So, I’m 25.


It was almost exactly a year ago when I sat behind my desk with steam cup of instant coffee and my dulling blue bedroom slippers writing “Turning 24“.

On that day, I remember feeling as though I would have wanted to be carried by the wind,
Dissolved from my physical form and Absolved from any feeling.

But,

As much as I submitted to the howling winds of the Cape, my feet have somehow remained anchored to the ground, my physicality remains somehow sustained.

Here I am, 25.

This year has gone past in a flurry that has read like the scaling climax of a novel who’s ending remains an enigma – even to the author. The chaos that has captured every aspect of my life has both dulled my senses to the point where “feeling” is something I try at all odds to avoid, whilst at the same time I have come to understand that,

Iron sharpens Iron.

Adversity breeds triumph.

And that no one can make it out of “this” alone.

What a year.

Writing, reading and speaking on a daily basis has formed part of the ritual defining the present form of my being as I desperately gather the will to educate myself in the hopes of understanding how we got here and how we can get out of it.

Writing,
Gave me the strength to understand and believe that I could forge meaning with my own hands. Demonstrating to myself that my thoughts had value beyond the unspoken wanderings and chirping that used to disappear into the ether of bars, classrooms and corridors. It allowed me to express that which I was consistently encouraged to suppress.. and most of all it opened a Pandora’s box.

Reading,
Gave me the affirmation and humility to understand that we are not the first nor are we the last. When forced into a position of silence, trapped in the thoughts of only one, we can make the mistake of thinking our problems are unique. I know this is something I have always struggled with.. and reading opened my mind to the minds of others in a way that continues to be both extremely painful and simultaneously essential to the vitality of my being.

Speaking,
Is my favourite thing. Perhaps to my detriment.. but the act of speaking in the presence of other provides a thrill like no other. The co-creation made possible through the collective energies, tensions and antagonisms in a room are meshed together in a concert of emotion, sound and language that goes beyond anything I have been able to imprint on any page.

These three things, together – often in disharmony – provided the infrastructure that kept my life together in the midst of the security that I went on to burn, willfully, as hard earned as it was.

..

“I won’t work for weapons”.

Those where the final words in a parting conversation with my former manager that set myself onto a path of instability and resulted in the clumsy and painful separation between myself and the funders that had once inspired me to embark on a career in Science and Technology. I came to realise that, through asking simple questions, the environment I had found myself in was both deeply problematic but also a fascinating and foreboding taste into the truth behind the machinery of “South Africa”. Surrounded by apartheid military artifacts, and a masters dissertation that, like most, is utterly pointless to anyone but myself, it didn’t take much for me to sink into depression. Stifled from being able to think, hell even to breathe.

Occupation.
#RhodesMustFall literally came at a time that both saved my life and utterly destroyed it. Arriving at the occupation of the university administration building it was never clearer to me that decisions had to be made – and by that I meant personally. It was one thing to read about things. To write pretty, painful and colourful things. It was another thing to put my time, my future and my safety on the line for those words.

Text has begun to gain texture through experience.

For months I have been surrounded young people that continue to utterly astound me. They are more of them around than I care to count. Fearless, to some extent. And determined. I began to understand love, friendship-comradeship, and depression in a completely different context than before.. And I can’t help but feel that, for better or worse, a path to a new future – that didn’t exist before – has opened up in the sky.

..

My Masters.
What can I say about it?
I’ve tried to quit it, I really have. But I have also learnt that for the short term I really have nowhere else to go. The constraints and realities of life have orchestrated, with my begrudging guidance, to trap me in the mundane generation of self indulgent document for one more year. To some extent, I think, I am in a state of paralysis. Confused – yet clear, about what the future looks like. Unable to find the intermediate steps towards a dream that looks more and more distant.

For now I will have to make the most of what I have,

as Mum always says.

“How are you?”
I’m sorry that this is a question that I cannot answer for you. I have many words for many things but the psychological paralysis incited by the death of my old conceptions of my future have left a gaping hole in the part of my heart that was able to convey the meaning that gives “sense” to the response of question like this.

Of one thing I am sure,
I am here, kicking, breathing – and alive.

Father. And family
I want to use these word in a broader sense that goes beyond those who are physically intended to embody their meaning.. This has been a year of antagonisms between myself, the “Father” and the “Family”. Having embarked, in my own small way, on a political journey of sorts – the greatest resistance has grown from my “home”, the most infiltrated of all spaces by the devil of the white power structure, the family.

Never before have I been more discouraged from writing, reading, speaking – damn even thinking – than I am at this very moment. The “fear” of what follows the language of the expression of desire for liberation has caused so much anxiety in the older generation that one can barely hold an honest conversation without wishing to retreat in tears, shouting or even fighting.

Sigh.


Relentless.

That’s somehow what this past year has meant to me.
A drive at the put of my stomach to continue and unlock a tidal wave of.. something..

Inside?
Inside.

Relentlessly fighting with my own mind, taking twice as much energy to lift my head of my pillow than I did just yesterday.

Fear – abject Fear.
Of future,
Of the resolution of debt,
Of becoming a failure,
Disowning,
Of ultimately being disappointed.

Caught in a sea of contradictory societal and economic privileges, questions arise that are difficult to answer,
Ethically.

What must happen??

..

Caged,
While a growing number of folks from a distance roar and cheer towards me from behind bars. Smiling at a distance, feeding me from time to time,

All the while my zoo keepers,
jailers and the like.

Attempt to confine and restrain me to a life in the protection of concrete ceilings.

Fear,
Of,
Getting exactly what I want.

Self Determination.


You know,
I often joke – while shivering in the chilling Cape cold – that “I’m born for warmer climates”

And yet,

Slowly I am coming to confront the honest truth of the reality that underpins my rosy and warm imagination of “Africa” that has captured my heart and given me safe habour in the midst of confusion.

The truth is,

The cold belongs here too.

On to one more year.

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2 thoughts on “So, I’m 25.

  1. This is the most beautiful piece I’ve come across in a long, long time! Like you said, reading reminds us that our situations are not unique and we are neither the first nor the last to feel the way we feel or go through the things we’re going through. I cannot begin to imagine the extent or gravity of the things that led to this post. But you so clearly articulated thoughts I’d, for long, failed to form. Probably for fear of confirming them…lol. This is such a wonderful piece, Brian. Now following and looking forward to reading more of your stuff. In fact, you just might have unlocked a thought or two. Kudos!

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