppy, sentimental, sappy stuff….!

I was idly wondering the other day about the influence that music had on my life and started recalling songs and how old I was when they impressed me.

For some unfathomable reason the first one that came to mind was:

Two little Boys  – I recalled it as the source of some sort of comradely

heroi2 little boysc ideal and thought that I must have been extremely young and immature to think so. Rolf Harris sang it in 1969 when I turned 18!

 

last farewellAnother in the same heroic genre that appealed to me was Roger Whittaker’s The Last Farewell  That came out in 1971 when I was already a quasi-hippy student! What was I doing listening to such establishment warrior class stuff?

Then I remembered a real tear jerker which used to reduce me to tears when I heard it. I thought it was lucky that in Founders House the hit parade was after lights-out so no-one could see me snivelling. When I checked, I found my memory had deceived me again. The song was: Honey  Number 2 on 23 June 1968 LM Hit Parade. I was 16 and playing First XV rugby! – What a toughie!

I began recalling my all time favourites and the number one was a sophisticated piece of music – it must have been in my student years in the 70’s … wronggg again : Procul Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale came out in 1967, when I was still a schoolboy.

 

francoise

I was pretty close with All over the world by Francoise Hardy which came out in 1966 and New York Mining Disaster 1941 by the BeeGees in1967.

Another of my ‘own’ choice of singers was Barry McGuire – I remember playing Eve of Destruction and Masters of War to my Mum – it made her weep and I had to stop. That was about 1969.

Of course, I have forgotten about the Simon and Garfunkel songs, which we used to sing in the school bus on long trips back from rugby games; like I am a rock and Sounds of Silence; my favourite was probably For Emily wherever I may find her

Heavens! I was such a sook!

I musn’t forget my pre-teen years and the influence of my older brother and sister and my parents. My Dad loved Gilbert and Sullivan so it was all The Mikado and HMS Pinafore operetta stuff with a bit of Bach, Mozart and Tschaikovsky thrown in: Jesu Joy, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Piano Concerto No 1 and Handel’s Messiah and Water Music.

Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Pat Boone, Elvis and Cliff also come to mind – so a fairly eclectic exposure, I suppose.

I am still a sook and weep every time I hear Danny Boy for goodness sake!

 

 

 

African Odyssey

 

We took off from Perth at 20 to midnight and landed in Joburg at 10 to five – but flew for 11 hours overnight, during which sleep was elusive.

Immigration was quick and impassive, baggage delivery slow but effective: all there and undamaged. Customs alert and easy going. Friends beaming at the gate – AT 5H30 ON SUNDAY MORNING!! Such love!

Car hire…eish! system is down… but sorted and 4 suitcases, 4 hand luggage squeezed in and away we go. At garage exit, we are stopped by a slovenly policeman. (Rat smell!) – kept cool and stared him down, he checked driver’s licence and let us go: Welcome to Africa!

Things have changed and we got lost in Boksburg North and stopped to listen to hadedas and then arrived at Bridie’s. Last home of Mum and Dad, with same furniture, curtains, vases. Watched the rugby test, specially recorded: boring draw! Grand breakfast.

Little snooze and in walk Jeff and Gail, besties from the ou dae! Beer and braai and a bietjie wyn! Heart full as I thought we might miss them.

Early bed – to awaken at 2am – ain’t jet lag grand!

Lingering, languid lunch with Jen and Rich – awake at 2 am again! Aaarghh!

 

It was about here that I realised this could turn into an epic requiring undue perseverance by my faithful few readers, so ……. I wrote a sort of travelogue poem, condensing our trip while trying to cover itinerary, cast list and feelings about what we saw and did.

Here is a link to the poem, which I called Second generation Souties