Tuesday, April 25, 2006


So I had an accident.
I was driving down the road from Groot Constantia in my bakke. Golden-leaved oak trees lined the road, which was glistening in the late afternoon rain. I was feeling in tune with the world around me, when suddenly the City Council truck in front of me stopped. And an indicator came on telling me that it was turning right. I hit the brakes, and felt my bakkie begin to glide. The men in the back of the truck in front of me were gesticulating wildly – as if I had not noticed that they were approaching faster than I wanted. Their eyes wide, they scrambled away from my approaching vehicle, until they were flat against the cab. And I was flat against the tow bar of the truck. When we assessed the damage it was as follows: CC truck - a mild bend in a frame around the towbar. Bakkie: buckled lights, bent front bull bar, smashed bonnet, and dented ego.

The thing that struck me most was the feeling of helplessness. I did not want to go there, but was inexorably carried to the point of collision. And there was nothing I could do about it. Which has a familiar feeling to it. Because I have had moments when my life has felt as if I was carried along by forces around me.
· I felt this when I went to do military service. Decisions were made about my life that took me to places I did not want to go.
· Although I agreed to go wherever I am needed by my current employer, I have felt this when a committee made decisions about my place of work (and residence).
· I live with the knowledge that there are forces in my life that carry me – perhaps to places I do not want to go.

But in hindsight some of these events have not been crashes. They have turned into opportunities of personal growth and great joy. So pray that the inexorable forces that leave me feeling helpless, can evolve into new opportunities for growth and joy. Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 24, 2006


Remember Pandora? She’s the one who had been given a box by Zeus, who wanted to punish men (not women) for stealing his fire. Epimetheus, who loved Pandora, told her never to open the box. But Pandora's curiosity got the better of her and she opened it. And this released all the misfortunes of humankind (such as plague, sorrow, poverty, crime).

So here’s the conundrum:
was Pandora right to open the box?
In terms of what I have previously written this can be answered either way.
Don’t pick the Fruit: One answer is that she should not have succumbed to the temptation of curiosity – or as I wrote earlier: she should not pick the fruit off the tree. She would sleep peacefully at night, and the world around her would be a safe place without struggle.
Just do it: Another answer is that by shutting down her curiosity she was eliminating the risk that is necessary for spiritual growth. She had to ‘just do it’ in order to be alive. Both are answers are right, and both are wrong.
And this is my personal pain – because I am a dialectical thinker.
I see both sides of the question. And as likely to choose either!

There is, however, a positive ending to the story. Pandora tried to close the box: but all the misfortunes had already escaped. After her initial despair, Pandora "chanced" to reopen the box again, at which point Hope fluttered out. And so humankind always has Hope in times of evil.

And I have Hope when I ask if I must open the box, or leave it closed! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 22, 2006


A line from the movie Braveheart touches me: “All men die, few men ever really live.” Somehow our culture teaches us men to live safe lives. As a little boy I heard the words “be careful" "don’t touch" "watch out”. And they still ring in my ears, turning me away from any action that is risky, or dangerous. My culture encourages me to see each day safely through. But this is not living! Thoreau noted that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”, and Robert Bly comments that the wildness has been driven out of us in search of a “sanitized, hairless, shallow man”. I will not become a boring old fart, sitting out his days in safety.

I believe that we men find our lives nourished when we choose to take risks. It is when we choose to step out of the comfortable into the unknown that we find life. And so I choose to live adventurously. I will drive my motorcycle to new places; I will talk to strangers; and I will listen to the promptings of the unknown God. Because I do not know the way, I will get lost. Because I do not have a 5 year plan, I will wonder what tomorrow brings. When I blunder into unknown territory, I will make mistakes. And when I see the tree, I might one day even pick the fruit.
But I will be alive! Posted by Picasa

Eating the fruit is not important.
It is the decision to take the fruit that matters. Whether we look at the parable of Adam and Eve, or the countless schoolboy escapades with the neighbour’s fruit trees, the issue remains clear: the fruit is desirable and there for the taking. The question is: “Do I take it, or do I choose to leave it?”
This then is the constant theme of life. I have choices. I choose to do one thing and I choose not to do another. The thing that sets us apart from the animals is our capacity to weigh the consequences of our actions, and exercise choice. We then live with the consequences – for we have chosen.

This week two young men were killed in Cape Town: their lives taken away by other young men who chose to pick bitter fruit. I mourn the bitter fruit that was picked.
This week I too have chosen: chosen to leave ripe fruit on the tree. And am at peace.
 Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 21, 2006

Motorcycles gather people! Pull up at the shop and people gather around to look.. Arrive on a bike and other bikers will say hello. Park a bike on a street corner and passers by will cast a glance. And some of the best friendships in the world are cemented around a bike.Tonight I met together with some wonderful biking friends. Friends who have ridden with me through rain and cold. Friends who have sympathised with my fear of gravel roads – and helped me ride them. Friends who have warned me when the speed traps are around. And friends who take me seriously as a person. They hear my joys, and share my fears. And we ride together.And I wanted to express appreciation for friendship. As publicly as possible. So tonight I begin a blogspot. And maybe I will say more about my friends. And maybe they will reply. And maybe I will discover more about myself Posted by Picasa