Sundays, for me, are for sitting silently. For reflecting. For taking it all in. And today was a lovely Sunday. The sun was out . It was windless. But in that quiet time today it seemed, for the first time, as if everything was beginning to add up. Beginning to make sense and that all the bits were beginning to talk to each other.
I have told you before that I have not really full understood what has driven me to buy Pebblespring farm.
It has been a compulsion that would not let me go. It is something that I have had to do because I know that the regret of having not bought it would be far greater that the sorrow of having tried and failed. But having bought the place, I have been left wondering. What now? Where will I find the money? Where will I find the time? By doing this, am I really doing the best that I can do for my family? and what of my career? Is it not just too weird that this architect would rather spend time with his cattle, his gumboots and his chainsaw than “networking” on the golf course or the banks of the Krom River? If I seem certain to those around me, it is an illusion, because I am constantly in doubt. I am constantly questioning the wisdom of what I am doing.
But today was different. Today I felt certain. Today I knew that for me it has always been about one thing.Today I could see clearly that in fact I have been dabbling over the years in aspects of the same idea. Today, I see that, more than anything else, I demand for myself…. FREEDOM.
Perhaps this burning for freedom came from the time when my freedom was taken from me. When I was locked behind those high fences in training camps and on parade grounds. For two years in the eighties, everyday when I woke up I would think of the time when I would be free. I did not even really know that I was free before that freedom was taken from me. They took my clothes, they took my hair, they told me where and when I would sleep, what I would eat, when I would eat. When I could sit, when I could stand. They told me how I should walk and what clothes I must wear. I had no freedom to choose anything. In the Angolan Border war, in the Townships under siege, I was not free. I was a pawn in their game. But then out of the army, to University in the late eighties, I immediately disregarded thoughts of my on freedom, and what felt like to have lost it. I got caught up in the sense of doing “the right thing” about the ending Apartheid. I took it very seriously, even though the little protests and campaigns we ran were of such a little impact so as to be meaningless in any lasting way.
As I came to the professional world and my first job, I did not last long working for a boss. After two short years I could see that this was not for me and I opted for the relative freedom of going into practice for my own account. Yes, I was free, but I was now married and compelled to earn the money required of a marriage. As the practice grew, I came into partnership with others who would help me to work on ever larger and larger jobs. Things were busy, there was no time to think about freedom. Bigger offices, bigger projects and bigger payrol.
And this is where I am now. I have built a business for myself. It gives me a lot of things, but I am coming to see that it does not give me freedom. Its is my own fault of course. I have built up around me a family who has become addicted to the money that is brought in from our business. We have become addicted to the same things that everyone around us is addicted to. I love my family and I would not have it any other way. But that does not make me free.
But when I am on the farm on a beautiful morning like today, I see a hint. A faint glimmer. A possibility of freedom. A life not without work. A life not outside of society. But a life that does not require me to “keep afloat” a company that pays the salaries of so many people. A life that does not require my to do business with mindless state and corporate machines. Machines that are necessary, if our world chooses to continue as it does, but that are mindless, and need to be mindless in order to function at the scale that they do.
This faint glimmer tells me that I do not have to forget about freedom after all. That it can be achieved and that it can be real and it can be in my lifetime.