Bekende woorde van Jean-Valjean uit Les Miserables in sy soeke na sy diepste identiteit. Krisis of groot verandering in ‘n mens se lewe roep dikwels hierdie vraag op! Aftrede is so ‘n groot verandering en kan jou tot in jou fondament skud. As dit nie, is jy of breindood of onder narkose.
As relatiewe jong pensioenaris wil ek aspekte van my reis met oud en jonk deel. Nie om enige indruk te maak nie, maar eerder as terapie vir myself en ander. Die idee is beslis nie om sosiale kommentaar, gewaande wyshede of filosofiese denke op pen te sit, of te ontlok nie! Die idee is om te vertel en te deel – van reisverhale, die mooi van die natuur, kosmaak en kuier, medemenslikheid en die hart van Verandering.
Maar hierdie pad gaan baie rustig geloop word……
“When you are getting on in years (but not ill, of course), you get very sleepy at times, and the hours seem to pass like lazy cattle moving across a landscape.” – GOOD-BYE, MR. CHIPS, James Hilton.
Post retirement Life presents many options. To be or not to be. No one prepared you for this phase. But actually there are many options – engaging is the thing. Becoming a coach patato is easy, but fatal. The instinct of survival kicks in. Explore! Venture and do things. Different things. Many things. Crazy things.
Realised that in a next life food would be the Peace place. No limits, exploration and extreme innovation! What the hell!
Breaking barriers. Overcoming sentiments. Dined on my favourite antelope tonight. Actually been easier than anticipated! Gemsbuck fillet. The most beautiful and aristocratic creature and signature of the Kgalaghadi. Creation. Man. Destiny. Homo Sapiens.
I can now understand a bit of the Bushman heart. A prayer for forgiveness. A profound gratitude.
Rare Gemsbok fillet, homegrown Aubergine, brocolli and good wine.
From the day we arrive on the planet And, blinking, step into the sun There’s more to see than can ever be seen More to do than can ever be done There’s far too much to take in here More to find than can ever be found But the sun rolling high Through the sapphire sky Keeps great and small on the endless round
It’s the circle of life And it moves us all … Elton John/ Tim Rice/ Lebo M & Carmen Twillie uit ‘The lion king’
Ons was seker so 5 en 8 onderskeidelik, begin sestigerjare, en reeds lekker stout nefies! Wel, oor die algemeen ‘mooi’ stout. Net normaal. Ons ma’s was susters. Ver uit mekaar gewoon – ek in die Weskusdorpie en hy op die plasie by Jan Fourieskraal langs die sementpad wat Calitzdorp en Oudtshoorn verbind. Min kans gehad vir speel en baljaar, behalwe vir die tradisionele einde- van-die-jaar-familiekuiers op Hartenbos.
CP het sy pa vroeg verloor, reeds om en by 1961, wat beteken dat hy toe maar 6 was. Ons trek van die Weskus na Hartenbos toe het sonder uitsondering oor Jan Fourieskraal gegaan waar Ant Rose se plaaswinkeltjie vir ure se pret gesorg het. Die weeg van die rys, suiker, droë bone ens.op die ou skaaltjie met die koper gewiggies was groot pret en die geldjie wat ons daarmee verdien het,het lekkergoed gebring. Hierdie ekonomie het gewerk! Maar die pret van nefies se saamspeel was onvergeetlik. Agter die huis teen die groot grondwal is paadjies en bergpasse uitgekerf en aan die voet van die ou “berg” die mooiste plase uitgelȇ en bedryf! Dinky Toys was toe groot. Langs die treinspoor wat vlak agter die werf verby geloop het, het ons vergeefs probeer om, as deel van “cowboys & crooks”, die trein te laat ontspoor: die klippies wat ons so skelm op die spoor geplaas het telkens die lug ingeskiet as die trein verby stoom. Van die ouer neefs en niggies het ons, in ons eie verbeeldingswȇreld, bykans vergeet!
Kuiers op Kruisrivier by Tant Babs ( nog ‘n sussie van ons ma’s) was ewe groot pret. Draf met die skuins voetpad na die rivier toe. Swem in die rivier, kleilat gooi en met die windbuks aanlȇ om die bosluisvoels van die koeie se rûens te klits! Stories om die Agastoof as ons aan Antjie se lippe hang.
Hartenbos was egter altyd die hoogtepunt met al die neefs en niggies daar. Die Potgieters uit die Noorde met hul karavaan, Oom Ockie hulle by Bloublasie, Tant Rose se ou reuse “Army” tent met sy vertrekke en ons in ‘n huurhuisie.See en sand, krieket oor die radio, Kakebeenwa-Oukersaand as ons volgens ouderdomsgroepe ons geskenkie gaan haal het, en die reuse Nuwejaar sportbyeenkoms waar een en almal kon deelneem aan Boeresport en atletiek-items. Die Terblanche-en Potgieter-neefs was uitstekend met atletiek en het gereeld bekertjies ingepalm. So ook natuurlik CP! Hy was later rȇrig moeg van al die kakebeenwaentjies wat hy elke keer gewen het!
CP het groot pret verskaf aan oud en jonk. Vir my oorlede pa het hy met oorgawe Cliff Richard se “ Living Doll” gesing en as my pa dan sou sê hy sou hom ‘n geldjie gee, maar hy het nou ongelukkig net ‘n pondnoot, dan was CP vinnig met: “ Ag Oom Johann, gee dan maar die ou pondjie wat!”
Na my eie pa se dood in 1964 het die kuiers voortgegaan en is wonderlike tye beleef. Maar die jare 1961 tot 1964 het ook bittere smart vir ons familie gebring. Dalk meer vir die grootmense as vir ons, maar die onwerklikheid het ook by ons kom lȇ. Oom Louis, CP se pa, is oorlede, Ouma Alet het terminaal siek gelȇ by Tant Babs op Kruisrivier en toe die seerste seer toe Oom Kerneels en Tannie Estertjie verongeluk het en twee neefs en twee niggies wees gelaat is. Ons nefie Niel was maar 6 en Essie so 12. Daarna my eie pa. En die lewe bewys weer eens hoe broos en verganklik ons is.
Soos dit moet, stap die lewe vir ons ander aan en bring die realiteit van grootword ook stelselmatig afstand as elkeen sy eie pad begin loop. Toenemend so as die ouers begin wegval, neefs en niggies trou en pad vat, elkeen sy loopbaan uitkerf en kinders kry. Nuwe familiekringe word gebou en die lewe hardloop met ons almal weg.
Ek kan nie eers onthou wanneer ek vir CP as jong man ná universiteit weer gesien het nie. Dit is hartseer, maar waarskynlik die natuurlike verloop van die lewe. Dit is bykans asof neefs en niggies voor die warm son van die dag verdwyn as jy jou eie son geniet met vrou en kleingoed.
Tog verander dinge weer as jou naderende sonsondergang meer dinktyd en nuwe perspektief bring. Bloed is per slot van sake dikker as water! Na vele jare van afsloof vir oorlewing, blokkies afmerk in jou werk en ouerskap, kom daar weer tyd vir terugkyk, nostalgie en verlange. Dit was Etna se insig om eerste ‘n saamkuier te reël op Vermont, waarna nog ‘n paar gevolg het – ‘n verfrissende vars kontak wat die nostalgie kom salf het en die meeste van die neefs en niggies weer bymekaar gebring het. Tog vreemd hoe die lewe loop en mens gedurende die middelfase voortstoom in die rotresies.
Hoe dankbaar is ons nie nou vir die weer-vind van ons eie bloed nie, die heerlike lag vir staaltjies uit die verlede, geseënde saamwees oor lekker kos en wyn en die diepe besef van dankbaarheid vir geleende tyd.
Ou CP, jou vertrek was so onvoorspelbaar vining, veels te vroeg, en boonop gaan jy die Potties-reünie mis! Ou neef, rus sag, en mag ons ander gespaar bly om die 7de Augustus met ‘n traan in ons lag ook jou lewe te kan vier op Kruisrivier Jy sal daar wees by ons en in ons harte.
The everlasting quest for purpose – show me one human-being who has not grabled , at one stage or another, with his or her destiny and purpose on this planet! It is central to our journey to the end of time (for us) and the very reality of being.
Life is a journey with so many twists and turns, but in the end the journey is more important than the end. I know there are people with a conflicting views and who truthfully believe that the end is the goal and the crowning. I respect their view and wish them well. Fact is that we are here now on a planet so fragile that unless we ‘superior beings’ do something during our stay, nothing will remain to be enjoyed and experienced by those still to arrive.
Not to hit and run a zillion butterflies! I have never in my life seen more butterflies celebrating life. Neither have I seen ostrich chics bathing in a thunderstorm waterpuddle. Life is indeed beautiful and in many ways incomprehensible. Who are we humans? What do we know? How wise are we? We know greed. We know how to kick those who are down.
Ever seen butterflies docking like yachts in a yachtclub? Zillions, and how long do they endure? The circle of life. What do we know?
Let us not forget the little ones!
The joy of the dancing grasses in a light breeze stock-piling the foodstores!
A revelation of universal truths man should learn from nature and creation.
It is January 2021 during the times of Corona and our escape to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park brought us to ‘Springtime’ during summer in this arid and oft unforgiving land.
It is our first visit during summer. Safaris to this most northern part of South Africa are mostly done during winter. Temperatures can easily reach 40 degrees Celsius during the day. Believe me!
This arid land has an average rainfall of between 200 and 350mm, but The Infinite Divinity has blessed all of creation here with an ability to survive and a morality far surpassing that of man. Man has interfered yes, as boreholes were sunk to supply additional water. Shows some compassion, but nature provides for a supreme order to ensure that life continues and species are protected.
All of the fauna and flora are bursting of joy after the wonderful rains in December. It is a time of blessing and immense grace. It is a time of birth. Family-time.
Never before have I seen so many ostrich chics, springbok lambs, gemsbok, red hartebeest and blue wildebeest calves – and butterflies! Life is bliss and truely laidback!
But – Although there is abundance for now, there is no greed, there is no abuse, there is sharing, there is eqilibrium.
Just spend a few moments at the upper end of Kenridge dam observing the ‘Jupiter- Saturn – conjunction’ with Rosebud, Rozanne and oupa’s two Bloemie princesses. Lia and Amelie right on top of the Fortuner’s roofrack. A moment in time, a memory forever.
Moments make life. Life is art, is a complex puzzle. So many pieces.
Who or what will we be at the next great Conjunction?
I am not sure if it is a direct consequence of the year of the pandemic or merely one of growing older and not having enough to do in retirement. Well, the latter is partly in my own hands and partly not, I suppose. The pandemic no doubt (in my mind) turned the world upside down in many ways, despite what the advocates of conspiracy theories may argue.
Life is a blessing they say. Life is hard, others say. Life sucks, the unhappy say. Life is good, indeed very good, a few say. Live Life and be grateful, the disabled say. There is no other Life we know, the downtrodden sigh. Life is not fair, the grieving say. Life is a golden opportunity says the optimist. Life is about humanity says the philanthropist. Life is not for us to comprehend some say.
Life is real – very real.
The pain in my chest is not fear of death. The pain in my chest is longing for my child and my grief that endure. C S Lewis said: “No one ever told methat grief felt so like fear”. The pain is fear and anxiety for the mental and physical well-being of my wife and my children on this shattered and contaminated planet. It is concern for my grandchildren. The pain is anger. The pain is the inability to change things.
The pain in my chest is an intense desire for a just society – for humanity. A burning desire for understanding.
The pain in my chest is angst.
Small Pain In My Chest
by Michael Mack
The soldier boy was sitting calmly underneath that tree. As I approached it, I could see him beckoning to me. The battle had been long and hard and lasted through the night And scores of figures on the ground lay still by morning’s light.
“I wonder if you’d help me, sir”, he smiled as best he could. “A sip of water on this morn would surely do me good. We fought all day and fought all night with scarcely any rest – A sip of water for I have a small pain in my chest.”
As I looked at him, I could see the large stain on his shirt All reddish-brown from his warm blood mixed in with Asian dirt. “Not much”, said he. “I count myself more lucky than the rest. They’re all gone while I just have a small pain in my chest.”
“Must be fatigue”, he weakly smiled. “I must be getting old. I see the sun is shining bright and yet I’m feeling cold. We climbed the hill, two hundred strong, but as we cleared the crest, The night exploded and I felt this small pain in my chest.”
“I looked around to get some aid – the only things I found Were big, deep craters in the earth – bodies on the ground. I kept on firing at them, sir. I tried to do my best, But finally sat down with this small pain in my chest.”
“I’m grateful, sir”, he whispered, as I handed my canteen And smiled a smile that was, I think, the brightest that I’ve seen. “Seems silly that a man my size so full of vim and zest, Could find himself defeated by a small pain in his chest.”
“What would my wife be thinking of her man so strong and grown, If she could see me sitting here, too weak to stand alone? Could my mother have imagined, as she held me to her breast, That I’d be sitting HERE one day with this pain in my chest?”
“Can it be getting dark so soon?” He winced up at the sun. “It’s growing dim and I thought that the day had just begun. I think, before I travel on, I’ll get a little rest ………. And, quietly, the boy died from that small pain in his chest.
I don’t recall what happened then. I think I must have cried; I put my arms around him and I pulled him to my side And, as I held him to me, I could feel our wounds were pressed The large one in my heart against the small one in his chest.
Having been “imprisoned” since end of March, the eventual ‘breakout’ was highly anticipated.
18 August 2020 – permission to travel for leisure again. A little time to prep the caravan, arrangements for Emma and off on 8 September, with our first overnight at The Growcery at Vioolsdrif on the banks of the Orange river. The memory of my first visit to this arid land without doubt: scorpions! And we were not let down at all!
Only we, Sas, who manages this normally very busy river rafting spot and his many Australian cattle dogs – a domesticated cross with dingos!
Although just a one night stand, our pawed friends made quite an impression and we left with pleasant memories.
It has been a good season for this arid semi- desert part of our fragile planet. You know this when the Richtersveld shows colour other than shades of brown and grey.
An endless land. Past Eksteenfontein and Kuboes to Sendelingsdrif, port of entry to the park and of course Namibia via the pontoon.
Potjiespram campsite was unfortunately a huge disappointment, but we knew the De Hoop site would make up for it. First the passage through the Akkedis pass, which now, having traversed the pass before with sweaty hands and pumping heartbeat, seemed fairly easy.
Four days at De Hoop. Bliss, save for the more than usual number of vehicles – all Covid-escapees, mostly from up north. The very best post-‘imprisonment’ rehab ever. The tranquility of the slow flowing Orange river, the soothing sound of the water through the nearby rapid, the birds coming to say hi, the flickering flames of the fire, the ‘roosterkoek’ and the evening quiet. Paradise not lost, but profoundly found.
This place carves into one’s heart as youthful lovers would into the bark of an old tree. A memory tattooed from within. You will be back. You know this with your whole being.
Time stopped running during 2020, but the calendar not. Everyone had to adjust. Pensioners too. You see – work and career are all about time. Time is of the essence when you work to fulfill dreams and earn. To grow (in wealth) and to gather. Also in spirit, I suppose. All about purpose. All as per upbringing and Life. Off course it all makes sense – Life is a journey – enjoy the ride they say.
But what about pensioners and when Time’s sunset approaches? When you are still young you evolve naturally, adjust with much more ease, but pensioners not. They consume more time on reflection not only because they have more time to kill, but more than often dream ‘backwards’. It’s the circle of Life they say.
To us 2020 and the pandemic brought a state of oblivion – sliding, sinking, slipping and drinking us into oblivion. Is it time lost? Wasted? Not really, for some maybe. But for some it brought a time for new things and for appreciating Time. Reading more than ever, learning more again, exploring new things that can enrich and add value to Life. Gardening, cooking, baking (mostly sourdough), and clearing out dust covered possessions to momentarily call up a memory or two, but mostly because we have time to kill as Time is running out. There is a time to collect, and a time to cast away.
Dreams we have plenty of time for, even more so us pensioners taking an afternoon nap. Not the best utilization of time I venture. This is also the time that the magic of the movies adds to our dreams!
Go watch it – sorry, DVD it – nope stream it! Magic is not only for kids, it is for us too. What would I not have done if I had the ability to time travel! My life would have been shorter, but all of my children would have fulfilled their dreams to the full. More time with parents? More regard for this planet and its creatures, who knows – only Time.