THURSDAY, 17 FEBRUARY 2005
If I travel by train from Moscow to Paris and I stay a day or two in Berlin, it will be incorrect to say that my trip has stagnated. My journey is still in progress; I am merely spending a day or two in a place between starting point and destination.
If I travel by train from Moscow to Paris and I stop for a day or two in Berlin, it will also be incorrect to say that my final destination – Paris – does not exist because I have not yet reached it. Paris – my destination – is not going to come into existence as my train draws closer to that spot on the map. The place to which I have been travelling since the train pulled out of the station in Moscow has existed from the beginning of my journey. As I spend time in one place or the other my final destination already exists.
The destination exists independently of me – it is there, long before I reach it, long before I first observe the city on the horizon, long before I walk the streets of my destination, and breathe its air.
I am sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car, on a bare piece of grassland known as My Sister and Brother-in-law’s Smallholding outside Bronkhorstspruit.
My brother-in-law explains about a swimming pool, four bedrooms, a pond and trees that will cast long shadows in a decade or so over dogs and children and grandparents sitting around a barbeque fire, having a good time.
I find it quite interesting. With folded arms I make a comment about “believing in things you cannot yet see” while my brother-in-law brings down a pickaxe from high above his head on a piece of turf where a tree will live out its existence.
I find the time and the place where this series of moments of my life plays out acceptable in terms of significance and entertainment value.
I also know that if I am still sitting here sixty minutes from now, in the passenger seat of a parked car in the African sun, I will become restless … and not quite as pleased with the value and entertainment of the series of moments that will then be my life.
“Short-term gratifications,” I say to myself, and turn the volume on the car audio system up a few notches.