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.