Recap to Blog 14: Travelling lightly: Vee’s belief that no situation has inherent meaning, and that giving meaning is something only our minds can do, takes Zani by surprise. Could it be that the negative light in which she has regarded herself for so many years is of her own making – and that she deserves to be kinder to herself?
Him: Ready to talk. Why don’t you come along when we cycle at the Cradle this weekend? We can stay over, make a fire and talk?
Me: Great. What shall I pack?
Him: Surprise me. It’s a log cabin with a two-plate stove, a fridge, plates and stuff and an outside braai. I’ll book. Why don’t you sleep in Saturday and meet me there at 2? Will catch a lift with one of the guys.
Yeah, list time! But not before I’ve done some research – I need details. Google ‘Cradle’. It’s the perfect setting – isolated cabins with the just the basics amongst huge old trees, and a winding river. I draw up a shopping list, a list of what to pack, a list of emergency items (just in case), a list of books and games and music, a list of baby books, articles and file, a list of when to do what and then, just to be sure, a final check list.
I start packing – I want to be ready for a perfect weekend.
But I’m not just packing for the weekend; I am also very busy packing, unpacking and repacking my emotional rucksack. Vee’s words have been echoing in my head: Would you just consider the possibility that everything you’ve always believed about yourself is not true? The possibility that I’m not useless, broken or empty is wonderfully enticing, but doubt seems to surface regularly: don’t fool yourself, sister, entering a state of denial is not going to change the facts.
What should I do?
That’s what I should do.
I feel rather silly phoning Vee.
I mean, how do you ask a virtual stranger if you can come and talk? Just talk. But she says yes without a moment’s hesitation.
“Come early Saturday – before the coffee shop opens. I’ll make sure there are muffins!”
On Friday evening Jake starts getting his cycling gear ready. I am ticking things off on my final checklist, so all I need to do is up and leave at the crack of dawn. Jake, on the other hand, simply pops a couple of things in a bag and then offers to help pack the car. But when he opens the door to the spare room (soon to be the baby’s room) and sees the piles of neatly stacked supplies for the weekend, he freezes mid-stride.
“Jeez, Zani, who else is going?”
“Just you and me.”
“But what’s in all these bags? And boxes?”
“You know,” I answer a little sheepishly, “things we may need this weekend …”
“Zani, you need a change of clothes, a warm jacket and food. You know, dinner and breakfast. It’s not the frikkin’ Himalayas!”
“I know, but what if …”
“And what if your ‘what if’ doesn’t actually happen? Then you’ve been wearing yourself down for nothing. You need to travel lighter, my love!”
I can’t help but notice how closely his words echo Vee’s.
In bed, listening to his rhythmic breathing, I envy Jake for his clarity of thought and lack of baggage. Just before he fell asleep I asked him how come he manages to be travelling lightly, physically and emotionally. He was reluctant to start up a conversation – he has to make an early start in the morning – but he humoured me. He said he learned quite a bit from something he’d read that Michelangelo said when a little boy asked him how he knew there was a horse in a piece of marble. The artist’s answer was simple: “I chip away at everything that doesn’t look like a horse.”
Jake said he does that when he looks at people, things and situations – he chips away everything that’s not useful or helpful or beautiful.
Maybe it is time for me to do just that.