Another 18 holes
Over these last few months some days have felt like I’m an extra in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day (anyone under thirty google it). Wake up, do the day, sleep, repeat… And it’s not because the content of my days is the same, it’s more that the narrative of the world has felt stuck in this particular season.
This week America refreshed the story a little with the inauguration of President Biden on 20 January, and back here in South Africa, the passing of Jackson Mthembu, on 21 January, caused quite a shockwave. As I listened to the news reader’s composure crack while sharing this breaking news with the nation, I too was moved. And as I sat listening to the presenter and callers digest this major loss to the country, I stepped away from that deadline for a few minutes, to mourn with them.
Still, I was torn… Deadline? Or participate in paying some form of respect to a man I did not know. Work? Or join a collective state of mourning? Even if just for a while. And then I thought, what a ridiculous conundrum we find ourselves in, where we (I guess this is the royal we, as I truly can only speak for myself) are weighing up the urgency of our productivity, against spending some time reflecting on the life of a man, who breathed some fresh air into the politics of our nation. What a curious decision to get stuck on. And then I thought, how are his close friends and colleagues going to mourn, in the middle of this crazy time, where really, all we expect them to do is focus their energies on us, and to not miss a beat.
That afternoon, while walking around the periphery of the golf course with a friend, I shared some of my thoughts with her. She had also been thrown off her working game by the news that day, so could relate. Usually when we walk here, we have to look out for golfers, but fortunately this week the course has been undergoing maintenance, so the players were few and far between, and we could focus on our download.
It felt good to get things out of my system and restart a little lighter than before.
The game of golf, apart from other associated benefits, seems a great way to do this. I don’t play. Yet (!?). But my dad’s been a member here for over 45 years (I stand to be corrected, but nonetheless, it’s been a very respectable length of time). About two weeks ago I joined him and his fourball for about seven holes (only walking alongside them, heaven forbid I cramp their style with my yet-to-be-honed golfing skills). I so enjoyed swinging into refresh. And it was great seeing the easy camaraderie between the players.
I’m lucky to live alongside the golf course now. Easy access to nature within a secure environment. I feel safe in my home. And on a daily basis, I get to observe some of the world go by – on foot, or in golf carts – as they navigate these 18 holes. They come in all shapes and sizes, colourfully or conservatively attired, and at all levels of ability. They all have their own personal stories to tell, and crosses to bear. But they’ll return again, tomorrow, or in a week’s time. Their goals may be different. Some may be here to socialise. Some just want to get around the course without losing too many balls. Others want to improve their score, and their handicaps. Some will cheat. Some will research and analyse their game and the course. Some will have good games, and some bad. But they’ll be back to play another 18 holes.
And though we can’t really use Groundhog Day to predict the spring in Africa, let me know if you see your shadow, or not, on 2 February. Perhaps there’s something to celebrate. Perhaps we’ll get unstuck, and there’s a change in season ahead. And I have an extraordinary bottle of bubbly, ready to go!
Till soon, Chrissi xxx9