(I wrote this piece earlier this year in the summer time, only getting around to posting it now though)
When I got home from the office last night, Hlubi suggested that we take a drive to the farm. She had a stressful day. Being summer, the sun goes down nice and late and the evening was pleasant after the light rain of the day. We lingered at home though. We did not leave straight away. No big deal, but Hlubi fiddled in the kitchen, got dressed, took a few calls and spent some time waiting for an item to come up on the TV News.
|Olive Woodpecker – Photo Mandisa Hewitt-Coleman – July 2015|
By the time we got to the farm it was almost dark. We missed that magic time just before sunset, when the birds go crazy, when the wind has died down and the sky is filled with a special light. That time where everything feels slightly electric, poised, pregnant. We ate our supper at the farm. We boiled the kettle on the gas burner, made a cup of tea and then we were off back home again. It was nice and it helped me remember that this too is a law of the farm. The sun goes down at sunset. There are no extensions of time. There is no appeal processes. It does not matter how big a crowd you are able to muster in political protest, it does not matter how much money you have. The sun will set at it designated time. This is a law of nature and it is the law of the farm. Why is it important to reflect on such an obvious fact? Why? Because we have moved into an era where many of us are lead to believe that there is nothing constant, anything can be negotiated, changed or postponed. We can “re-wind” television for heaven’s sake. We can get a re-mark on our test. We can return the crème bule to Woolworths if it was a little too lumpy. We can vote out our governments. We can sell our shares. We can divorce our husbands. We can enlarge our breasts and whiten our teeth. Those of us that are distracted and have little time to ponder may develop the world view that nothing is constant, that we as individuals are the centre of our universe and all can be modified to meet our desires and our feebleness. But the farm tells us that life is not like that. The sun sets at sunset. The apple ripens not when you want it to, but when it has spent the adequate amount of days on the tree sucking in the nutrients built in the leaves from the rays of the sun. The rain will fall when the clouds become too heavy for them to hold onto their moisture any more. The rain will not wait for you to have brought the goats in from the field; the rain will not wait for you to have completed the repairs on the dam. The rain will come, ready or not.
Because there is a softness that comes over those of us that think that everything is flexible and anything can be negotiated. A certain lack of urgency descends over us. Without an order or a rhythm we descend in to a timeless binge of Xbox, beer and pornography. Nothing matters, everything is the same and “what does it matter anyhow?” We see this when casinos and malls are trying to trap us to give them our time, our money and our energy. They do all they can, they don’t want us to know when the sun rises, when the sun sets, when the rain falls or when the wind blows. The clever minds that run these awful places know that even a little contact with the absolute rhythms of the earth, like day and night, winter and summer, may jolt us back to a reality and out of the clutches of the trap that they have invested so heavily in constructing for you and me.
The farm, gives a rhythm and an everyday reminder that something’s are just not flexible. Not everyone can live on a farm, but all of us can begin to live a life that puts in place some non-negotiable. How about an half an hour of quiet reading in the morning before everybody else wakes up? How about a 30 minute run or a few pushups in the bathroom before your shower? How about 15 minutes quiet time writing in your journal with your 10 o’clock coffee? Do this every day. Make it non-negotiable, because you say so, because you insist, because you know that you come out of a line of ancestors that moved to a rhythm you have now been robbed of. Because you know that if you don’t give yourself this time, it will somehow be stolen, be wasted away to the TV, Facebook, beer, soccer and shopping. They win. You lose. They gain your life and your energy, you lose your freedom!