Steve Hall's Essays
Billy Joel, a musical genius spanning three decades so far, sang lately of a river of dreams - a place visited to find solace, peace or the meaning of life, to revitalise, recuperate and relax - to find something worth looking for.
Twelve years ago I had the extraordinary opportunity of working with a company based in Beijing called 'I Will Not Complain'. Employees, expeditioners, clients, colleagues and fellow adventurers were encouraged to sign not only an indemnity form, but also one which said : “I Will Not Complain”. Throughout my life since then I have often reflected on this philosophy, and I have wondered at how much more we might achieve if we took the energy out of complaining and planted it into action. No more so has this come alive for me than in the 2008 Olympic Games:
The golfing advice was in sympathy with my ankle which had hobbled its way around Royal and Riverclub the past 2 days, and was about to embark on an epic trek by any hiker's proportions.
My folks and I spent many times like this together and really squeeze maximum enjoyment out of such outings. We try and outdo each other as to who looks the stupidest in a hat, or who can come up with the best ideas or descriptions about the things we have witnessed or observed. These are often vented above the level of normal, acceptable public volume, and together with some really shocking hats, we have received some odd looks in our times together. Of course this just serves to spur us on - and I think even Mom, who embarrasses easily in public, loves these family occasions. She somehow manages to keep us in place as Dad and I compete to see who knows the most people. In doing this she disobeys a fundamental law of physics, as a petite 50kg outweighs a combined bulk of 200kg. A truly remarkable woman.
Yesterday I saw a dead man. He was face down in a path of cropped grass cleared only minutes earlier by his scything and spinning BMW M3. The dust was still settling over his limp body and over the trail of destruction which resembled an aircraft landing gone horribly wrong. The shirt had been ripped from his body, his arms were neatly by his sides and his legs crossed at the ankles. Apart from a thick ooze of blood from his ear, he looked strangely peaceful, Miraculously two women had been pulled from the wreckage and had been seated nearby on a blanket. They were tending to their bumps and scratches and were dealing with their shock. For one of them, grief waited not in a dark alley around the corner, but face down, 20 metres away in the veld.
November in Johannesburg is a glorious month. The weather is hot and there are the dramatic thunder showers which clear the air for some spectacular sunsets. It is also silly season which makes it glorious on the social front as well. It's a time when people start to want to do all the things they've promised throughout the year but haven't gotten round to them, like early morning golf.
Wholesome. That is the meaning of salubrious, and this was a wholesome experience, conducive and favourable to our health. We would discover during our stay in Africa's largest game reserve many things - not least of which would be a closer understanding of relationships. Relationships with ourselves, with each other, and with the earth - of which the Selous* is still a beautiful piece.
It was as if all Cape Town's colourful characters met together at the bottom of Kloof Nek for an unbeatable show of real, human entertainment.
It was an ominous question - a warning of something to come, perhaps quite literally - to come up.
We had stopped for a sundowner drink, which by this time had nothing to do with the sun - it had long since sunk. We were late for that which waits for no one - the sunset, and we had never had such fun or excitement being late.
The wedding ceremony was almost complete. As the emotional yet beaming bride emerged from the registry with her new life long partner, the choir burst into a traditional Zulu wedding march and blessing. There were broad smiles, teary eyes, more than a few tapping feet, and even a little jig from the happy couple, the mother of the bride, and the father of the groom - such was the irresistible powerful charm of the Union Bible Institute Choir.
There were just two of us in the car on the way back from a University vacation in St Francis Bay. It had been another superb holiday of late night drinking and early morning, bleary eyed skiing on the Kromme River. John and I were reflecting silently together about the carefree, fun-filled past ten days and thinking about what lay ahead of us in the dreaded and ever-darkening second semester.
Steve tells us how he managed to bring some light hearted spontaneity to the passing traffic cocooned in their locked, alarmed and satellite tracked vehicles.
Steve tells us about the fun, friendships and memories Rag day at UCT created for him.