Wondering about Me, Myself and I

What did I want to be when I was little? Everything, anything, nothing! The world was a magical place to discover and experience and I think it still is. I am now just looking for that angle again where reality disappears into a faint reminder of what is and my thoughts conjure up an escape, a place of solitude and enlightenment, of revelation and growth and that which could be. Where experience trumps possessions anytime and a memory can encompass a thousand emotions and words. The land of make believe awaits us, just think...

Sunday, 11 September 2011

A Decade of Paradoxes

It’s the 10 year anniversary of the World Trade Centre attacks and on this day half way around the world, South Africa meets their first opponent in the Rugby World Cup 2011. One event brings trepidation, the other happiness. Just goes to show, no matter the magnitude or insignificance of an event, life really does go on. And in retrospect, everything that happened between then and now seems like forlorn memories, untouchable, but tangible in you. Hindsight reveals someone unrecognisable to you and you wonder where that person had gone, whether it was a happy teenager or a grieving mother that lived in that past moment. 

You realise that you have moulded and changed, you have become strong or just fallen into blunt indifference. You have made peace or fallen in love, you have found your muse, your passion, your dream, or you have given up on that goal and changed the course of your life completely. Whichever the case may be, you realise that person living in the past, would not recognise the person living in the present and the person living in the present, will not recognise the character of the future. 

Like a river corroding the earth as it tries to find its way to the oceans, we are pushed and pulled into shapes we may never have foreseen. We are challenged with obstacles that will literally drain the life out of you and tear you soul apart from the inside. Emotions will overwhelm you and every now and again we all think: is it worth it or am I worthy, or even what I will become. Like the white rapids intimidates, rushes, crashes and destroys relentlessly, we can all recall when we felt like we were being bounced around hard, barely keeping head above water. We all remember that momentous moment, where you where thrown over the waterfall, sinking deep under the pressure of the water. But then you recall another motion. You recall kicking hard and fighting to hold your breath just two more seconds. Everything aches, your vision starts blurring, but your mind urges you to try just one more time. And in those last desperate moments, just before you want to admit defeat, you break through the surface and there awaits the glorious reward of fresh air. It takes you a while to catch your breath, you shudder, you ache but then you realise, the waters are calm and you almost want admit, is beautiful.

You look around you and realise, you are surrounded by tranquillity and the breathtaking views of this place, this moment. You even dare to look back at the rapids and waterfall and see how dauntingly beautiful even they are, the soft sound in the distance of the waters crashing a lulling reminder that you survived. You look ahead as far as you can see as the river lazily bends and giggles over pebbles, disappearing calmly into the sun. You can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for the time being there will be smooth sailing. You rest while the river takes you slowly, bending into strange directions every now and again and as you start to feel replenished you remind yourself, that rapids may be coming. Waterfalls may be lurking and even though the obstacle you survived up stream is a gorgeous reminder of victory, you cannot keep staring at it.

There are so many times in our frail human existence, that we feel detached from the world, that we simply cannot understand how trivial things like a Rugby World Cup can be so important, when so many are grieving on this day. Call it a slither of hope if you’d like, call it escapism if that suits you better, call it ignorance or denial. Whatever name you attach to it, realise that in our most mundane of interests, in the smallest attachment to another human being, an animal or a task we are keeping our head above the water, we are kicking and fighting to survive, we are accomplishing life. 

A sports celebration on the anniversary of tragedy is a calm yet reassuring paradox. We do not deny the event, we do not down play its existence, we respect those who still mourn and we pay tribute to those who stepped up, but we celebrate the uniting of nations, the excitement of progress and an everlasting faith that through all the bad, good prevails. That like the flowers of spring bring a new sense of happiness to all and nature confirms the never ending cycles of life, we should recognise the cycles in our own life and approach it accordingly, so that when the time comes, we too may bloom and grow.

Friday, 10 June 2011


Thinking about it now, I can hardly remember that bag of crumbs.

I recalled glimpses of emptiness and impatient little hands greedily feeling the weight of the bag as it slowly filled up. These thoughts are so out of place that it forces me to a standstill as confusion turns to frustration. Where have I seen this before and why does it feel so familiar?

Then I hear a voice, a smell, a taste, a kaleidoscope of images later and I am surrounded by a memory.

She smiles as she takes my hand. Happily, we walk into the garden where the sun stings my skin and I have to squint, but I don’t mind, she is leading me. She holds the bag of gold out towards me and I dig my little fingers into the crumbs, feeling their coarse texture, feeling excitement building. I take as much as my hands can hold and listen intently to the crumbs crushing. With one big whoosh they fly across the sky and like rain drops on a sink roof they bounce upon contact with the earth. It’s the most beautiful sight. This action is continued over and over again, sometimes with a giggle, sometimes with a spin on my tippy toes. I laugh and dance, I am feeding the birds. 

Thinking about it now, it hardly seems that entertaining. 

Crumbs has become so mundane, an irritation that attracts ants. It’s hardly a beautiful sight to these adult eyes. I can’t recall the last time I danced purely because I was so excited to move. I can’t remember the last time I held her hand. The magic of the memory is quickly lost. In a factual functional world, there’s little space and time for dreamers. Or is there?

I’ve grown accustomed to the life without her smiles. I have forgotten about the little pieces of magic she possessed. How a grandma can change the perspective of a child, is a miracle in itself. Every moment was filled with aromas, watching her cook or helping her wash up the dishes. Every nook and cranny of the house was a secret passage, a castle, a fortress of imagination. The garden was foreign countries, mountains that needed exploring, our camp site and our fairytale. 

She would many a times be the heroin of my playful youth, the protector of my dreams and provider to hungry soul and of course a hungry tummy. As I divulged into a world of dwarfs and dragons, she would prepare a scrumptious meal and as the sweet aroma filled the air and all the princes and princesses would gather in the kitchen eagerly awaiting a plate of sustenance. Then came the wait for the afternoon nap, for each one of the children knew that grandma kept hidden in the kitchen cupboard sweets of every size and colours and cookies hand baked to perfection. The sweet tooth could indulge in here forever.

Thinking about it now, this house represents indulgence. 

In her house you could roam free; we would play everywhere and anywhere. She would arrange witch hunts for Easter and Santa for Christmas. The shelves were filled with videos of our favourite cartoons providing hours of singing and laughing. Then the coup de grace, the room where laughter accumulated, where the adventures would begin was located in the centre of the house. Here she would sow together the most colourful costumes, making my mind fly as I become the fairy princess. Where two wooden doors would open up revealing a cupboard filled to the brim with old and new toys, some come with stories of her childhood, some would encapsulate the memory of mine. A toy for every mood and a tool for every craft were housed here. 

Children would gather round the tape recorder and have hours of fun recording and replaying our own version of Red Riding Hood. We’d strategise for hours how we would win Granddad in chess. We’d take care of babies and Barbies and paint and draw and cross stitch. As we created art, we created ourselves. 

Thinking about it now, it is the crumbs of these memories that inspire me daily. 

This bag of gold holds experiences so priceless. The crumbs crushed in my thoughts become wisdom and escape. These crumbs are not mundane and they are beautiful as they dance through my mind. I have come such a long way.  It surges through my veins, magnifying a bond that has been forged over years. I recall all the little things I hold dear, I feel a longing and then emptiness as I realise how much things has changed.
All the princess and princesses have become kings and queens of their own kingdoms. Foreign countries became new homes and the imagination was given a back seat as the pay check took the lead. We speak not of fairies any more, but of fairytale weddings. We don’t record our stories anymore, for the wolf is no longer scary. 

So too has she grown older. We said farewell to the castle she roamed. We gathered once more to fill the rooms with laughter, to cook and bake together, to create one last solid memory. We stood in the garden and spoke of games played, battles won and lost. We sat round the piano and remembered warm Christmas nights. We looked at each other and realised, that each of us still harbours our prince, our princess and that she was still the magic that brought it to life. Then we said goodbye. 

Thinking about it now, it was a pivotal point in my life. 

It was an opportunity to catch up but also a time to realise how much has changed. We have given away the chest of toys; we have donated the books and packed up the photos. We laughed at old times, trying to ignore the new beginning. As much as things were changing, I wished it could always stay the same. 

In this moment it dawns on me, how privileged we have been. Though times have changed and surroundings have changed, she is still the same. She has made me realise, that of all the great moments in my life, these little ones are the colours I have painted my life with. It is these small joys that have given me dimension and positive energy to draw from. 

I see that like Hansel and Gretel followed a trail of crumbs, hoping to find a home, that in actual fact, she has left me a trail of stones, gleaming in the light of her love, that I can trace back through my youth and back again to a place I can feel safe. 

I laugh and dance, I am feeding my soul. Bread crumbs for the birds and crumbs of memories for me. Life can be so simplistic in its design, when the weave of youth is precious love. 

Thinking about it now, I am blessed to still have time. 

I have left behind many homes, we saw loved ones come and go and we said our final farewells to others. We grew up without anyone noticing, until one day when you see the routes you drive are different, you are driving them yourself. You can’t recall the last conversation or meeting and you realise, the bag of crumbs is dangerously empty. So we reach out, we go back, we reminisce about times long gone. Sentences starting with “remember when...” and “when you were younger...” and the memories will fill the air. While we talk I see before me another being made. The wonder is it never ceases to create. I breathe it in and feel as it becomes part of me. We think of the good old times, yet we are spoiled with the current times.

Time has come for me to depart. I take her hand and walk with her into the sunlight, its warm rays caresses our faces, she has to squint, but she doesn’t mind. I am leading her.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Elusive Carcadian Rhythm

We are defined by time. How we manage time, how we work, how we play, how we divide our attention.
We have all at one stage wished that a day could have one more hour, that a holiday could be one more day, that  a deadline was more of a guideline than a penalty. 

The circadian rhythm explains the endogenous natural inclination to follow a periodic cycle. This rhythm is adjusted by external cues, the primary one being sunlight. We are inclined to rest as the sun sets and inclined to wake as the sun rises. 

This hints that humans were built to follow a rhythm and routine and we are happiest when everything in our periodic cycles is in balance. We long for equilibrium. 

Noticeably though, balance evades even the best time managers today. We rush from one event to the next and fill our days with reading tips on how to be more productive. We have convinced ourselves that there is always space for more, but is there really time?

We have conditioned our bodies to ignore the natural cues of rest periods and with artificial energy we have evolved into a generation that is more compelled to stay awake than to rest. We go out; we work or lay awake contemplating the day of tomorrow. We interact constantly, be it on the phone, cell phone, emails, SMS, texts, instant messaging and social networking. We are so over stimulated that we don’t recognise the cues, we don’t adhere to the nagging fatigue. Instead of taking time out, we take more Ginsengs.

Perhaps we will feel more fulfilled when we have the energy to enjoy the fruits of our labour, when we can think clearly about situations and actually see the sun rising without despising it. Perhaps life would not be such a struggle, if we learn that we are allowed to simplify it. Rest in itself is an activity. We are so scared of not living life to the full, that we now live life to the breaking point. Just because the human body and mind is capable of coping with the extremes, does not necessarily mean that we must constantly walk on the edge.

Perhaps we should adhere to one politician’s words as John Lubbock said:

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time”.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Childlike Inspiration

Let it be said that some people never grow up. Sure we grow older, we add years and wrinkles, but we never grow up.

We still look up at the night sky in wonder and think how great it would be to fly without wings. We tread lightly on the leaves, for one never knows where a fairy might be hiding, we possibly even take a running start to jump on the bed for fear of the unseen monster.

Many of our hours are spent dreaming, trying to find our rhythm, trying to find the one thing that makes us endlessly happy. Hoping to find something that will fulfil us. I am yet to find someone who has found completion, someone who has done all the exploring and discovering his/her mind could encompass and that is what this title is all about: The periodic exploration of my own reflection.

So with an unlikely tool in hand, I document a little spectrum of life, through a perspective of a grown up child and leave you with the words of Mr. Magorium: "We Breathe. We Pulse. We Regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. Thirty-seven seconds, well used, is a lifetime." (Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium 2007.