About a year ago, I processed some feelings about the locals. I committed them to paper, revised them a couple of times and eventually they morphed into a wee piece of writing that might someday become a poem. I wrote loads more. And then I set out to find a guide to help me get better at this writing thing. So far so good. All boxes ticked. Then early this morning a gatekeeper decided that my portfolio of poems is not what he was looking for and so I’ll have to go find someone else, somewhere else to help me grow as a writer. I should have guessed, given the history of the institution and that this human had scaled the highest towers of that part of society; that such an outcome was likely.
But given that I’m an undercover optimist, I had hoped that maybe, just maybe there was a chance that the gatekeeper might be up to taking on board a challenging assignment. Likely he’s a few years away from a hard-won retirement in academia and not keen to be embroiled in such hard reflective work at this late stage of his career. So as it stands, and as Biko said; here I stand responding to their provocations instead of just living. So if you’re alive today and reading this, let me remind you (and myself) that we should live anyway — regardless of the smallness and madness that prevails in the minds and hearts of some of our fellow humans.
On the bright side, which is really anywhere that’s not the northern hemisphere right now, there’s sunshine, beats, vibes and that very special pulsating energy rippling through the holy land. With the little ones safely tucked back into their uniforms, teachers raring to go, and morning traffic aficionados jostling each other with gusto on the school run; there’s a very real sense of renewed hope in the village. Amidst all this good news is the other news that the 4th Covid wave is on it’s way out in the holy land and it’s barely a moment too soon. Still, we know the whole panny thing is far from over and there’s still likely another wave or more in our future but we’re in declining numbers and that is just a huge relief on so many levels.
In the process of marking time, completing the daily life process and getting on with it as our former colonisers would say, I’ve been reading about morning rituals. Now this is nothing as dramatic as some people would think it is. A morning ritual is merely what you do when you wake up from the little death as the dervish calls it. So waking up itself, opening your eyes and grumbling while lying in bed is itself a ritual. So is hitting the snooze button repeatedly until you eventually tire of it and get out of bed and grumble your way to morning ablutions. In doing some most anecdotal research (Lord knows at least one pale male thinks I’m certainly not good enough for real research) I found that for a chunk of the local population, the ablutions is in fact the major part of their morning ritual. They do things like reading on the throne and all sorts of other activities that really don’t bear repeating — but which they do repeat daily anyway. I am gently but firmly reminded by the dervish that it takes all kinds mos. I’m not so sure but given that we’re stuck with these kinds anyway — let’s move along and go for a walk while they hit snooze and get up to whatever it is they do in the throne room. The dervish kindly pointed out to me that over and above my prejudice towards people with gut issues — there’s a direct benefit to so many locals with undiagnosed alimentary canal issues — that I get to enjoy the morning spaces with fewer nosy types in my face. Now that’s a bonus — as is the dervish herself who almost always finds a way to remind me how much I like my own company. Usually as she is leaving or dismissing me. I wonder sometimes, is she trying to tell me something?
But back to the morning rituals of people with normal or just regular functioning systems (pun fully intended). This being the first Thursday that real life is back to normal, there’s a proper crowd thronging the walkways this morning. Full of good intentions, new running shoes and mostly out of breath but still gamely pushing on to complete their personal distance targets. And damn well done to the bunch of them. There’s little else as uplifting as watching patently unfit folks struggle with their baggage as they strive towards making of themselves or at least their bodies something other than what it might be right now. And I count myself amongst this want-to-be-fitter crowd too.
What I see is hope, perseverance and determination manifest amidst the hideous neon outfit clad walkers, runners and others. (I mean what is it with the people that design this stuff?). In a world obsessed with perfection, it takes so much courage to see yourself as you are, and then admit you want to make yourself better in some way. So despite the dubious morning workout gear, just the act of being out there and doing your thing is a massive win already. I know it’s likely the numbers of morning fitness types will drop before the month is out and soon enough it will be just the regulars again but I really hope that in 2022 I get to see (and ignore) a whole lot more nosy types on the morning walk. That would be the best kind of gift for this new year. But if that does not pan out, my wish for you is that this new calendar year, pulls you closer to your self. All of yourself, with the imperfections and doubts and anxiety and fears and dubious taste in clothing too. I’m rooting for you. Go live, beautifully.
Morning Rituals was inspired by the grace of a beautifully perfect morning in a little village on the periphery of Durban.
© Jesh Baker, 2022