Sunday 6 June 2021

Leaving the country.

 The four words are really inadequate: I've left the country. 

But I have. 

The Covid 19 was the main cause, wiping out our hospitality business, yet the Covid canal, like the Suez and Panama, can experience ships going sideways rather than forwards. So there are more reasons to leave the country. 

Take a thief, a scoundrel and a stupid person like Zuma, protected by the ANC. 

Take a hollow, expensive suit, like Ramaphosa, protecting the ANC. 

Take the electorate, the subservient, uneducated, impoverished, unprotected, ill-advised supporters of the ANC. 

And then take into account the crumbling national infrastructure: electricity, education, water, municipal delivery, post office, deeds office, and each national office you can think of. 

The formal, legalised national-speak has changed from my growing up years to the present. If I had published this blog in the seventies or eighties I would have been arrested before blogging off. 

Not now. The ANC and its leaders really don't care, so long as their pockets are kept full. Their reputation and honour mean nothing other than internal party political manipulation for the sake of power-survival. It used to be called petty cash, and it was possible to steal this, in petty ways.  But the national cash cow is  the main target, and it will be eaten alive. No bull. 

That's my swan-song in connection with the political rubbish. The NP leaders were bullies, the ANC leaders are supremely greedy and the next lot, no matter the party, will be ruthless. 

But that's not about leaving the country. That's about the country leaving itself. 

I will remember running along Cape Town streets, train journeys to Johannesburg, learning to learn in what used to be schools and universities, which is what I've loved most, apart form the steaks, Cabernet Sauvignons and my old Volksie, the city and its styles, the sky-scapes, mountain-scapes, and my solitary walks on Kommetjie beach, in the sun and in storms, coming back to the warmth of whiskey and a cigar.

I will remember all of this and so much more. 

My homes, the wind, rain and wishful thinking, and the mountains: Table Mountain, Twelve Apostles, the Amatola and the Cederberg. 

And Devil's Peak. 

And how love, conversations, scrutiny and care have followed me in my path in that country, thanks to so many, many people. 

I have left the country, yes, and am amazed to find out how much has not left me. 

I understand very little about love, but its stickiness, like honey, is difficult to wash off. 

Saturday 5 June 2021

Where does my story start?

 I grew up with the given idea that biology explains everything. You start at conception, you do whatever you can to live a healthy and well-lived life, if something goes wrong, the doctor will fix it, and eventually the body fails because of something organically malfunctioning, and then you die. 

You have a beginning, a middle, and an ending, as stories are supposed to. 

There's a lot to be said about this, but let's pay attention to the start, the beginning of your story. 

By way of a preamble, your body and your being is more like a story than anything else.

Some pointers before we begin: emotional imprint, genealogical predisposition, historical context, natural communication. "Natural communication" means that neurons behave as neurons in spite  of anything else. 

If you're able to grasp that you're part of a cosmic process rather than an individual person, you're more than halfway to knowing that your story has no discernible beginning. To make it easier I could say "as well as an individual person" but this individuality is more of a hindrance than a help. 

Sure, your body was conceived, gestated, born, grew up, and here you are. 

It didn't do that in any individual way. Bodies look individual because they can move about on their own, but that's as far as it goes. Not even thinking is really individual. 

The emotional imprints from mother to foetus, historical context to formation of attitude, and genetic predisposition to physiological conditions, and the way your neurons get set up, all add up to the mystery we call consciousness. 

So you can decide where your story begins. 

Mine is cosmic, but I would advise a smaller nest than that. It's better to know your mind than to get lost in it. 

In Story Clinic we suggest that you begin spontaneously. Don't start formally with "I was born....etc, etc."

Attention is crucially important, probably the most valuable attribute of humanity, in focusing cosmic capability. So we would ask, what does your attention seek right now? Let's slow down out of the normal stuff of dailiness, and allow your body to speak and attend to what's being communicated or required to communicate now. 

"I'm hungry."

"I'm tired."

"I'm angry with..."

"I'm frustrated with..."

"I'm enjoying..."

"I'm thankful for..."

Or we could allow for some moments of imaginative reflection, and begin with a spontaneous memory. This is a fruitful kind of beginning. The neurons are good at doing it for themselves. 

So your birthday is a milestone, not a definitive beginning, and the Akashic records are a library, not a book. 

And the Alpha of the alphabet was an invention, not a discovery. So even the language that you use to decipher yourself is not a totally adequate tool, although helpful. 

Your story starts where attention engages. Where it engages is up to two things, as I perceive it, what your imagination presents, and what you choose to do about it. For Tolkien, it involved a ring, for C.S. Lewis a lamp in a snowy world where animals spoke, and for Emily Bronte, a rattling at the window, and a haunting dream. 

If you give your imagination that same gift of attention, a unique, strange, strong and valuable beginning is very likely to emerge.