Tag Archives: fear

Ambivalence Anonymous

I write to stay sane. I write to recover. I write to discover.

The past two weeks saw my three greatest irritations and problems get solved, pretty much taking care of themselves. I know my top three problems and irritations by the amount of prayer time they usurp.

These three issues were not so serious or insurmountable, nor were they that threatening. They did cause me stress and admin though:
– Noisy neighbours weekly upsetting me with inconsiderate actions, representing the worst of what I associate with certain stereotypes.
– Two maxed out credit cards.
– A colleague I needed to fire, but didn’t want to give up on and threatening labour issues.
These may seem innocuous in the bigger world of serious problems, but they were three little foxes eating away at me on a personal level. What they had in common is that I could not resolve them by myself. I could exert pressure and hope that with enough time my fortunes change, but events outside my direct control brought the bother to me.

Then, just like that, in two weeks: my neighbours move out, SARS pays me a tax return exactly as big as my debt and the unruly staff member resigns. Boom. Bang. Problems gone. Out of the blue, the blues disappeared.

And then the weird anti-climax, the melancholic ambivalence, the what-now, the day after passing metric, the hour after getting your license, the dissatisfaction and the unchuffed tardiness set in.

It’s the weirdest thing, a complete lack of joy and celebration in a situation that is supposed to leave me exuberantly joyous and celebratory.

As I reflect on this weirdness of feeling, I can think of three explanations:
– Fear: I am scared that these familiar problems might be replaced by greater challenges…better
the devil you know.
– Guilt: A Calvinistic guilt and unease for receiving something I did not deserve or make
happen…grace can be a bitch.
– Sadness: A sense of loss when pity and frustration makes way for abdication and abnegation.

In stead of being happy, it is as if I am waiting for the replacements to enter the stage. How silly and sad it is? Sad, because I have been slapped by life so often it seems normative. Silly, if I start self-fulfilling the fears by looking for and creating the replacement issues. Like a fighter who will beat up people, until he inevitably meets his match that clobbers him well. One can argue people who like to fight with their fists are on a masochistic journey of cursed curiosity, in that every victory bring them closer to the proper defeat that inevitably awaits them.

I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be the guy who is ok to take a stress holiday, a break from irritation and difficulty. I want to be the guy that can learn from the rhythms of tolerance, patience and relief.

I want to be the guy who can smile at pressure and ridiculousness.

I want to be the guy with a smile that can be entertained without harbouring bitterness;
– The guy who can smile ironically without sarcasm.


Strong chin
Stubborn shoulders
Smart feet
Quiet lips
Resilient heart
Purposeful hands
Far seeing eyes
Layered ears
Grateful thoughts


a clean conscience.

Ubuntu Starts in the Mirror

Power is the ability to choose. The ability to choose to act and to influence. But before we reach the question of choosing what; there is the issue of simple choice and whether someone has the freedom to choose, whether they sense the freedom to choose.

This boils down to two things: hope and self-confidence. If I do not have an expectation of a better tomorrow and a confidence in my own worth and abilities, i will not be free to make great or even good choices.
I wrote this as a reflection on the obstacles to alleviate poverty, analyzing why people are stuck in destructive and stagnant patterns.

But as these principles are true as reasons why ‘the poor’ do not lift themselves out of material need, so they are equally pertinent as causal factors for the so called ‘rich’ to be stuck in lives of mediocre enslavement, addiction and fear.
The rich isolates themselves into clusters of gadget, style and security seeking robots and they lose hope in a life of meaning, dignity, sacrifice and learning. The chuck hope and settle for comfort. Why? The same reason as to why the youth living in a shack does not risk spectacular failure: the insecurity of self, the lack of really liking and loving yourself leaves you tied to the opinion of your ‘peers’ and you are to damn scared to be different.

Rich and poor… So close to each other, such identical struggles; yet we think we have nothing to share or talk about, besides the usual giggling about chicken feet, praising the rhythm of Africans, painting walls and daydreaming about fancy cars…Not sure if its sad or funny.