Saturday, December 26, 2009

Writing a Ticket to Freedom

So one day I decided to become a writer. I haven’t started yet, but it sounds like a good plan – I can make my own hours, work wherever I like, and spend time with the people I love. Over and above the positives, the decision was also spurred out of exasperation – the realization that I’ve been working in a not-so-glamorous desk job, where the effort-to-fulfillment ratio is no longer working in my favour.

So what made me think I could do this? You see, I have a history of this kind of behaviour, of making a decision and then diving in wholeheartedly. If I had a motto it would have to be “do it or bust”. About to graduate high school, I decided to go to a private university. When my parents couldn’t afford the tuition, I landed a scholarship and studied abroad in South Africa for six months. After university, I decided to move to California – it sounded nice and sunny. I had no job, no contacts, and just enough money. I took a road trip and when I got there I decided to stay. I needed a job so I decided to work in Advertising – I had been thinking about it since attending a presentation about it at a Career Fair. It sounded interesting so I got out the Yellowpages and called every listing until I landed my first job. After seven years I decided to move back to South Africa, I missed its natural beauty and the raw feeling of being on the edge of the world. It was calling my name.

So after living in South Africa for four years I’ve found myself looking at my path here and feeling a little disappointed at my achievements. Before the move to SA I was full of romanticism about my new beginning. I would travel, see new things, meet new people, focus on life – not work. I guess all the freedom was just a little overwhelming because at some point I crossed the line back into familiar territory – work, work, work. The trouble with being a good worker though, is that it doesn’t just take eight hours a day – it takes almost all of them. You can’t be a good worker unless you’re passionate, and you can’t be passionate if you’re waiting for 16:59 on the clock to start packing up to go start your day. The worst of all, you can’t think about beautiful things when your mind has been cluttered with appointments, politics and the boardroom shenanigans of the Corporate Empire.

So I’ve decided that by becoming a writer I can focus on being the person I want to be, and have time to think, to dream of lovely life. Time to actually have the experiences I dream about – traveling into the unknown to the Transkei, up the West Coast, to the Karoo, the Overberg, Mozambique, Namibia and beyond – and most of all, the small nondescript towns in between that no one ever talks about but which leave you with a true feeling of a place, its gritty history and the people who have built it through generations of time.

I’ll explore all these places through meeting the locals, eating new foods and through rough-and-tumble camping. I’ll focus on other activities at home, too – I’ll finally learn to surf and overcome my hesitation to dive in the freezing Atlantic – I’ll catch my first crayfish. I’ll kayak the ocean and small, mellow lagoons. I’ll climb mountains and learn how to take beautiful photography. I’ll teach myself the art of cooking and pastry making. I’ll become a better mountain biker – no more falling on the downs because I’ve squeezed my brakes in a panic! I will no longer be afraid of baboons in close proximity. I’ll sample fine local wines, braai with friends and listen to the ocean through open air on the night breeze.

Being a writer sounds just great. I just have one question I’ll need to answer before I can begin. – I wonder, “What I should write about?”

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