Words of wisdom or inane dribble…you decide

As I contemplate fatherhood, I suddenly find myself looking at everything happening around me, things we’ve done, things others have done and wondering if there’s a lesson to be learned there. Is this something I should stop and think about? Should I make a note of it so I don’t forget to teach it to you guys when you’re old enough to understand? Is there a lesson there for me to learn, so I do as good a job of bringing you up as I possibly can? It’s like I’ve got a new hobby – preparing myself for you guys.

Here are a few examples.

Your mother decided a few weeks ago that we needed to get away for the long weekend – just the two of us. She did her research (because your mother doesn’t do anything unless she’s read up all about it on a few websites – I have no idea how she functioned before the Internet?! – if she had her way, one of you would probably be named Google) and decided to book us in for camping at the Tankwa-Karoo National Park. I’m all up for a camping trip, specially in a national park – got to use our Wild Card as much as possible! (and you know what your mother’s like – once she’s decided…THAT’S IT!) It’s only 4 hours drive from Cape Town, but I was a bit worried that there’s nothing to do or see there – there’s no wildlife to speak of (and photographing wildlife is my second passion – the first being your mom, obviously), nothing to do there – no 4×4 trails (although going alone would mean it wouldn’t be wise tackling any 4×4 trail graded over a 3 – I have a sense of adventure, but am not a total idiot), nothing . But she’d booked, so we went. It was awesome! We weren’t in some neat and organised campsite, we were halfway up the side of a mountain, not even a cleared bit of ground for the tent, no-one for miles and miles, not a building in sight (other than some ruined shepherd huts and kraals), no running water, no toilets – just us and the wilderness and our little tent pitched on the side of the mountain.

We watched the most amazing sunsets – sunsets so red they looked like a 5 year old’s painting, had the best views over the plains, had big fires at night and watched the incredible display of stars (which are amazing out there – there’s no wonder that Sutherland, just down the road, is the star-gazing capital of Africa). We woke up in the freezing cold, cuddled in bed looking out through the tent door flap over the wonderful landscape, boiled the kettle on the gas stove to make hot water for basin washing, stood outside in nothing other than our boots while we cleaned ourselves and then sat in the sun naked to dry off, soaking in the morning rays. We didn’t do anything special – we drove around the park during the day, sat round the campfire at night, talking and laughing, and sometimes, just breathing. It was Nivea for the soul! As we drove home, I wondered about this…we did nothing, we saw (virtually) nothing, yet it was superb. We had time to really talk, to listen, to think, to contemplate…..Sometimes Less really is More.

One of the days, while we were driving round the park, your mom looked at the GPS and commented that it had a warning about the stretch of road we were on…a warning saying we should avoid it if wet. Well, they hadn’t had rain for two weeks (we’d checked) so we thought we’d carry on regardless. A minute or so later, while we were travelling along the dirt road at about 60km/h, I noticed there was some standing water and the ruts were getting deeper. Nevertheless, I carried on, keeping my momentum up (cos you need momentum in sand or mud) when all of a sudden, we hit deep mud. I fought the vehicle as it kept trying to drop into the existing tracks, but we eventually slid into the ruts, just at the point where someone else (who’d probably been stuck there before) had stuck some branches in the one of the ruts. We hit these branches, bounced into the air, came down sideways and skidded along the muddy track for a few meters completely sideways. We came to an abrupt halt (helped by some of the bushes on the side of the track), and were completely swamped by a tsunami of mud that we’d just kicked up. It came squelching through my side window, hitting me in the side of the head, over the steering wheel, over the dashboard, over the inside of the windscreen, across the space, onto your mom, and onto the inside of her side window – it went everywhere!!!

There are two lessons to be learnt here. The first one is that Attitude is Everything.

I took a deep breath once we’d come to a halt and looked over at your mom. She was wide-eyed and covered in mud. She looked at me, took a deep breath and then burst out into one of the biggest fits of giggles I’ve ever seen. Soon I was roaring with laughter with her – it was fantastic. You see, some people would have gone apeshit being completely covered with mud, with their vehicle being covered inside and out, with this fine gloopy muck in their clothes, their hair, their ears, everywhere…but not us…no, we laughed and we laughed until we were sore, and once we’d gotten out of the mud, we continued laughing. We even went back via that route later the same day to see if we could have some more laughs (but alas the harsh Karoo sun had dried it out). This could have been the point where your mom kakked me out from a dizzy height for ignoring the warning, for driving to fast, for hitting the branches, for not having my side window closed…but she chose to laugh about it. Her attitude turned it into the highlight of our trip!

The second lesson to be learnt about this event (in my opinion – and that’s the only one that counts here!) is this. People can give you warnings or advice, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow them. In the end it’s your decision, you just have to live with the consequences. It’s up to you to follow your instincts, follow your heart, do what you want to do (as long as it doesn’t hurt others), and live your lives the way you want to. It’s your life, its your journey, take the road you want to take…just make sure that whichever road you take, you make the most of it, have fun with your life and enjoy it. And when the road is tough, and you find yourself slipping sideways and struggling for control, when it feels like the shit is coming at you from all angles, the most important thing is to know that it will come to an end and when it does, make sure you have someone you love sitting right next to you, who can look at you and giggle.


~ by HopelesslyTTC on 27/08/2009.

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