A new beginning

A new beginning

The giraffe’s head is clear to see in the south-eastern sky at the hour we drifted into the New Year and the new decade. Many of us have made their resolutions and the quest for the moment is to see them through at any cost. We have made it a culture to commit to a few resolutions with the advent of any new year, and some of us do stick to the bucket list and see what they have resolved to do come to be a reality.

It is a wonder that those who fail never look back at the year in retrospect and take a forensic look at what actually led to the failure of their plans. I think the lead reason to the failure is that the resolutions are made too late; we should actually start working on our annual plans in the middle of the preceding year, that is, we should first clean out the toolbox in order that we can see which pieces are missing or in a bad state so that we can see what needs to be bought or supplemented. The toolbox, whether literal or metaphorical is the most important part of any dream or wish for it is in its contents that the success of any resolution lies.

It was in the years 2003-2004 that one met himself for the first time. It was after a stint in rehab and this old lady (aunt Marie Botha) handed me a book as a parting gift, a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. This copy has stayed with me ever since, and I constantly return and turn its leaves to read of the wisdoms contained therein. There are quotes on almost many of the core issues of the human condition, and among them is the issue of time which is closely related to the resolutions we often make at the beginning of each year.

The resolutions we make are not made alienated from time, they walk hand in hand with time, for the decisions contained in them are often based on a scale of time. Kahlil Gibran through the voice of Master has this to say on Time:

And an astronomer said, Master, what of Time? And he answered: You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable.
You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons.
Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you sit and watch its flowing.

Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness,
But if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons,
And let to-day embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.

All that we do is divided into boxes of time, for in every essence we are living on borrowed time, it is the only entity in our existence that cannot be controlled but which is adhered to whether we like it or not. A minute lost is never recovered, and a second can be the determinant to one’s success or failure, so should we be constantly aware of the importance of sticking to time.

A teacher of mine in high school (Ntate Tšele David Thokoana) would come with these idioms of expression “Time and tide wait for no man,” often supplemented by “A stitch in time saves nine”. These words did not make sense until one grew old enough to be aware of the issue of time. The beginning of the year should be foreseen at the end of the preceding year because then one might miss a lot of important factors related to time if they do not plan ahead. The biggest hope is that most of us are aware of the prominence of time when it comes to planning: everything has a time frame and there is no way we can hope to succeed outside of its frame.

There are few individuals gifted with (or maybe more aware of time) who possess a level of foresight that aids them and those around them achieve most of the plans they make in the course of a season or a year. These ones are those individuals that are aware of the importance of time in the past, the present, and the future. The three spheres of time all play a different role in the determination of the success of an individual or community plan. A look at the past shall reveal where the errors that led to the failure of a plan are, the present gives room to correct the errors so that they are not repeated in the future. There are moments of repose where one can assess their progress, and they should be respected and adhered to.

There is just no way that one can plod on or just blunder into plans without assessing their progress if they do not want them to fail. The failure of many of the New Year resolutions lies in their progress not being assessed from time to time. Sometimes, the failure of the individual to be self-critical leads their ignoring the importance of constant self-assessment which is important in the measuring of the level of progress.

Those who plan to succeed actually keep a journal or a diary. The former is there to note the events in every passing moment, and the latter is there to jot down plans in the moment or ahead. The reality of the matter is that time should not be just be viewed in the context of the clock ticking on the wall, there is a need for the clock of time to tick in turn with the beating of one’s heart. One should always be aware of the passing of time if the years are to be kind.

Those that have moped or screamed about being unfortunate can often trace the root to their failure in the ignorance of the importance of time when making plans for the future. To be aware of time is to be aware of life itself, and those that treat time as the core of their life succeed because they face the reality that we are living on borrowed time on this journey we call life.

Life is a journey and like any other journey, it follows a certain road, and life’s road is like any other road one travels on in their journey of life. Any journey on any road is bound to have the centre of the road which one follows on their brief or long pilgrimage to their intended point of destination. The intended point of destination is the primary goal one focuses on in their travel from their point of departure, and what happens along the way is determined by either the forces of nature or specific conditions and demands of the journey.

Think of it this way; when one leaves on a trip, there is bound to be the primary focus on the destination but how long it will take is determined by such natural needs as the need to rest, the need to answer calls of nature like feeding to sustain levels of energy for the completion of the journey, the need to serve such toilet necessities as the visiting the bathroom when nature calls. Finally there is the vital need to observe what is on the road and the road’s side because it counts in the making of the memory of the road and adding to the pleasure of the journey when it gets hard.

At the end of the journey one hopefully gets to their intended point of destination “in time’’, which too is governed by the conditions of travel. Getting to the destination on time is the wish of many individuals that partake of the process of travel from the point of departure to the point of destination, but oftentimes, it is indeterminable due to the simple fact that the travails of the road are unknown to him or her that goes on the journey.

The only comfort lies in the decision to “get there’’ in spite of or despite the conditions of the road. The need to get there should be the ruling thought in the mind of the traveller that chooses to go “somewhere’’ and get there. I have come to realise that on the journey of life, getting to the destination is determined by one simple fact; a singular commitment to getting to the destination ignorant of the hardships one encounters on the road, and the many seemingly unfavourable (and deceitfully favourable) distractions that may sway one from their primary goal to get to their intended destination.

Commit to getting there despite the odds and know, in fact, there will be many encounters on the road to destiny.
As a writer, I often choose to forget the tarmac and forget the white dotted middle line or the straight barrier line. The tendency is to think not of the chevrons or yellow boundary lines on the road; for the road to one’s destination as a writer is an invisible path that can only be followed by one as a writer, and no one else can see it but you: so you follow it on the blank piece of writing paper and soon it shall be seen by the rest of the world as a trail of antsy letters in parallel horizontal lines that stretch across long pages from the prologue to the epilogue, from the foreword to the index, from the title cover page to the blurb on the back page after it falls off the modern day printing press invented over 3000 years ago and perfected by Johannes Guttenberg in the 1400’s. That is how books are written by writers who have typed endless definitive works of expression’s freedom as penned by the best minds of each passing era.

Cigarettes dangling from the corners of their lips, whisky on their breath, forgotten sandwiches on the plate, occasional hash pipes resting in some shelf, LSD in the cells of the brain, and a vision to pen the best tales of the era in their minds, the writers of the different generations seem to have shared a similar dream, seem to have been possessed of one dream; that is, to define the living conditions of the world in the aftermath of the different World Wars or those that are still going on in the present, and to tell the story of the individual in the face of insurmountable odds through the usage of John Thomas Underwood’s magnificent typewriting inventions that went tap, tap, tap, chime!

The words one pens grow into sentences and the sentences grew into pages and the pages into chapters, and the chapters into books that grow into volumes men, women, and children will read for generations. As a newspaper writer, the quest is always to find that story that defines the moment, that truth that needs to be told to the public in the present time. The hope is that this year shall be the year in which the media’s role and its freedoms are acknowledged by the authorities concerned or peripheral.

We live in an era that does not acknowledge the role of the media, an era in which those who want to be surrounded by yes men and yes women take a defensive stance when the media reports on what is going on in government or the corporate world. It has come to a point where the media is threatened in a manner subtle that they should not report on certain issues. I find the manner of the authorities out of time and out of synch with the true tenets of progress. Many of the visions with regard to economic development have failed largely due to the fact that the authorities did not share the finer details of their visions on the media platforms that are available.

Government gazettes are not accessible to all, but newspapers are easily available to anyone that is willing to buy them at any of the supermarkets or stores. Gagging the media with regard to certain issues of governance only means that there will be no watchdogs to warn governments of the dangers of the system of rule, or the errors in the current term of rule. The hope is that 2020 shall prove to be the year that the media is granted its rightful role as the griot to the ruler in power. If the current culture of gagging the media continues, the likelihood is that we shall have other failed Vision 2020’s.

Time lost can never be recovered, time is more valuable than money, we can get more of the latter, but never of the former, time is irreplaceable, for once lost it can never be found again. Many of the resolutions we make lack the most important aspect, time, for far often than less, people speak in years and never in months or days or hours or minutes. We fail because we usually speak of what we shall do next year, and not what we shall do in the next hour or the next day. I hope we take note and start thinking in minutes and not years.

Ts’episo Mothibi

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