I am going to slaughter a few sacred cows.

  • Wednesday, December 28, 2022
  • 0
And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack 
And you may find yourself in another part of the world 
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile 
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife 
And you may ask yourself, "Well, how did I get here?"

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down 
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground 
Into the blue again, after the money's gone 
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground
(Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads)
Trauma, until we work it through, keeps us stuck in the past, robbing us of the present moment’s riches, limiting who we can be.
(Gabor Maté)

Social justice. Justice. Equality and inclusion. Freedom. Family, love and identity. Especially love. Being seen and valued. These are the things that count in life, that have importance and meaning. None of these things are comfortable, none of them are safe. They are the counter point to the ills in contemporary society, rampant capitalism, elitism, cruel politics and the violation of climate.
Recently I watched my son perform Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads in the same dry, dispassionate fashion as David Byrne. This is a classic about the meaninglessness of pursuing empty things that have no lasting value. It is a song about life ebbing away in unconscious fashion, without impact or legacy and his intelligent interpretation of the song gave it meaning that a facsimile would have failed to do. This is the power that art has, it asks difficult questions and forces a response.
On a hot day in Africa I watched a bird. It was flying dead centre between two lanes of cars, a metal canyon smelling of heat and frustrated dreams. It flew straight and low, its wings beating soundless like a pulse, longitudinal waves in the air, its beak thrust forward, resolute. And then it soared up, over the ocean, over the Whales in the bay and into the sun, its escape effortless, elegant and clean. 
I don't want to wake up seventy empty and angry. I knew the bird carried a message for me. The warning was stark, stay on the forbidding path you are on or die choked and crushed by the pollution in your life. Get altitude and you will find your way.
There is a Swedish idiom that goes, “varmt hjärta, kall hjärna, is i magen” – a warm heart, a cool brain and ice in the stomach. In other words go forward with love, logic and courage.
I tolerate my life as it is because it is a comfort zone or the illusion of one. It is the life of the frog in the slowly boiling pot of water. The Gospel of St Thomas states whatever you bring out of yourself will free you and whatever you don’t bring out of yourself will kill you. This is the klaxon of truth, the shattering sound of the fire alarm while we are asleep. It is disorientating but it needs a response. I am slowly beating myself to death, the people around me know it but are either unwilling or unable to intervene. Only I can.
It is time to change direction, to do something different and uncomfortable. 
If it were just me I would go back to Southern Africa, that was the beginning, the root, it is where I fit best in my skin. I am not saying the answers are there but it is where I am home, I am myself.
This was reinforced during the latter part of 2022. In my wildest dreams I never imagined that I would be running on the rims of two great continents bordering the Indian Ocean just months apart. Twice this year I slept beneath the Southern Cross, Australia in April and South Africa in October. I ran full of emotion in the humidity of Durban, alongside Southern Right Whales, the air thick with salt and the sun burning my back. I stepped over lizards and Choongalolos and chattered with monkeys. I smelt the rain and watched from my balcony, the Rainbow Nation noisy, colourful and full of life. There is so much that is still wrong there, so much poverty, so much decay but also abundant evidence of the green shoots of growth and hope. I still have a passionate love for this place and it's people. My people.
Tonight the moon is a marshmallow. In one hour it will be impaled upon the church steeple, in the morning it will still be there like a sad balloon, partially deflated and tangled in the weather vane. My family surround me. Themba the ludicrous Labrador is chewing a bone at my feet. He is the next instalment in my lifetime lesson of grace. Dogs love. They set no condition for this, they just give their hearts holding nothing back. There is no future or past. By doing this they transcend into something divine and elevated beyond themselves, they free themselves from the constraint of their species. In turn, if we respond to it this transcendence lifts us beyond ourselves, they heal the deafness of our spirits. We cannot help but become richer and more loving for it. 
I need to live. I need meaning. I need change. Vicktor Frankl once quoted Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” Existentialist philosophers argue that life is meaningless and we must come to terms with that. Frankl disagreed, he thought to make life worth living we each need to find our own meaning unique to us. I think of all the meaning only love remains.
There is another quote by Sanober Khan. "Whatever you do be gentle with yourself. You don't just live in this world or your home or your skin. You also live in someone else's eyes." That sobered me up, it means we carry a lot of responsibility to be kind to ourselves on behalf of others, especially those we love. 
I do not know what I am going to do but it will be an adjustment of heart and mind. I am going to slaughter a few sacred cows. This is my final blog post. I have loved writing this blog. It is patronising and self indulgent with recurrent themes but I hope it has contained a little fun. It has reached its end. I considered taking it down but I am going to leave it drifting like a piece of space junk in the digital universe. If you do happen to collide with it I hope you come out unhurt and on top.
Be gentle with yourself.
Sala kahle, Hambe kahle.


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