I was in a taxi on my way back from the lush botanical gardens of Kirstenbosch on the eastern side of Table Mountain. I spent the day wandering through verdant tree canopies and fields of blue and white flowers. Down avenues of ficas and camphor trees planted by one Cecil John Rhodes.
I was having a tough time getting comfortable in my own skin despite the beautiful surroundings. Mallards picked at the garden grass, while families picnicked on the lawn. I watched the clouds roll over Table Mountain's craggy top, but I could not find peace.
Finally, when I stopped and sit to admire the beauty and grace of my surroundings did I find a bit of respite. Over Cape White and Kudu Babobootie Samoosas, which is just as delicious as fun to write, I found a bit of calm as I took a moment of calm to watch the day pass.
I decided to head back in Cape Town. I had taken a cab out to Kirstenbosch, and it had been a tad expensive. I debated trying to hitch my way back. I got out to the main road, but when I realized I had no idea which direction I needed to go, I figured it best just to grab a cab. I decided I was old enough to suck it up and take a cab back rather than some haphazard adventure that could easily be avoided for a few extra rand.
As the cab sped through the city, we stopped at a robot (traffic light) and I spied a blue bukkie (truck) with a bumper sticker that said: One Life. Live It.
I smiled at such sentiments for a number of reasons. While I agree with the sentiment that we should live our life, I don't buy it.
For starters, I feel that I have already lived many lives in this one life.
Moreover, I don't believe that we have only one life.
I feel too connected to too many places to think that this is my first encounter.
I could spin ideas and yarns of my previous days in Southern Africa as Portuguese sailor who foundered on the rocks of the Cape of Storms. Or perhaps an employee of the Dutch East India Company, setting up a refreshment stand for the shops and ships heading to Batavia. Or perhaps I was a Boer heading out from Cape Colony to cross the Orange River away from English colonial encroachments. Or maybe an Ndebele trekking north away from the the disruptions of the mfekane.
It isn't only Southern Africa where I feel such ties. India, when I was a sepoy mutinying. Or maybe I was a part of the British Raj.
Brazil feels too close for just one life. So too the Netherlands.
And of course, France. Vive la vie!
One Life. Live it.
I don't think so.
Many lives; live them all?
Many lives; live each one?
One life by one life?
Bumper sticker wisdom is best kept pithy, and does not lend itself well to reflection.
So perhaps it is best to state: one life; live it long enough, and hope that we will do so well enough to figure out something more by the next life.