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. 

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