Monday, August 16, 2010

Coffee, Or No Coffee?

Life. It is one of the most magical and most unpredictable things that no one will ever truly understand – no matter how many spirits they believe they can talk to. There are just so many layers to life. It is too complicated for anyone to see through. Whether you have just studied to become a genius chemical engineer like my insanely clever brother, or whether you are like me – completely lost and unsure of the direction you want to take during your journey on Earth. And what are the odds of having two people so different, yet so connected? Sometimes, actually most of the time, we will just never understand the way certain things were selected.

I will never understand why good people are hit with the emotional and physical disaster of cancer. Like a tsunami that hits your world, when you did nothing wrong. You were just there on the beach when the wave came over. Cancer is the same. You were just there living, when the doctors tell you that for no particular reason – your whole world is about to fall apart. What about the bad people who get away with murder. Literally. Why do they get to be set free? Many of us see this as unfair. “Life is unfair kiddo,” we are told. We don’t understand it, and so we just have to accept it.

I will never understand why this force of nature would give a child to the mother who leaves that baby girl in the downtown trash can as she takes her first breath of fresh air. Why are some people born into homes of luxury and love, while others are born into gangs? Natural born killers. What choice do they have, really?

I don’t know if I believe in fate, or destiny. I don’t know if I believe everything is a coincidence. I do know that I have recognised that the choices we make, no matter how tiny, can affect your whole life. If that young woman had just decided to not have her coffee this morning, she would have left ten minutes earlier for work. That out-of-control truck would have not hit her. She would have been alive. But she is not. She is stone cold dead. That is the result of her life: based on one choice. Coffee, or no coffee? This is how our whole life plays out. Each thing that happens is a result of the choices we make previously. Whether these choices are our destiny, or just pure coincidences? Well, that I am not too sure of.

This is what gets to most of us: the not knowing. We don’t know who we are, and we don’t know what we are supposed to be doing. We spend a crazy amount of time, at some point, trying to figure out what the purpose of life is. We go through phases of “I’m trying to find myself”. We waste time on trying to answer all these unanswered questions, that we simply miss out on the authentic magnificence of the mysteries of life. We try to understand the reason for everything that happens, that we don’t appreciate the beauty of the fact that it did happen. The boy who got stabbed, but met his soul mate in the hospital. The girl who was late for the bank by five minutes, and the bank ended up getting robbed. The child who never had one loving family and goes on to write a bestselling book where he meets his wife and has three beautiful children.

We can torture ourselves and question every single situation, asking “what if?” But that isn’t the way I want to go through life. No. I know my purpose in life: to experience it. And have I found myself? No, I haven’t. But that is what I find so beautiful about life. It is not about ‘finding yourself’. It is about ‘creating yourself!’ So I can fully experience life, and get the most out of it, appreciating all the decisions I made that led me to where I am. I am not sure what direction my life will take next, but I am sure that every single random decision I make will direct the way the path will flow. So ask yourself. “Coffee, or no coffee?”

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

United By the Vuvuzela

It all started on a normal summer’s day a few years back. I was sitting in the passenger seat while my mom was driving her old red VW City Golf. She suddenly stopped driving, not even pulling over, but just stopping dead where she was. I turned around and noticed that all the cars had done the exact same thing. It looked like a scene from a movie. Everyone in their cars turned up the volume of their radios, allowing the sound to pour into the streets and meet, creating one big broadcast. A formal voice was talking, and then said the words everyone was waiting for: “...and the 2010 Soccer World Cup will be hosted by....”

The pause before he announced the country felt like a pause in time – everything was so quiet and still that you could hear your own heart beating.

“...South Africa.”

The streets came alive. The cars were hooting, the people in the cars were screaming, South Africa was smiling. We were about to experience something that not a lot of people will ever get to experience in their life, and we were going to make the most of it. Together. We were going to be the people who are able to say: “I was there.”

As the world cup drew closer, the excitement could be felt in the air. It felt as if the cold winters wind blew hard and spread it from person to person. The soccer jerseys were out, and for the high-heeled-wearing-David-Beckham-loving girls, so were the “Soccer For Dummies” guides. We could all feel it, it was here. The streets were packed with people spreading their excitement, blowing their Vuvuzelas as loud as they could a day before the opening ceremony. If you hadn’t been in the country for longer than a week, you could have never guessed that just days ago were media frenzies about the politics in this country: that there was such a tension between the people of different races that live in this country. No, because there on the street corners – blowing the Vuvuzelas and filling the air with laughter – was men and women of all races, and all ages sharing the experience together. All differences were put aside, and Julius Malema was definitely out of mind. There we were, along with all the foreign tourists, a nation: united by the Vuvuzela.

And so it began... As the first whistle blew, allowing the world to know that the first game of the 2010 World Cup was in play, so did the partying. I will never forget sitting in the bar watching my country on TV play in the opening game. The tension was shared between every single person in that bar. One Goal. That’s all we were waiting anxiously for. And suddenly...


Everyone jumped up. Friends were screaming together, strangers were hugging, drinks were flowing. I felt, for one of the first times in my life, proudly South African: a concept we have been hearing in our country for years. A concept we were supposed to be a part of. But until that exact moment of our first goal scored – I had never felt the unity. I had never felt ‘proudly South African’. We didn’t win that game, but wow, we partied all night as if we did. And that is how the rest of the world cup went – one month full of such diverse people coming together to create one big party. The days were nerve wrecking as we waited anxiously to support our teams, and after each game (and after the smiles were shared and the tears were shed), we would dance the night away into the new day... and then when the next game was on, we’d do it again.

We didn’t win the world cup, but as a nation we had done something that meant much more that winning a soccer game. We pulled it off. People from all over the world came together here and celebrated winnings together, and supported each other through losses. We showed the world that yes – we CAN do it. In fact, we can do anything. The haters, the doubters, the cynics, and the faithless – I don’t hear them speaking up now? No, because they know. We all know. Our country didn’t win the world cup, but we are winners. We pulled it off, all because we came together. Our nation truly was united. United by the Vuvuzela.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Memory On Every Corner

There will always be that one person you don’t want to forget – that one person you have to let go of, even though every bone in your body wants them. Tonight reminds me of him. The cold air hitting me as I gaze among the stars that seem extra bright make me remember him. I remember him, and I remember feeling warm when I was with him, even though the night was cold. It was cold, but not lonely. He is the type of guy that you don’t find very often. The type of guy that you fall for – but not because of his perfection. No, you fall for him because of his flaws. They seem to be so well suited to him, making him who he is, and you could not imagine him any other way. All the imperfections come together to create someone so perfect for you. It is kind of beautiful, really, how putting the flaws together creates something so perfect.

I knew it would never work out between us, there were always the past ghosts from both our sides as well as the inconvenience of distance – so letting go the first time wasn’t just an option, but rather a formality. But now: now when I come here, to this place where the sound of his husky voice could turn my whole world upside down in a good way, I remember him. It is hard not to. There is a memory in every single corner. Every few steps remind me of something he said or did in that exact position. I remember him, and I remember us, and I don’t want to forget it. I don’t want to forget the time we sat on the beach drinking and talking for hours under the cerulean sky. I don’t want to forget the way he made me smile when just moments ago it felt like everything was falling apart. I don’t want to forget the tears he had in his eyes when it was time to say goodbye. As hard as it is to remember, and knowing it is gone, I don’t want to forget. But I guess with a memory on every corner, forgetting is the last thing I will ever do.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Man Who Taught Me Why The Sky Is Blue

It is usually the people that you never expect to even like, that you fall for the hardest. They seem to surprise you, making you see them in a whole new light. Whether it is a small gesture like leaving a rose on the seat for you on the first date, or getting to know that person and falling for how sexy it is that they are so passionate about flying – they have done something to change your mind and give them a second glance. It is like one day you are rolling your eyes every time you get a message from them, and the next day you could think of nowhere better to be than sitting together telling stories behind all your scars: physical, and emotional. Those types of falls are the best: they are unexpected, new, and leave you yearning for the next unforeseen step. It is like experiencing the uncovering of a mystery. But just as there are certain people you never expected to fall for, there are certain people you never expected to be hurt by.

You see, as beautiful as the unexpected can be when beginning something wonderful, it can also break your heart when things unexpectedly end badly. He taught me something new every day. He taught me about flying, about the stars, about Rod Stewart. And while he taught me why the sky is blue, he also showed me how to turn my sky grey. Now I wish I could go back – I would ask him to teach me how to slow my heart beat down, instead of listening to his beating fast. I would ask him to teach me how to keep my head up high and never look back. Now, if I could go back, I would ask him to teach me the signs of false promises, false care, and false intentions. He taught me how to care deeply for him, but he never taught me how to stop.

It is clear to see that the blame is on me in so many ways: I fell for someone who was never really mine. While I gave him care, he gave me the intention to care, and that – that is not enough. So I walked away, and he turned his back: and we are moving on. Him, more so than me. I am still walking alone, but I am walking towards happiness. And while I walk away, I can walk away knowing that this man has left an imprint in my life: this man who has taught me why the sky is blue. I may not ever lie in bed all Saturday morning with him, listening to Rod Stewart again – but now I can listen to Rod Stewart and while relating to his songs, feel less heartbroken each day. “I couldn't have tried anymore/you made a first-class fool out of me/but I'm as blind as a fool can be/you stole my heart and that’s what really hurts/I wish I'd never seen your face/I'll get on back home one of these days.” And just there, in that last line, I see my hope: I will get back home, one of these days.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Riding Between The Trucks

I have this fear. Well, I actually have two different fears that give me the exact same anxious and uncertain feeling. The first is when I am driving in the middle lane on the road – and on either side of me are big loud trucks. I always get so paranoid to drive up next to, or passed these trucks because it always feels like they are coming over into my lane. I know I will be fine, and I shake my uncertainties and drive ahead – but I get this anxious feeling that twists my stomach into knots as I get along with it. The second is, well, him.

When I am with him, I feel like I am riding between the trucks. He has this way of making me feel scared to drive ahead: like I am scared that I will be driven off the road. I get paranoid, and anxious, and a little crazy. I can’t help it – I wish I could. I wish I could just drive in the middle lane, and glide along at a decent pace, but as soon as I get near the two trucks I want to just speed up and get passed them – or more recently, just hit the brakes and get to a screeching halt. I can’t understand why I feel like this, all I do know is that this time – the fear and the paranoia have guided me to cause my own ‘accident’. This time – I am the one to blame for lying here right now hurt, and longing for one more. One more kiss, one more embrace, one more hello.

It is too late to go back and ignore this feeling I get: maybe it is for the better. Maybe it is my mind unconsciously saving me from a greater deal of hurt that might have come. I guess I won’t know though, the mistake has been made, and like most mistakes there is no going back and fixing it. So all I can do now is learn. I can learn to not let this ruin any future relationships. I can learn to listen to my heart, before I allow fear and paranoia take over my mind. I can learn to ride between the trucks: to trust, because after all, loving someone is giving them the ability to hurt you but trusting them not to.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Bitter Sweet Obsession

They say that you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. I say, bullshit. You see, I have this tendency, like half of the other girls I know, to somehow attract these outrageously good actors: each capturing my heart with a different role played intensely well. Lines well learnt, facial expressions precise, and tone perfectly in sync. Any drama teacher would be proud, and audiences would give a standing ovation while exclaiming ‘Bravo!’ after the show these guys put on. I attract them, one after the other, each bringing something new to the game that catches me by surprise.

So why do I seem to be attracted to the vinegar instead of the honey? The honey tastes so sweet, and the vinegar, it leaves that sting of an after taste. We all admit we want the honey, that we are looking for something ‘sweet’ – but deep down I think many of us enjoy chasing after the vinegar. There is something so dramatic and exciting about wanting something you shouldn’t want, about feeling things you shouldn’t feel. It adds some adventure to our boring routine lives. It is like your heart unconsciously falls faster for a bad boy, because it wants to amplify your life a little. I have got to admit, no matter how many times I tell myself and my friends that I wish I could just find a good guy, I am addicted to the vinegar. It is out of my power. Like a bitter sweet obsession. You see, with a good guy, things run smoothly and everything is ‘oobla di oobla da’. With a bad boy, you are constantly kept in suspense of what his next move is: you want something that you can never really tame or have, and that’s what keeps you coming back.

One of the actors in the play of my life actually said to me: “please, you will always want me, you love that I’m a bad boy” (what an egotistical prick), but he was right. I couldn’t get enough of him – in fact, I was completely addicted to him. No one could understand why I was attracted to him in any tiny way – they honestly thought I had permanent Vodka goggles. He left me with a sting time and time again, but I kept going back. Each after taste stung more than the previous, but still – I couldn’t get enough. It was only after I strictly walked out of his life, that I realised he was never going to want me the way I wanted him, and that is where the game ended for me: because once you realise that no matter how obsessed you are with it, the vinegar is never going to give you the sweet taste of honey, you realise that you just can’t handle the stinging after taste for ever.

At the end of the day, you have to decide for yourself whether the vinegar is worth the sting. The honey may be boring, but isn’t the sweet after taste worth it? These actors are quick to capture us – but they are also quick to let on that it is all a show. So instead of waiting around to see how the show plays out, maybe you should walk out of the theatre. You are going to be saving yourself a lot of drama and heartache that way, instead of becoming addicted to him and the mysterious way he plays out. It is something I have realised for myself after many experiences with this bitter sweet obsession. An obsession I have come to realise that leaves too much of a sting. Until you realise that for yourself, let the show go on ;)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How To Be Single

It is like a woman’s quest to find a good looking guy to have on her arm. Once the most recent male departs in the sunset, she is out exploring for the next one to conquer. It is almost as if women are scared to be single – they would rather be unhappy with someone, than be happy and single. You see, when a woman hears the word ‘single’ she immediately pictures herself alone, looking after five cats and watching Days of Our Lives. I don’t know what is scarier: being alone, having five cats, or watching Days of Our Lives. Days of Our Lives, definitely.

You get women who genuinely enjoy the single life – la dolce vita ;) (I will admit - I am one of them). We don’t just say we love to be single and secretly go home, eat a tub of ice cream and cry at the fact that we don’t have anyone special. No. We really and honestly prefer not being in a committed relationship. Not for the cliché reasons that people just tell you to make you feel better about the bastard who just cheated on you and left you heartbroken and even worse – single!
No, we enjoy the singlehood for all the greatness and delight that comes with it.

Like those nights out with the girls? You know – the ones where you promised to never, ever dance on the bar again but after all the free Jagermeister that the cute guy at the bar bought you and your friends, there you are. Breaking it down. On the bar. Those nights that you talk about for the next few days because it was just too much fun: you actually get to have those nights often!

When women get into relationships, they get tied down and let themselves go: they start seeing friends less and less until they just don’t even pretend to try and make an effort; they stop having that spontaneous fun in order to be the ‘perfect girlfriend’; and they change their life so much to fit into the life of their man, that they actually lose themselves. Not always, but a lot of the time it does happen, and so when they get broken up with they ask themselves: “how do I be single?!”

So here is a little bit of advice from someone who knows how to be single the way a professional athlete knows about training routines:

Rule 1: Just because you are single – doesn’t mean you have to be alone.
Those cooking classes you always wanted to take with your man? You are fully capable of taking with a group of friends.

Rule 2: Learn how to dance the night away.
A major factor in the single girl’s life is to be able to go out and have fun – whenever she pleases. Those nights with the girls, really are what makes being single such a lot of fun. Make a routine with your girls to go out once a week – whether it is to have a few cocktails or to dance until sunrise – these are then nights you can let go and really enjoy yourself.

Rule 3: Make decisions, only with yourself in mind.
When you are in a relationship, it is impossible to make outrageous and selfish decisions. Decisions to follow your dreams, or just spontaneous fun decisions. This is your chance to be completely selfish: take a month off to go backpacking and follow that band on their Europe tour, or even just spend some cash that should have gone towards the house on a full-house spa treatment - the word ‘house’ is in there, so technically it is not completely off topic ;)

Rule 4: Make good sexual decisions.
We need to remember that in today’s world: women are never safe. So while it is great to be single and be able to get a nice variety, it is also very dangerous to be in situations that might expose us to diseases or to strange men that could be dangerous. Make sure you get your fun – you have every right to, but just make sure you are safe in every aspect of it.

Rule 5: Enjoy it.
There is no doubt that one day we will settle down, get married and have a couple of kids to carry on our legacy – wooohooo. But until then, enjoy the times you spend while single. Instead of worrying whether you will be alone for the rest of eternity, and getting all emotional about why it never seems to work out with you and relationships: just enjoy it. Enjoy the freedom, enjoy the good times, and enjoy the thought that after all the good single times you are going to find a great man and have a wonderful family.

It doesn’t take much to be single and enjoy it – just a few simple rules that can keep your mind in the right place. There we go ladies, it doesn’t seem so bad – does it? No, once you get the hang of it, being single is anything but bad. Maybe my opinion is just a little biased though, coming from someone who isn’t scared of being single, but rather the opposite. Maybe it is my turn for a change: so while you are all learning ‘how to be single’, I guess I should be learning ‘how not to be single’... hmmmm. Maybe next month ;)