The Sins of the Father

To know the future you have to know the past. How many misunderstandings and fights can be eliminated if we simply take the time to try and understand.

When dealing with people, as we all do on a daily basis, it is essential to know and understand where people are coming from – on an emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological level – if we are ever to understand the person.

Ignorance is bliss. An old cliche, but one that runs true, to this day. It is very unfortunate that, due to our rushed lifestyle, it has become the norm to judge and walk away as opposed to trying to understand and really come to grips with situation. Ignorance to the guy next door has become so acceptable that it is frowned upon to stop and ask someone if they need help. Equally important, however, is knowing when to stop helping. Some people continually get caught up in the same situation time after time, simply because they personally have not learned from their past and are unable or unwilling to see what they need to change.

Let’s delve deeper into this. We act as we see, we speak as we hear. Children, the little sponges of society, suck up everything they see and hear. Through their, yet undeveloped, emotional state of mind they interpret and imitate. It really is that simple.

How can you expect your child to resect his property, school bag and toys for instance, if your car is a constant mess and dirty? How can you fight with your child for swearing if you do it? How can you punish your child for leaving his clothes all over the place if you do the same? This art of a child’s upbringing teaches him lessons about how to live life. Instead of telling them, we should be showing them how to do it.

More important than this however is the way we speak to our children. I have seen grown men and women cry for the acceptance of their parents, reaching out for love and understanding. The effect of tough love, reverse psychology, constant criticism in an effort to get children to perform better and more. Unfortunately you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, unless he sees the error of his ways and choose to learn.

Let’s face it: every generation differs from the last. Your parents will never be you and you will never be your parents. True? Not entirely. Hang on to that thought for a moment. I’ll get back to it shortly.

I believe that we are on the brink of a change in society in general. Our generation is key to teaching our kids to be an integral part of a more understanding, considerate society as a whole.

Our parents grew up with mothers who mainly stayed at home to raise the kids while dad was away, making money.

Our mothers were taught that you keep quite, respect your husband and keep your house in order. Young men did not really have a choice either: you finished school, did your military service, signed up as an artisan, worked your behind off to provide for your family and went out with the boys whenever you pleased. Sundays you went to church, whether you liked the denomination or not. Their parents gave the final yes or no with regard to marriage and immediately after you got married the pressure was turned on to start a family. Our fathers would never change nappies or prepare bottles. Their only job was to discipline. All the while, these young men and women were left with immense frustration about their lifes, their jobs, their spouses, with memories of freedom typically associated with the late 60’s and 70’s or dreams and ideals which were never realised.

Their parents (our grandparents) in turn grew up as survivors of The Great Depression and World War 2. Our great-grandparents as survivors of World War 1 and so you can carry on. All of these events changed their behavior and thought patterns and actions. All of these were imprinted onto the next generation, each with its own resentments, anger and frustration. Each carried over to the next up to this crucial point where we have the opportunity to turn it around. How can we do this?

Go back now to my previous statement: our parents will never be us and we will never be our parents. Let’s break it down.

Our parents will never be us. You can not change that. Forget about it, it is not going to happen. They have their ideas about life, how things should or should not be done. That’s just the way it is, it’s never going to change. All you can do is ask for their acceptance and support, no matter what. Here I really have to thank my mom and dad. They may criticize, but they never blame and they never judge.

You will never be your parents. This is the tricky bit. We are only human and once, a long time ago, we were also no more than emotionally undeveloped sponges. We have seen and heard the way our parents operated when we were kids. We may carry our own anger and resentment about what they did or said. We may say ‘I will never be like my mother / father’. Unfortunately it does not always stop there. I think if we were to be video taped for a period of say 1 week, we would be very surprised to see how much we act like our parents did. It is very easy to say ‘I will never do that / say that / act like that’, but in reality it has been so imprinted on our subconscious mind that, in a moment of anger or frustration, your fight or flight mode activates automatically and it is in this time when it happens: you turn into your mother / father. Why, because it is what you knew as a child, and it scared the s@!t out of you at the time, so it must be effective.

Our generation have a huge responsibility to spot these natural actions, to understand where they come from and commit to change.

Apart from global warming, recessions, natural disasters and celebrity scandals, we have not had to deal with anything remotely as traumatic as a World War. We have all the resources and responsibility to ensure that our children grow up to be complete human beings with an understanding and compassion for the next guy. Only once this is achieved will we build a better world.

Let the sins of your father act as a lesson on what not to do, rather than a manuscript on how it should be done.

Chasing ….

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love people. Not really the people as such, but more the subconscious “what makes them tick” part of the human race. Why do people say what they say or do what they do?

I find it just fascinating to sit and watch. Not in a judgmental way at all, just observing and trying to figure out their actions and reactions. Spotting the fake versus the real. I suppose it makes me a bit of a voyeur? A coffee shop in a busy mall, restaurants and parties are all good places for this. My personal favorite definitely has to be parties or pubs – any place where alcohol is consumed. It is amazing to see the transformation people undergo. My big advantage here is that I am not a big drinker. Two, maybe three drinks, and I’m sorted. I simply don’t see the point in getting wasted. I don’t judge peole who do enjoy this, just personally I prefer keeping my wits about me and observe. Observation alone, however, is never enough. I believe that introspection goes hand in hand with this practice in order to make it a beneficial one.

In past relationships (school, personal and work) I have been labeled boring and conservative. I have always denied this. I suppose you could say that it is a form of self-defence. Perhaps (and this the one I’m going with) it is simply because I know myself well enough to know that I am not boring.

Today we watched The Skywalker on Discovery World and, even though it is an adrenaline packed adventure, I actually got bored. I turned to Sudoku while Jacques and Luke were nailed to the TV. This got me thinking. Does not being an adrenaline junkie make me boring? No!

I think that there are mainly two groups of people: those who chase the rush and those who chase the calm.

Both of these groups have their pro’s and con’s.

The junkies, who chase the rush, are to be admired for their go and determination to face fears and push personal boundaries. They accomplish things, which others might consider impossible. On the down side the problem is that if you solely chase the rush, you will sooner or later run out of things to do and what then? “The Skywalker” personally admitted to the fact: the rush, in the moment, is something incredible, something that can’t be described. However, facing divorce from his wife of 13.years, he was left with a situation where even his biggest challenge no longer gave him that lasting thrill and he was left depressed afterwards. Is this then the point where they turn to alcohol and drugs to provide the rush they live on?

The chasers of calm, and this is where I fit in, is on a constant search for tranquility and peace. Take me, for instance, I would prefer spending two years in Tibet, walking with monks in nature in search of the inner self, as opposed to spending 2 years searching the highest cliff to jump from. The down side to this is that you miss out on the thrills and don’t ever really know what you are physically capable of. Do chasers of the calm ever turn to drugs and alcohol?

The conundrum we are faced with then is this: which is the best path to follow? Which one of these is the best for he development of your spirit? Which path will leave you stronger to face the reality that is life?

I would say that it is about finding the balance. Soul searching, finding the calm, finding the peace is the most important, but helps nothing at all if you don’t test your physical boundaries from time to time. Equally, pushing your limits ever further without knowing who and what you are, is guaranteed to leave you restless yet again.

What a complex race we are?!

For now I will settle in my “boring” existence and enjoy the calm, while skydiving remains on the bucket list!

Ormonde Harvest Day

It is with a new appreciation for wine that I sit today and savor my glass of Cabernet!

On Thursday we were invited to the Harvest Day celebrations at Ormonde situated on tranquil grounds in the small West Coast town of Darling. As usual, no expense was spared to make the day a thoroughly enjoyable one for all. Owner, Theo Basson, his wife and marketing team went all out to ensure that we enjoyed the best they have on offer.

The day started with harvesting of the Cabernet Franc grapes. We were, naturally, no match for the speed with which the farm workers did their bit. Honestly, I don’t see how the workers manage to do it for the entire harvest! After only about half and hour my back was in agony and I knew that there was no way I could do this for a full day, let alone a month of harvesting! They move through the vineyards like hungry locusts and not a minute went by without hearing one of them shout “Mandjie!”. Nosifwe, or Goggo as everyone knows her, especially worked with more passion than I have ever seen. Her voice and laughter rang across the vineyards more than any of the others and it thus came as no surprise to learn she had the most tokens. The Basson family culture of looking after their staff became evident when speaking to the workers. The workers are all happy, friendly and eager to work.

It is said that the Basson’s are not very popular with the other farms in the area due to their “monopoly” of the work force. I say well done. They pay excellent wages and rewards and bonuses are put on the table on a regular basis. For every basket of grapes harvested, for instance, they are rewarded with a token. These tokens can then be exchanged for goods at the farm shop. They offer free transport for the workers and have a creche for the children. The fact that they have workers from as far as Calvinia and that they had no striking workers during the wage protests are testament to the respect they show the workers.

After the harvest we were taken to the cellar where we could see the grapes we had harvested being processed. Wine maker, Michiel, also gave a taste of the Sauvignon Blanc mush, straight from the tank, and I must say I really enjoyed that! The most fun, however, was the stomping of the grapes! It is something which holds such an old world charm and I’ve always wanted to do it. If ever you have the opportunity, kick of your shoes, wash your feet and jump right in! I certainly can’t wait to receive my bottle of wine, stomped with my own two feet!

The day came to an end with a beautiful lunch at the tasting room. We were treated to salads, roast veggies and lamb spit! Yummy! Of course, there was an endless supply of their award winning wines. I particularly enjoyed the Ondine Chenin and Ormonde Pinot Noir. After lunch we enjoyed desert in the lush gardens. The desert set out was a perfect pick: a chocolate mousse pecan pie served with their Pinot Noir ice-cream. I can’t wait to get my hands on more of this delectable treat!

By the time it was over I had no inclination to leave. I would much rather have opened up another bottle of Pinot Noir, settle into a hammock under shade of the old trees and watch the sunset. Instead, we got into the car with our wine gift packs and tackled the long road home.

After having seen, and taken (a small) part in the process, I will gladly pay the asking price for a good bottle of wine!

I am so grateful for all the time and effort put in by the farm workers and estate owners, just in order for us to sit at home and enjoy their offerings.

Thank you to all involved, it was a day I will never forget!

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