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Friday, 13 October 2017

Taking stock in Koiingnaas

"I shall embark once more on a journey of ecstasy. I shall travel light, for I shall indeed need naught but who I am. I shall hold closely, I shall give freely, and I shall laugh every step of the way. For I am a woman, wanting and willing, to give my love as I may." This short little poem has been a lifelong mantra for me. I wrote it when I was still in my early twenties, and somehow, without planning it, I have managed to fulfill its ideals. And continue to do so.

A road leading into Koingnaas

Today I find myself in Koiingnaas, about 20 km outside of Hondeklipbaai in Namaqualand, South Africa. I did not plan to be here. Things simply worked out that way. It often does so in my life. I have planned to take very few journeys and yet I have managed to see more than most. I have spent the past 2 months leisurely strolling past and through Hondeklipbaai, most often lost in conversation with God about everything and everyone in my life. Finally, sometime during my last week there, I suddenly had the urge to invite someone along on my walks. This was odd, as I put great value on this alone time. I inspected this idea more closely and was astonished to find that I had walked myself out of words. I had nothing left to talk about. Someone else would have to walk along if there was to be any semblance of a conversation. On that particular walk our Father chose to walk and talk with me, sharing some insights I will leave for one of my Bybel Legkaart blogs. On the following walks, I invited others along, as my two month stay had brought many people into my circle of acquaintances and friends. This is not true for Koiingnaas. Not yet.

Koingnaas, a town where water is planned for, not taken for granted

This is why I found myself sauntering off alone on the first of many exploratory walks in and around Koiingnaas. Striking off onto one of the dirt roads, I came across this sign lying on the ground. Obviously my route would take me past the municipal dumps, whichever way I turned. I decided then and there that I would make this a symbolic walk. I would let the landscape direct my thoughts, and I invite you to walk with me. We all need to take these kinds of walk every so often to help us take stock of our lives. And once you have walked with me, perhaps you'll take a walk through your own surroundings and allow yourself the luxury of taking stock as well. I decided to tackle the heavy stuff and head for the bou afval (building rubble). I wanted to inspect the health of the blocks my life was built with.

I liked that this road took me in the direction of the ocean. The idea of this being a cleansing journey was somehow reinforced by this. In the end, I did not reach the ocean, but as this is a symbolic journey, the thought still counts.

Then I reached the first dump site. True to human nature, it had a barricade set up with a faded no entry sign. Is this not what we do when things go wrong or we get hurt? We set up a no entry sign and keep people at a distance. Sometimes we even barricade ourselves out of that pain, so that we don't have to deal with it. But it is necessary to deal with it, if we want the hurt to heal. Lesson learned. Good to encounter this reminder at the beginning of the journey. I made a mental note to remove all the barricades in my life.

Time to keep walking. In the distance I could see the mine dumps where they were excavating the earth in search of mineral deposits. I decided that I would dig deep into my own self, if it proved necessary, to (re)discover my own worth.

Even though I had veered away from the garden rubble, I now found a heap of garden refuse anyway. Again, true to human nature, someone had opted to dump some completely unrelated rubbish here as well. People will do that. They will dump things on you that has no bearing on you whatsoever. They will talk about you and spread lies and rumours that are completely untrue. Don't accept this. Don't let it sit there and fester. Know it for the lie it is and discard it accordingly. You can't stop them from thinking and saying what they will. You can stop yourself from believing them.

I found it wonderfully symbolic when two steps on, I noticed this sign right in front of the garden refuse, reading no dumping. This would be my logo to people I encountered as well. Enough! I am not a dump site for your rubbish any longer.

A little ways on, I came upon this carry bag filled with cement. It seemed like perfectly good cement and I wondered why anyone would have dumped it out here. Then I recalled snippets of conversations I'd overheard with my dad discarding cement during various building projects. Some brands were not bought because they were considered inferior. Sometimes the cement was found to be too old, etc. I can distinctly remember one time when my dad simply refused to buy cement at a special price, even though this would have saved him thousands of rands, because he'd used the brand before and had no faith in it. This made me wonder how often we settle for the bargain price stuff to keep our lives together, instead of investing in quality. Perhaps it is time to take stock of the quality of things like relationships, friendships, religion, church affiliations, etc.? How about taking a hard look at your work while you're at it? Or perhaps the things you spend your free time on, such as television, books, and so forth.

I now approached a sign that pointed in the direction of the dumpsite for hardware. Symbolically, once we had scratched the surface of our introspection, we also reach the point where we need to deal with the hard stuff.

I did not walk all the way over to the dump site, but snapped this quick picture from a distance. Perhaps this in itself is symbolic. Usually, a cursory glance would not do for dealing with the hard problems. It would require putting time aside, perhaps on a regular basis in conjunction with a therapist, to sort through all the rubble that we have allowed to clutter up our lives. I met a woman here in Koingnaas, roughly my own age, who told me snippets of her own life story. It includes childhood molestation, rape, spousal abuse, and so much more. These are the hardware problems of life. When we clean our houses, computers, offices, we often get experts in to help with the cleaning up. Why not when it comes to our emotional lives?

When I came across this discarded half of some sort of vehicle, the artist/crafter in me balked at the idea of it being discarded here. I could imagine myself cleaning it up, slicing through metal to give it an even end and then stacking all sorts of pillows and cushions on it, after mounting it to a wall, to turn it into a lovely settee. This brought me to another idea. When something has lost its purpose, we can either discard it, or re-purpose it. The same is true about our life issues. Take another look at those setbacks you've had. Maybe it's time to rearrange the way you think about them. Perhaps you can now see that they've served a growth purpose, instead of simply pulling you down. The experience does not change, but you can change the way you think about it.

The next thing that caught my eye were these struts. When a support beam topples in, the weight of everything resting on it, comes crushing down on it. Perhaps you had been such a support beam to someone else. Perhaps it is time to go back to that person and apologize for failing them. Perhaps your support beam had failed you. Perhaps it's time to forgive them for doing so.

Sometimes the wheels come off in life. It may be that the whole vehicle gets derailed in the process. If your life has lost traction, it may be that all you need is a new set of tires. What would that be? Perhaps a new vision, or a new work, or simply a new hobby. Perhaps you need to learn a new set of skills. My sister in law's dad was blinded at the age of 36. He could give up on life altogether, or he could acquire the skills with which to cope with his altered life. What do you need to do to get your life back on track?

At this stage of my journey, I came upon a fork in the road. I could either turn left or right, or I could continue on. Turning back was also an option. Time to contemplate. Should you change direction in life?

There was a sign lying face down in the road, at this crossing. There is a story that's been handed down in the family through the generations. It's about my great grandfather who came upon a huge rock on his way somewhere. This was back in the day before there were motorcars, when life still happened at a much slower pace. On the rock, someone had written "Kyk van onder, wat 'n wonder" (Look at the bottom to be awed). The story goes that my great grandfather put a lot of effort in and finally managed to turn the rock over. On the other side was written "Ag wat wy, nou lĂȘ ek weer op my ander sy" (What a relief to be lying on my other side again). The old man had a long hard chuckle and then, putting all effort into it once again, he carefully turned the rock over once more for the next unsuspecting but curious traveler to find. Lesson to be learned: If you are curious about something, make a point of finding out, even if it does require tremendous effort.

I lifted the sign up and found that it had no new information to offer. I had a good chuckle at my own curiosity and carefully laid the sign back down making sure it faced downwards. Lesson to be learned: Learn to laugh at yourself. And never ruin someone else's opportunity to do the same either. Better to laugh with people, that at them.

Then I came across this heart in the middle of nowhere. This is how life is. We can find love in the most unexpected places. It may not be packaged nicely. It may even be a little rough around the edges. But know love for what it is. In Botswana it had a black face and came in the form of a cleaning lady. In both Hondeklip and Koiingnaas, the faces were brown, but the occupations were much the same. But Botswana also afforded me love in the form of a white woman who had suffered tremendous abuse growing up. Hondeklip had its own set of white women as well. We did not always see eye to eye on religious matters. We did not always have the same educational backgrounds. Sometimes we had vastly divergent interests. Take time to recognize love, appreciate it, and pass it on. But never pass it by.

Then, all of a sudden this discarded building site came into my view and I veered off the road to inspect it more closely. It was a large slab of cement with concrete pillars rising from the sides. Someone had great ideals for this spot at some stage. Our lives have such start-ups as well. Things we dreamed about, invested in, and then discarded. Take another look at those. If you still think they should be left alone, then walk away. But if you find that the dream has merit, push hard to let it rise from the dust!

My eye caught my shadow on the concrete floor and I took a selfie. Take time to notice your shadow. You can only cast a shadow when you walk in the light. Acknowledge the light in your life.

Next, I came upon a set of steps that had no apparent purpose whatsoever. It started nowhere and went nowhere. I thought about this, at first thinking it had to be negative. Then I figured that anything that elevates you in life, has to be good, regardless of whether it serves a purpose or not. Often when I paint or write, I would be asked what is the point of the exercise, it I don't intend to sell the finished product. Not everything has a monetary value. If you simply need to write, or paint, or sing, or read, or whatever, to elevate your spirits, then do so. If you acquire a new skill, and never make any money with it, but it elevates your skill levels, then acquire that skill. Not everything has to make sense to others. The steps must have made sense to whoever built them here. So be it.

My attention was attracted by this door lying in the veld. I don't often encounter doors in the veld. When you find an oddity in life, take a closer look. This is a general rule I live by.

I had another good chuckle when I noticed the writing on the door. 405. I am 45 years old. That is 40 and 5. This being a symbolic journey, the 405 number works brilliantly. It would be less effective if it had been a mathematical and rational journey. Are you with me? See how I give myself leeway to find symbols that apply to my life? This door probably housed a fire extinguisher before it found its way into the veld. The words fire/brand could still be discerned even though it had become faded. At 45, we can either fade away, or we can choose to tackle life with the same burning zeal and passion we had 20 years earlier. I reminded myself of my mantra, the one I shared above in the opening paragraph. I opt to live life zealously.

I was approaching town again and came upon this pit for fixing cars. A mechanic would get inside the pit where he would be able to work on the undercarriage of a car. Taking stock. Does my life need fixing? Should I get an expert in to take a look?

Remember those tires that came off? I now came upon some more tires, but this time they had been re-purposed. Lesson learned.

I also came upon an in tact fire extinguisher door. Sometimes it's not about discarding, or re-purposing, but simply about fixing or re-attaching. I can write a complete relationship book from this one sentence. Lessons learned.

I came upon some re-purposed cable drum. Once it found its new purpose, it became a haven for people to rest at. Aha! Lesson learned.

Then I noticed a clogged up drain. If you find that too much rubbish is building up in your life, perhaps it is time to clean the outlets.

Then I came upon a pile of road. This is literally pieces of tar road that was lifted and dumped in the process of reconstructing the road. Lesson: Just because you come upon a tar road, it doesn't mean you have to travel it. Some roads are best passes by.

Next I found a discarded sign with a warning in various languages warning that the water is not for consumption. Is this true of me? Has my water become toxic? When we are connected to Jesus, the source of life-giving water, we can be a source of life-giving water to others. But when our outlets or plugged up by too much rubble, the water becomes stagnant, and is no longer good for human consumption. Time to clean the drains?

From the corner of my eye, I saw this source of shade. By now it was midday and the sun was beating down very hot. I walked over.

Not even my foot would find shade under this shrub. It is a matter of perspective. How do you see yourself? Perhaps you are able to live a much larger life than you give yourself credit for. I remember years ago I led a Bible Study group and we were discussing problems when I made the following comment. When you are lying with your face in the dirt, every mole hill will look like a mountain. You need to pick yourself up from the dirt, if you wish to regain perspective. Whether it is mountains or false resting places standing in your way, perhaps it is time to get up and regain perspective in your own life.

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy my books here:You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
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