Late in 2009, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to write a column for City Press‘ City Pulse, which is what the entertainment and lifestyle supplement was called – it is now called 7. It is always interesting for one to go back and revisit thoughts and ideas expressed and, as a result of that process, I will be posting some of those past pieces starting with the first in September 2009. These are the unedited versions. These are dated when I wrote them as to when they were published. This is the first.
This has probably been one of the most nerve-racking pieces of writing I have had to do. It is like going out with someone for the first time. You are never quite sure what to wear, where to go and how much of yourself to share. (Yes, even the guys, although I know the brothers will be reluctant to admit that.) You want to make a good impression but it is also important to be you and do you. Well, this is our first date, my palms are sweaty and my heart is beating fast as I reach into the crevices for the (w)rite words to say.
A friend of mine was recently breaking down a theory he had around a critical requirement of being a writer – thought. Often we look to the ability to delicately mould words into a beautiful kaleidoscope of colour and forget that, to write, one must be able to think. There needs to be substance to the thought process before we get to the communication of that thought, which is what writing is. I’m a hip hop fan but will be the first to admit that, sometimes, I have no idea what some of these rappers are talking about because, while the words may sound cool and beautifully strung together, there is no clear thought or message being communicated.
So, here I sit, grappling with the best way to demonstrate that I will do everything in my power to create an experience that encourages interaction, discussion and debate on anything and everything that life has to offer. When asked to define self, I consider writer and poet to be the lesser of the roles I fulfil in this world. It is as a father, husband and son that I think I can contribute, especially as a father.
Growing up, I was always a lot more comfortable with the idea of children than with that of a wife, purely because I was raised primarily by my father from the age of one. I watched my father be both mother and father to me and figured a man was just as capable of nurturing a child as a woman. That I would have to have a woman to help me create this child was a bit of a challenge but I have been blessed in this life, and became a lot more comfortable with the wife thing as time passed. And I come to recognise that we all need both parents. While we may be able to survive without one, that is not the ideal.
So I am a husband. But, I am also a father. It is one of life’s clichés that having a child changes you for life, but it is absolutely true. Until my son was born, I thought I knew what life was about and had this great master-plan to create an eternal legacy, though I didn’t have a clue what for. That changed on one Wednesday afternoon. After getting over the initial shock and trauma (nearly passed out in delivery room), I found a comfort, and a purpose, that cannot be explained. It truly is one of those life experiences, like marriage, that cannot be explained. All the words in the world pale in comparison.
The boy is only 2 and I have already learnt the most profound of life lessons from him. One. I understand why my father still (seems to) love me despite some of my more dramatic escapades when growing up, like writing-off his car. Two. I have discovered that I actually need a lot less sleep that I thought I needed up to that point, and that if that sleep is broken every couple of hours, I can still function. Three. I have learned that, often, by doing the thing you really don’t want to do now, you ensure that there will be peace in the long run, i.e. if going on short drive, it’s good to change nappy just before departure because a full nappy halfway there means cranky, miserable baby for half the drive. Four. While there is no such thing as too much information, don’t get caught up in theory. Acquire as much theory as possible, but then go with the flow.
Who knows what the future holds and what other lessons are still to come but I am hoping that I will be able to share mine and learn from yours, in this space. I was taught that, when you arrive in a new place, it is only right and respectful to greet, introduce oneself and explain why you has come. This is a new space and experience for me, and this serves as my official greeting. Like so many lovers of words, I have an opinion on most things and will openly and honestly share these with you and look to you to do the same.
From the trivial to the serious, our progress as a society and as a species is dependent on our ability to engage, without conflict, and find common ground. There are no limits in this space. Whether we are talking culture, language, music or relationships, technology and business, we should be able to speak freely. It is only by doing so that we can start to connect.
We live in interesting yet critical times where each day is another moment carved into the history of the human race. What we do with each day will determine how those who follow us shall live and we are, therefore, duty bound to do all we can to ensure that they do not look back at us with bitterness, anger and disappointment.