It’s not that hard to go without a car. Many millions do. However, as white middle class suburbanites it is sometimes inconceivable to imagine being able to cope without easy access to one’s own four wheels. And yet it is not that difficult.
We didn’t have a car this past week. One destroyed gear box and one incapacitated starter motor rendered both vehicles useless. Both cars had experts scratching their heads in confusion, mystified as to the cause. Mercury in retrograde again? To fix, however, is going to need a trip to the bank.
We managed swimmingly thanks to online purchases, a visiting son and Uber. The real challenge was getting around in our suburb. We do almost everything in our suburb. It’s pretty easy to walk to pilates, which is around the corner, but not that comfortable to walk to the theatre at night in the rain. Too far to walk, a little too close to use an Uber.
“This is when we need those Tuktuks,” remarked Chantal, thinking how nice it would be not to have to worry about caring for a car.
There are many beautiful places to walk near us
A full plated offering
A brother with access to a fleet of vehicles came to the rescue and lent us a little Picanto. This white bubble on wheels took us to Theatre Linden on Friday night to experience South African actor and musician Neil Sandilands together with Schalk Joubert & Mauritz Lotz performing a musical repertoire.
The stories he sang in guttural Afrikaans about Frikkie and Dot in the Platteland (countryside) settled full and heavy like a comforting meal in our stomachs. If you understand the language, as we do, it tugs and embraces. Sometimes robust like a punch in the gut, sometimes flirting a caress across your cheek. Always very present. Never sheepish. It anchors and grounds as it lifts and soars, like nothing the English language can do.
Musical maestro’s Mauritz Lotz, Neil Sandilands & Schalk Joubert (L to R)
Have an impact
The experience made an impression on us. It had an impact. As we all do. Although we often forget it. This was what we were reminding the Grade 8’s and 9’s on Saturday.
“Our impact can be positive or not.” said Chantal looking pointedly at a boy at the back whispering to his sidekick. “We have a choice as to what we would like it to be. Is fiddling with your phone, whispering and giggling, avoiding engagement and slouching in your chair the impact you wish to have?”
“Do you choose to be present?” asked Matthew to the auditorium full of wide-eyed 15 year olds. “If you choose to be present, be fully present. If you choose not to be then be fully not present by leaving. It’s okay.”
No-one left. They could have and we would have honoured their choice. In reality they were more afraid of the ramifications from the programme itself. They did not want to add to the stress they had gone through to get onto the programme. They did not want to jeopardise their one chance.
This is what “group therapy” for youth and young adults looks like
Stress is pervasive
Stress is so pervasive at the moment. Managing it was the topic that we spoke about on Wednesday evening to a small audience in Linden. Tristan took us in his car as he was staying overnight. Thank goodness for sons with cars.
It was a time of high anxiety in our street with a double whammy of unexpected extended power issues as well as water supply problems. The street Whatsapp group was afroth with angst at the lack of certainty around if, when and how well the problems would be attended to. Stress levels bubbled and boiled over. No-one from our street attended the talk.
It appeared that the tunnel visioned fixation on the problem blotted out any solutions offered that didn’t match the ones desired. We want what we want and when we don’t or cannot get it…
It’s almost honey harvest time again!
Cycle of pain
First there is denial, “I can’t believe this is happening (again) or that we don’t have running water or surely this is load shedding it surely will be back soon?” Then bargaining. With the council, the counsellor, the (invisible) maintenance men, the universe and God.
Followed very quickly with anger “I have had enough!” Doors slam, plates are thrown. “I am so out of this city/province/country.”
Not long after screaming at that AI voice and then at the call centre agent and narrowly missing a child's head with the phone, depression kicks in. The screen goes black and the house starts to darken.
Finally after two hours, eight hours, a day, two days, however long it takes, acceptance is reached.
“Ah I have a swimming pool for water, several empty 5l bottles to fill to flush the loo, more full 5l bottles of clean drinking water. I have got used to the mounting pile of laundry, and enjoyed the early nights by candlelight.”
And then the lights come back on and the water flows. All is forgiven and forgotten. Until the next time. This is what happens when we are under stress. We cannot think or act rationally and we cannot make sound decisions, all of which affects behaviour and being.
Stress affects our thinking, digestion and immune system, preventing optimal performance
What is your choice?
That rollercoaster of emotions whipped up by a frenzy of being out of control is so not good for anyone’s health. Truly. But we don’t seem to learn. Or maybe we don’t want to.
The thing is we have an impact. We have a choice. We can choose to find acceptance sooner, make a plan, help each other out. Or we can froth and mutter, spit and moan. And throw things. As much as it can be incredibly satisfying it’s upsetting to pick up the pieces.
What impact do you want to have?
Until next time,
Yours in feeling,
Chantal & Matthew
About the author
5th Place offers specialised psychological services in the form of coaching and therapy for immediate relief from stress, anxiety, & other mental health challenges. It works fast, deep and quick. For individuals and groups, children, teens and adults.