It is my hope that putting this voice out into our world has value, not only for me, but for others, as well. I admit to sometimes entertaining dreams of it going viral, of infecting the world with my vision. But most of the time I am content to be motivated by Gandhi's assertion: whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Workers Day

I walked home along the Jonkershoek Road after we spent the evening together. There were no cars on the road. It was beautiful and cold and crisp. My down jacket was puffed around me and my beanie pulled low, so the cold against my face and nose, was pleasing rather than a discomfort. I walked slowly and looked at the stars and thought. I was happy to be walking rather than driving. Like so much about my life, it felt like a privilege, the silence, the darkness, the space, the stars wide overhead. I mulled over what I had said about myself. I thought about what it meant. When we talked together, I struggled to think of anything, really, to say about my life. Yes, it is good. But you know that.

Sandra had left the solar jar out for me to light my way onto our stoep, rather than the electric light which would shine in her eyes through the curtain-less windows of our bedroom. Once I reached home, stepped into the warmth of our house, looked at Sandra and the children, asleep in their beds, the meaning of what I had been saying seemed to distil. And out of that came a question: Could I be leading a better life? Could I be striving for something greater, not in a grand sense, but perhaps in little ways?

Robert Browning said that "a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" So much of what I have sought now seems to be within my grasp, that I wonder where I should be reaching. And yet I am wary to become trapped in something that is too small for me.

I am not sure what the answer is to my question. It could be yes and it could be no. It could be both yes and no.

Then I remembered something I could have told you about my life: On the Worker's Day public holiday we went to Stofbergsfontein. We went on Tuesday night, stayed Wednesday and then Thursday as well. The kids missed a day of school. We only returned home on Thursday night. It was too beautiful to leave. As it always is.

The water of the lagoon is pure blue and its sand is pure white. There is a spit made of this sand that emerges on the falling tide, with the very deepest blue of the channel flowing past it. The geometry of the juxtaposition of these two colours, the acute white angle piercing the curved blue flow is far more beautiful than I can describe. One can walk out onto this spit, away from the land, out across this transitional surface that is swept clean twice a day, leaving a long line of footprints, and dive directly into the deep flow of the channel. It is the best place to swim.

On Workers Day my sister and I, neither of us really workers, walk out onto the spit together. We seldom do things together, just the two of us, but we both love the aesthetics of the spit, and the invitation of it draws me out from my book. The water is cold enough to mark a transition, but warm enough to be pleasant. Immersion is magnificent. What is most noticeable to me though, in the saltiness, is my buoyancy. I seem to float high on the flat surface, without effort.

I remember as a child the difficulty I had to float on my back. Afraid to let my head float as far back as it should, I would hunch up to protect myself, and so sink. I remember being told to trust, to extend myself backwards, but it was too far beyond what felt safe, and I couldn't do it.

Perhaps when you are older, you float more easily. But I don't ever remember floating this easily. I roll over onto my back, spread my arms out wide, neither grasping nor reaching, and float. My ears are submerged in the liquidity of underwater sounds: blue noise. I can feel the sun's autumn warmth through the pale, red skin of my eyelids. Without moving a single muscle, I flow gently outwards on the tide.
 All photos by Catherine Hofmeyr

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