Ayikho inkomo yobuthongo.

  • Sunday, July 17, 2022
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 Living for that peace of mind

When the feeling stays the same

Over explain and you try to understand
When I tell you that I love you babe
And you're never gonna pull away
And softly falling down keeping it kind in your way
And it's sweet like that

(Valentina, Lonely Nights)

We casually bring children into the world without a lot of thought or planning and then launch them off to grow up beneath fairy lights, expectation and hope. We require them to navigate the societal jungle with the most rudimentary instruction and operating from our own brokenness and flaws, our scars and limp passed down like a baton. We are madly and recklessly in love with our kids, and this is the one beacon of light, a reference point they can find space to explore within and grow. It is a safe harbour that they can return to as many times as they like and it should give them the confidence to ask big questions of themselves, their parents and life. And all the time we cling to them like the life raft of our lost youth, floating amongst the wreckage of our lives. We try to remain cool and relevant wearing distressed cargo shorts and old Talking Heads shirts. We watch our kids perform in edgy subterranean venues while trying to convey the impression that these are not alien places to us or that the music is sometimes incomprehensible. Nobody is fooled apart from ourselves, our hair grey, reading glasses dangling from the collar of our shirts and drinking expensive cider the colour of blood.

Despite us they find their way. There is a Zulu saying, Ayikho inkomo yobuthongo (sleeping never rewarded anyone with a living cow) which applies to our young people. They never stop asking questions or being curious and they bring energy to those endeavours which catapult them forward. The challenge if you are young is not to lose that momentum and energy of curiosity, to not lose your tribal or individual identity, to never fall asleep.

What a time to be alive.

Last week I ran deep in the Kent forest. There is an urgency to my running now that I haven't experienced for a couple of years, my body is demanding and responding to intensity and focus. I followed my feet and my instincts, trusting that I would find my way. I ran down twisting defiles carved into the earth like a signal over time and along a broad valley floor, the humidity producing the smell of fermenting vegetation, the trees archaic and massive, rising up the valley sides in terraced ranks. I ran up again, and up, climbing steep rocky trails that hurt my legs and lungs. I love the familiar, I love my home trails, those paths I know so well, they love and forgive me but they demand little from me. It is important and necessary to try new paths, new terrain that is less friendly and more stretching. These are the places where we do most of our learning, where there is discomfort and rigour, the challenge of the ambushing ascent. This is where we drink the sweetest nectar and become joyfully drunk on life's possibility. I'm getting older but I am still asking questions of myself, still curious and strangely hopeful of a living cow or two.

Today I am in my garden, this tiny patch of earth where I invite the sun. Shirtless and shoeless I feel as if I am the human connection between the earth and the sun, grounded through my feet and wearing the sun on my shoulders like a mantle. The people who are important to me are here creating because that is a high calling and we reach for the stars. Together we are crafting, painting, moulding and writing, making something out of our imaginations and histories, building our tribe and making memory and tradition. We are talking, exchanging opinions and points of view. There is music and there is laughter. I am Dad, I am bhundu, I am African and I am alive. 

I'm pouring another glass, I'm drifting, been left to drift.

  • Sunday, July 03, 2022
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 Moods that take me and erase me

And I'm painted black

You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice
You've made it now
(Falling Slowly, Glen Hansard)

I'm drunk. Well halfway there at least. Red wine, I love it. 
I'm grieving. There is so much hurt in the world, so much pain, so much damage. There are so few answers, so little we can do, so many layers of damage. The world feels heavy tonight. In all honesty the world feels fucking heavy most nights. How do you tell a child who has been brutalised that she matters, that she is worthy and loved? How do you communicate that she is stronger than she thinks, that she is beautiful? 
Sometimes there are no words.
I should go to bed soon, put what's left of this bottle of red away, sleep. At my right is Themba, he is sleeping with an anxious frown on his face. He is wine free. Themba is my dog, a blonde labrador sent to save me and he has failed. I still love him because the fault is mine and love is unconditional and full of forgiveness. He's easy to love because he has a massive generous heart. He has a Zulu name because I love the Zulu people. Themba means hope, trust and faith. 
I've been listening to music. Glen Hansard, Bird of Sorrow. Tom Walker, Leave a Light on. A song about suicide. Joan Osborne, What if God Was One of Us? The Brothers Osborne, Dead Mans Curve. Jeremy Loops, Idles, Black Midi and George Michael. Others.
Music scrubs our soul, it has the power to abrade the barnacles that we collect as we journey through life. Karen Blixen who wrote Out of Africa said that all sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story and I see music as essentially storytelling. Music and running go together, not to listen to through expensive and trendy bluetooth EarPods but because of the shared rhythm. Music has a beat. Running has cadence. Close family. Music is vibration and running is vibration, both send positive waves through our bodies and spirits. In every run I reach a point between half a mile and a mile where I exhale, it is a long drawn out release of tension, weight and shit. It is the moment that my run really starts and it can't be forced, can't be rushed. It happens when my spirit is ready. I wait for it, when it comes I rejoice in it and sometimes I fly.
I'm pouring another glass, I'm drifting, been left to drift.
I came back from Australia, the ancient land, in May. It's not Africa but I love this country still beneath the Southern Cross. It is hot and laidback. There is space and the sky is big. You sense the heft of Aboriginal history on the land, it is Dreamtime. There is time to think. I had three weeks of sunsets and bush, of rivers, wild birds, sleeping on a mattress and my beloved family. I ran searching for dolphins, mostly out past Quinns with the sea on my left as it should be. I came back through the bush wary of snakes. If they were there I didn't see them. I sat for hours on the tiny beach that is hidden from people, watching the Silver fish and listening to the surf. I did more than listen, I felt it in my deepest core. Music scrubs our soul but the rhythm of the waves goes deeper, reaching the primal recesses of our being. The longer you sit, watch and listen the more you become part of the ocean, it begins a deep massaging work within you loosening and breaking up the detritus and damage that life creates. My heart began to beat in symphony with the waves, slow, meditative and regular. I didn't feel peace I became it, became cleaner and lighter, floating away from and back to myself. In this moment I knew it was time for something new, for change, a shifting away from the known. I know that change is coming, I have dreamt it into existence beside the waves and with a lone Osprey for company. It may be slow like the shedding of a skin but it is going to happen, is already happening.
This glass is done, the bottle almost empty. I need to decide whether to make coffee or drag myself to bed. The Child Who's Face Eclipses the Sun has just arrived home. Maybe we have both been drinking. I know this day will not come again and neither will tomorrow. We need to live.

“The trouble is, you think you have time.” - Jack Kornfield 

"There is a time when it is necessary to abandon the used clothes, which already have the shape of our body, and to forget our paths, which take us always to the same places. This is the time to cross the river: and if we don’t dare to do it, we will have stayed forever beneath ourselves."

(Fernando Pessoa)