17 May 2016

Is 'Play-play' a Frightening Reality?

Tom Eaton is a South African screenwriter, satirist and best selling author amongst a heap of other accolades. Among the towering mound,he is also a writer for a local paper. Eaton writes for The Times, a daily national paper. The following is an extract from today's feature:
"But now, as he looked at the toy soldiers strewn across the floor, his face was pale and unsmiling. Even though I was not yet 10, I realised that something had hurt him as he knocked and looked down. It had slipped through his defences because he had never expected to encounter it here, in the room of a child. He leaned against the doorframe, and seemed enormously tired.
"This is a game?" he asked. It didn't sound like a question. It sounded like an accusation. Then the real question came.
"But why would you play this?"
Later, seeing my embarrassment, my parents explained.
Our guest was German and when he was in his late teens he had been drafted into Hitler's navy and sent aboard the battleship Tirpitz. The ship was relentlessly hunted and spent the war limping from one Norwegian fjord to another, where steep mountains and shallow water offered some protection from the British bombers and submarines that pursued it. Forty years later, that fear still clung to our guest: many of the Cape's coastal roads, where mountains plunge into the sea, made him anxious.
Our guest survived the attack and the war. Millions didn't. All of his brothers were drafted and killed. Hitler sent his mother a medal for surrendering so many of her babies to the meat grinder.
"But why would you play this?" At the time, I thought I heard disbelief in his voice and that was why I was embarrassed. I thought he was saying: "You stupid child, how could you take any pleasure from war?"
Now, though, I think I understand his tone better. It wasn't disbelief. It was despair.
And yet here I was: a child, playing at mass murder. Somewhere in those first eight or nine years I had learned that war was fun. And I think that's why the kind, anxious German felt overcome with despair. We had learned nothing."
Here, Eaton was a child and found himself, due to societal cues, diminishing a gruesome event into an enjoyable game. We still do this today. In South Africa, with particular reference to 2008, our nation was plagued by xenophobic attacks which resulted in several deaths...yet strikingly similar events occurred, with the same results last year, and continues took plague our nation daily. Many aspects of any country can be seen as negative, but it becomes our choice in how we respond to an event. And really, we have two choices: remain on the floor with our toy soldiers or, tightly buckle our $1000 leather belts and pull up our 'Ugg' boots and face the issues head on.
Maybe we're indoctrinated to think that serious global issue, like wars, are just games and are so far removed from our every day, safe-haven bubbles that they don't beckon a second of our thoughts to its effects.  We can't act innocent...or oblivious forever. The world can be fun, but it isn't a game; maybe it's time we ought to stop playing. Do these attacks on people,cultures,religions, ideologies and belief systems of humanity  devalue and become 'play-play' in our minds?
Eaton's perspective of this event is altered by thirty-or-so years' experience. It is interesting to note the expression of "despair" on his guest's face, now made visible due to experience, where in it's place once lurked "disbelief". 
The article makes for a very interesting read and a poignant comparison between South Africa then, now and its future.
Generations pass and wars continue. We've learnt nothing.
For the full article visit: http://www.rdm.co.za/lifestyle/2016/05/17/revolutionaries-won-t-do-any-actual-fighting.-they-ll-leave-that-to-you

Till next time-


10 May 2016

How to Survive Waking Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed

Yesterday morning I woke up half an hour later than I should have. It wasn't because I failed to set my trusty alarm clock, or because I slept through my alarm clock either- I made a conscientious choice to press 'snooze', roll over and cover myself in my soft horizontally-striped felt blanket and continue doing just that...snoozing until I had squeezed out, with both white-knuckled hands, every possible split second I could spare before being late for my first lesson at school.

I tumbled out of the left side of my bed, as per usual. My body was attacked by a cold I had never felt before. My slipper-less toes curled upwards trying to avoid the temperature of the polar wooden floor which decked my bedroom. My eyes unlocked from the comfort of my lower eyelid just enough to reveal ambiguous forms. And, to make matters worse, my brain soon woke up only to remember that it was only Monday.

With a bad mentality and a yearning for the safety of my thermal covers I started my day. After all the necessary were done- and I mean necessary- I left the house for school. I went through every lesson as a body which could easily have been mistaken for that of a zombie- both in sight...and I'm sure in smell. I shuffled from class to class; Mathematics first, then Zulu, then Science with the exception of English where I knew we would continue reading from the novel Tess of D'urbervilles which is on the track to possibly becoming my new favourite book (Sorry, Carlos Ruiz Zafon!). Once the bell sounded and I was introduction to Tess and the 'May-Day Dance' I returned to 'Zombie mode'.

My eyes battled to stay open as time 'supposedly' inched its way forward. By second break I was a walking, blabbering mess! 

My gentle giant of a friend, Katlego,whose name means successful in  Tswana, is a lanky boy in my class always boasting a wide, white smile contrasting his light brown exterior. On the 5 minute walk from Life Orientation to English for the second time that day- which constituted trekking from one side of the school to another- Katlego stretched out both his arms revealing an impressive arm span. I stretched my arms out in a similar pose to see how far I could stretch, whilst still walking the journey to my next subject.

I was noticeably much shorter in stature and consequently in 'wingspan' too. This was when I got the bright idea and mustered up all the voice I could and told my towering friend to run.

"What?" replied Katlego
"Just run" I responded

and with that, one giant and one gnome-sized Steph , in comparison, ran with arms stretched out wide as if we were aeroplanes, altering the angle of our arms as needed to avoid the red brick-faced meandering passages of our school. We flew up the stairs, squeezed through narrow passages and sprinted...I mean flew as fast as we could, navigating through the winding maze-like passages of our high school as pilots in the skies.

The endorphin released into my body from simultaneously running and laughing so hard that lachrymal fluid  spilled out from my eyes miraculously caused me to become bright eyed and bushy tailed once again.

I rolled over and woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, but thanks to a good friend, a great laugh and a bit of playful innocence I was successfully brought back to life.

Maybe that's the secret; Next time you find the grogginess encapsulating your body, grab a friend, stretch out your arms and become human aeroplanes!

It's okay to 'wake up on the wrong side of the bed' once in a while... I'm just going to make sure that from now on I leap from the right side.

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