My stomach is doing somersaults in the backseat of the taxi as I listen to the Uber driver tell me about his kids. I usually find these random conversations draining, and tend to discourage them, but this time, on this ride, never mind. I engage. Besides, I need some distraction from the unease residing in my stomach.
The taxi driver’s son, aged twelve, is getting into trouble with his teachers for threatening the bullies that make his little sister’s life hell at school. One of the bullies is a classmate of hers, who one day pulled her into the boys’ toilets. No physical harm came of her, but what the fuck?! This boy is about 9 or ten years old, as is the driver’s daughter.
The experience left a big scar on her, and probably on the other kids in the school. My driver shares that he has since pulled her out of that school and has put her in an all girls school, where she won’t have to deal with potential rape on the school grounds.
I despair of this, applaud the warrior big brother (12 is way too little to have to deal with such nonsense), and say some words of encouragement and acknowledgement to their father as he drops me off at the airport for a work trip to Joburg. I also silently thank the love he gives his children. This kind of love can save a life.
Once he leaves me, my attention returns to my stomach, which is still somersaulting for its own reasons, reasons that have nothing to do with violence perpetrated by little boys on little girls, and love.
As I was getting ready for this trip in the morning, I had told Nina and Sara (they very graciously allow me to stay nights at their home in Woodstock to help bridge the long trip from my home in Imhoffs Gift to the airport), that I’m done. I’m done with feeling like this every time I approach this corporate work, especially since it isn’t even its demands that make me knot up with anxiety. I simply fail to understand what this evoked stress is about.
After talking to Nina and Sara I had repeated the message to God, and was more specific: “Look Goddess, thank you for this piece of work. I am beyond grateful for it, but this doesn’t feel right. Look at me- I’m a mess. I want to serve you, obviously, but this cannot be the way. I need to find another way please, a new way which fills me with pleasure and joy; a new way which nourishes not only the group of people I work with, but also me; a new way which makes me look forward to, and not wish to run away from it”.
“Oh yes, Amen”.
As I board the plane, I try to breathe the anxiety away, and close my eyes to go into a meditation. The seats next to mine are occupied by a daddy and his maybe six year old boy, sitting in the seat between us. The boy, who is very cute, is playing one of those ‘find the enemy and shoot him down’ games on his iPad, which is making loud gun and explosives noises. Occasionally he shouts “shoot him! Shoot him!” at the screen. Hm. We facilitate it for them, don’t we? This everyday violence.
I watch myself go into immediate judgement and irritation, and elect to mute out the sounds by listening to music through my earphones. I notice though that I’m still sitting in judgement, so, to save myself, decide to look for the good in this, and am able to see how attentive the daddy is to the little boy. He talks to him and is fully present in the moment. This boy is obviously very loved.
The following day I present my work, and the day long session goes effortlessly, successfully even. But it soon became apparent that the persistent stress and anxiety experienced earlier had been presented for a purpose…
A day after the session, I board the Gautrain for Pretoria and travel to Mamelodi to spend the weekend with my family. Whilst there, I ask my sister to take us shopping for home made scones- they are quite big in townships, and often get served at big events such as funerals and weddings. Sometimes they are referred to as funeral scones, dikuku. No family would dare host large groups of guests without them.
My mother used to bake for us when she was alive, but since her death, well…
As my sister and I get to the spaza bakery which sells bucket loads of these deliciousnesses, we are greeted by a small, slim woman who is just about levitating off the ground, with her radiant personal energy. Prana, or life force is oozing off of her. She is smiling even with her eyes as she takes our order, and shows us samples of the variety of her baked creations. This woman is on fire, and I want some of that!
When we leave, after purchasing some very basic straight forward but delicious scones,
my sister tells me that this baker woman used to be a teacher. But her first love was baking, so she used to get up early every morning to prepare her dough, and bake trays upon trays of scones and biscuits when she came back home from her job at the school.
This had been her life, until she one day decided to pull the plug on her false love, and put all her energy into her truth: baking full-time. The universe noticed, and orchestrated some major sponsorship which enabled her to build an extension onto her home in order to accommodate the massive state-of-the-art ovens that were donated to her.
She now supplies all sorts of events and caterers with her baked goods, has included catering into her repertoire, is employing a number of support staff, has dropped a decade in her physical appearance (I’m sure), and gained utter joy and vitality in the process. Again I say, I too want some of that.
I consider this woman’s story, and wonder if this is what my somersaulting stomach was about? Perhaps my system is trying to tell me something which I cannot say out loud, to my ears?
When I leave Gauteng on Sunday, my wise stomach, the place of my Hara, my second brain, continues to admonish me, and intesifies its messages by sending waves of breath-taking cramps which shoot exploding pain through my belly. I am in agony. I struggle to sit still on the plane as the cramps stab me from within, feeling as if there is a baby inside of me that’s ready to be birthed, but that is holding on for dear life onto my internal organs, and won’t let go. The pain is literally gut wrenching.
I writhe in my window seat, trying not to attract any attention at all, except for when I have to ask everyone to let me through as I stumble to the toilet to retch. The toilet is filthy and sticky and stinky, which only makes me heave some more. I hurl into the toilet bowl till there’s nothing left inside of me, and still continue to hurl regardless. It takes all energy out of me and hurts like hell.
This continues the entire trip back to Cape Town, even as I wait for the Uber driver to take me to Nina and Sara’s. For some reason I had decided not to ask for help from airport staff even though I could hardly walk or push my luggage upstairs to the taxi pick up point.
The stomach assault continues on Monday, necessitating my pulling out of my Monday and Tuesday jobs. Not good. I need the money.
On the positive side, love and friendship are profound, and Sara and Nina are model carers, running me a hot bath, putting me to bed, and even taking me to the doctor the following day. And thank you Kudzai for making me healing chicken soup when nothing else would go in, or stay in my system. Such loving kindness…
I am well aware that this abdominal issue is nothing new, in fact is the very one that had me hospitalised last year. I’m shocked that it’s still around, given that I’ve dealt with it in the past. What exactly is it telling me? And why can I not hear?
Deep down though, I do know.
I take a look at myself, and am saddened by the state of me. I have no energy, no prana, no vitality. Sure, I look as if I do, because I’m good at pulling the veil over when the situation demands of me, but I am depleted.
My life is a complete disappointment of potential, my work utterly unfocused and nowhere really. I am not where I thought I would be at this age, not that I ever imagined anything specific. But this is not it. I’ve picked up a massive amount of weight, and debt, am completely unfit, and work keep slipping through my fingers. I cannot see how I will continue life, if nothing changes.
Is that baker woman living her passion? Her purpose? Is she fulfilling her destiny? And how did she get there?
What is the measure of the worth of my contribution? Of my life? Of me?
When people ask me what I do, I tell them that my work is about helping people move from a dissatisfied sense of self, to a more fulfilled and aligned, congruent with higher meaning Self. This is what Maslow would call the self-actualised self. Essentially I walk with people, in companionship, on their journey to find meaning in their work and life, and to align who they are to a greater purpose.
Why do I feel called to do this with others, and yet struggle to find it for myself? Very often I feel like a fraud when I do this work. I feel like I’m living without integrity. I struggle to figure out what my purpose is, or when my destiny will be clear to me.
I entitled this piece Virabhadrasana, which is the Warrior Pose in yoga. It’s based on the story of an Indian mythical warrior, Virabhadra; Vira meaning hero, and Bhadra, friend.
I hope that the immense energy of the cramps and the vomiting, of the now frequent storm in my belly, will be available to me, so that the warrior energy in me can be awakened, and ignite my own passion, inject vitality into my organs, and make me excited to be alive.
I hope my inner warrior fills me with great courage to persevere along an unformed path; to be patient with the universe, but mostly with myself; to trust even though I see nothing to put my trust in, except Divinity; and most importantly to make even my eyes smile.
I too want to save myself, like the twelve year old brother who saves his sister, and meet my own Vira within.
I too want my warrior self to be my greatest ally, my companion Bhadra in my own battle of life, mostly against myself.
I too want to win at life.
It is time for me to win my life back.
Right now I continue to dwell in the dark, with nothing formed ahead of me. I have no idea where life is taking me, but I sit in faith and trust and in Divinity, and can only just show up to life’s calling.
For now, I’m going to just show up.