Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Walking the desert

Published:Monday | May 4, 2015 | 12:00 AM


A wise man once told a tale. Men of a certain tribe were going on a long journey across the desert and to every man, a camel was given. During the first night's rest, one man neglected to feed his camel. The elder of the tribe warned him, "your camel is more precious than your children on this journey."

The man didn't listen. The journey was long and he constantly ignored the camel. One morning, he woke up to find his camel had died during the night. As the group was about to restart its journey, he tried to hitch a ride with another tribe member. He was pushed from the camel, and beaten. He was told: "he who doesn't care for his camel, must be prepared to walk the desert." So he had to walk for the rest of the journey. His sandals didn't last long, and he had to go barefoot for the last few miles. By the time he finished the journey, has was a mess. Lessons learnt.

OK, I admit I made this story up (although some desert dweller probably has some story that might be pretty darn close to this one). Either way, there is a point to this madness. Sometimes because of our own neglect or downright stupidity, we put ourselves into problems - we lose our camels so to speak. I think it's incumbent on us to walk the desert like the neglectful rider. Don't go borrowing somebody else's camel, and certainly don't steal one. I'm not even sure if you should accept a ride from someone else. You made no attempt to make it across the desert 'the proper way' so for me, you're on your own. Didn't use your head then? Then use your feet now!

It's not always your fault though. To use a cricket term, sometimes life throws you some genuine bouncers. I've seen it happen when the ball hits the pitch and takes off higher and faster than you expected, knocking your helmet clean off. Those I understand. But when you know that there is a fielder in a certain spot, and you hit the ball straight to him, that's all on you. You can't blame the bowler, and you sure can't ask the umpire for another chance. This is life, not curry goat cricket. And quoting a song from Paramore (look them up) "don't go crying, to your mama, 'cause you're on your own in the real world."

But there is the other story of the man who branded himself on the arm so as to never forget a serious mistake he made. But his skin didn't heal right and he picked up an infection. He didn't treat the infection to further 'punish' himself, and ended up losing the arm. Moral of the story? Squeeze your own neck, but don't crack it.

Right now, I'm walking the desert (again). My shoes are full of sand, my legs hurt and the bags are heavy. But no camel, no ride, no complaints. Don't feel bad passing me by, I'll get there when I get there.