Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Day/My life

So one day when I'm walking on the faded stripes over cracked and sunbaked tar, stepping over katbosse and dodging tumbleweed, and I read my blog (assuming there's electricity in 2028), I'm going to wonder - what was I thinking; what was I doing way back when? All I do is post these alarming messages about food, oil prices, the weather. What was I actually thinking and doing on a daily basis?

Well, over the previous weekend I drove to Bloem to visit Fransa and say goodbye to my sister who is going to London. I did that drive in a new record: 2H30. I left at 3:20pm and got there at 6:50pm. In my defence, I had to get there quickly because I was burnt out and exhausted, and a lot drive might have ended in carnage.

Bloem was interesting. I photographed the university campus, some buildings and nooks and crannies I had never seen (or noticed) before. I noticed the campus was a great metaphor for not only South Africa, but the world. There were some areas designated for development, whilst other areas - a lot of areas - were in an advanced state of decay. We are a throwaway society. When something is broken or just old, we don't try to fix it or resuscitate or apply a fresh coat of paint. We throw it away and try to get something new. (It comes with a fresh coat of paint anyway).

I can't help thinking that once the contraction is over (a very dark and painful period for a lot of people), things will actually be better. My personal experience is that living in the late 20th and 21st century is that it is an incredibly lonely, empty and isolated existence. We have replaced our relationships with people by investing in things. We have also lost our manners. The way we delete emails and phone numbers and Facebook friends becomes anathema for the way we casually burn bridges to loved one's, confidently declaring that we don't need or want them in our lives. People are not the sms or emails they send. They get up in the morning, they brush their teeth, they have loves, hurts and concerns like any person, and they are just like you. We have become a narcissistic culture.

Lately there has been a lot of talk and debate about David Bullard, Zimbabwe and rising prices. There are still a lot of people calling for optimism and positivity. There is almost no one selling solar powered solutions to traffic lights, no one leaving their work to work on a farm. There is a heightened sense of stress, and gradually, a jittery nervousness coming into the system.

I also spent some quality time in Bloem going through the home and garden where I grew up. My father and sister were climbing a mountain near Nieu Bethesda, so I had the place to myself. One of the dogs has lost the ability to use his hind legs, and struggles to crawl around, meaning he sometimes urinates before he gets out the back sliding door. The house smells of dogs. I had a thought that in Max's case, death approaches, bringing smell and bacteria into the environment, allowing for a smooth transition. It is very depressing for me to contemplate: this dog's life, running out, and each day it is more grim. And once the dog is dead, the life that was set aside for this one creature, is gone. And yet there is this idea that perhaps we need to put the dog down, in spite of this gift of life.

After a fun game of squash and a gesels, I went to a wonderful barbecue with Fransa and her family. Very tasty food and interesting conversation. Her mom has been doing a medical trial and showed me very nasty blue stains where they had drawn blood. The trial is to assess the efficacy of emphysema medications (for smokers). Fransa has quit smoking, which I'm happy about. Her brother has quit drinking and taken to playing guitar - well, I might add. The rugby - which we watched at home with a few beers, chips and biltong - was quite tragic. The Cheetahs got their butts whipped, the Bulls too. The Stormers though played impressive rugby. My sister used up all the hot water. Some door slamming before I left.

The last thing I did before I left Bloem - after an incredible power nap - was visit Crisp Crescent and drop off a DVD about Transcendental Meditation (powerful stuff) to someone I met on Facebook who works at UFS as a psychology professor (so Facebook does have its uses). As I drove out of Bloem this gorgeous yelloow sunshine blasted through a cloud drawing a beautiful looping rainbow. It arced over the power lines that straddle the road that goes past Northridge Mall (Eufees I think). I took some beautiful shots which essentially symbolised - to me at any rate - this idea that we need a magical supply of energy like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But the easy way out of fairy tales are not easily come by in real life, in the desert of the real (world).

This morning at 5:20am I was at the gym, and I have to say, while I have good reasons to be there (as a half-professional athlete with high ambitions) I wonder what housewives (some pregnant) and husbands are doing there? Looking good for their spouses? Keeping up with the Jones'. The Melrose Arch bunch remind me how motivated and committed, how tough people are, and how determined they are in their pursuit of...well, some vision of beauty and wealth. But in reality they are all pedalling fast, running on treadmills, building muscles, shedding buckets of sweat, but going nowhere.

As pressures are brought to bear, more and more people are becoming aware of more and more people, and the veneer South Africans have worn is beginning to slip off the mannequins. Both blacks and whites are emerging with prejudices mostly intact, reinforced by crime and other blameworthy causes.

My personal view of mankind is that people have become incredibly shallow. Ego is what is at stake, and logic is sacrificed at the alter of ego. The Aspasia Karras example I mentioned (her article on Ryk Neethling) earlier provides a good example of this self-styled celebrity trending going on.

I recently bought and watched the DVD Superman Returns. In it, he says:
Listen; what do you hear?
Lois Lane: Nothing.
Superman: I hear everything. You wrote that the world doesn't need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one.

Our problem is that we don't know how to listen. We're distracted. Even when we do listen we're thinking about a response, we're spinning it, we're finding an angle. We aren't in the now, accepting at face value what is.

I contemplate marriage the way anyone else would, especially at my age. I cannot begin to understand why people get married and have children as a matter of course. Obviously if people are not aware of the reality of the world, it's a somewhat more thinkable proposition. But adding more 'users' to the world is a very shaky proposition given where the world is headed: food shortages, fuel shortages, insufficient power supplies and all the rest.

My brother completed the Ironman over the weekend. He did it 40 minutes quicker than I did mine. Not bad. I'm keen to do the Ironman in 2009. I'd like to follow that up with a trip to Hawaii. Meanwhile, this year, I have to continue to work at work, and work when I play, and also train hard during all the other hours available. Burnout is a real problem. Every 2-3 weeks I feel utterly exhausted (physically, mentally, spiritually).

Today I photographed Roxanne before she flies to Cape Town for her SA Sports Illustrated shoot. I predict her life will change quickly after that. It is very difficult to take a bad picture of her, and I see many opportunities flowing her way. I told her today: "The only way to fuck up your life now is if you fuck it up; like if you fall pregnant tomorrow."

So despite the doom and gloom, there are definitely shards of sunlight. Those with money will surf the decade to come on the final excesses of capitalism. We have time to transition to the farms, to start those vegetable gardens. And to develop communities, relationships, virtual and real, while there are still leaves on the trees, cars purring up and down the driveway and gym rats beating back the dawn to get their fixes.
I am reading Kunstler's World Made By Hand. I am gearing up to restart serious work on The Butcher, and a new project called: Well Superman, Where are you now. I am also investing more in photography. I want to record this old world before it's gone. The cars, the suburbia, the fast food, the mall life.

There is magic in the universe. But the place to find it is in ourselves.

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