When did it become a sin to waste time? Oh wait, why is it wasting time even? We live in Africa, the place of no time unless dictated by the sun. The place where there is no rush to get anywhere, where it is the journey not the destination that matters. So just when did we forget this mantra? When did we stop taking time to just be, just exist in a moment? To not feel compelled to check a text in that brief pause between actions, to have this restlessness in our own space with our own selves?
On the flight back from London this week I got the window seat. I always choose aisle but I wasn't fighting with the nice lady who upgraded me. And it did me some good. For some reason my reading light wouldn't turn on so I couldn't engage in my ritual, frantic reading of articles on the night take-off and for a moment in quite some time, I was forced to sit and look at the clouds. To do nothing. To exhale. And it almost got a tear out of me. It took me straight back to growing up in our indulgent acre-big garden, lying on my back with my little sister, the grass making our dresses damp, giggling about silly things and nothing really in particular. An idyllic cliche, making shapes out of clouds. Bliss.
Where did that go? Now I find myself condoning crazed behavior; justifying popping to the loo at work if I make a fitting on the way, updating spreadsheets quickly as I scratch for my boarding pass in my handbag, having black coffee because anything else takes too much time. When did I stop taking lunch breaks, watching the planes take off against the skies, brewing a good pot and letting my house smell of fresh aromas just cause? I took Monday off to make a long weekend of Heritage Day and find myself already planning the wording of the odd mail for Monday morning which will undoubtedly ease the guilt a little.
My dad told me the heart-warming story of the American traveller in Africa the other day. I'll probably get the nitty gritties wrong but basically the typical American traveller books a trip to Africa and like most of us, plans his trip back to back, minute to minute of where to go, what to do, and what to tick off his "must see" list. Much like our insta-spamming, instagramming generation. Just make sure you do it all, who cares how you remember it, how you felt.
The American asks some local men to help him travel across the country, guiding him to his desired destinations and helping him port his luggage. After three days of relentless traveling, the men sit down and won't go a step further. When the American asks another man what is going on, the man says: "They are just waiting for their souls to catch up with them."
When did I become that person who inhales my food rather than tastes it? Who sighs at grannies counting out their change at the counter? The restless idler behind the person who dare take more than the appropriate two seconds to accelerate once the light turns green, the frazzled Joburgers I loathed when I first moved to the city?
So this weekend I vow to watch senseless, uninformative series; walk in the garden without plucking out the weeds; and watch the sun go down with a gin in my hand and my love's palm clutched in my other. I vow to let my soul catch up with me a little.