Fight for the Fighting Spirit – struggle for happiness


A few weeks ago, I noted how vulnerable we all are (“All of us,” I said), and that the only reason we are not completely … ruined is because we find in each other comfort and protection.

Then, on Monday, 16 April 2007 a 23-year-old student in America took two pistols from his drawer, loaded them with bullets, put on his “uniform”, pointed the pistols in the direction of more than sixty people, and pulled the trigger again and again. Easiest thing in the world. Thirty-two people died.

The shooter wasn’t strong. He wasn’t exceptionally intelligent. He wasn’t rich. What he was able to do was to buy two pistols with a credit card, point the loaded pistols in the direction of students and lecturers trapped in their classrooms, and pull the trigger. Thirty-two lives ended, and 32 families are plunged into grief.

We are vulnerable, all right.

Fact is, we all have dark impulses. We all have the ability to kill, and to destroy, and to harm. To find reason not to kill, to find reason not to destroy, and to find reason not to harm, is ultimately our only hope.

* * *

For some people identity becomes a crisis when they realise they have multiple choices, options, and possibilities.


Thursday or Monday or Friday, 13 or 5 or 10 April or September or May.

There was the thought about choices and identity. Then the other night I drove past my old neighbourhood and thought: “I lived there.” And then the disconnect: I lived there?

I-now am in terms of responsibility under the law still the same person as the one who lived in that neighbourhood four years ago, the same person who lived in Korea ten years ago, and the same person who arrived with R100 in my pocket in Stellenbosch sixteen years ago. In terms of spiritual and intellectual growth, I-now am however only related to the person who did X, Y and Z, or who lived in A, B or C; a direct descendant, if you want to be more specific.

MONDAY, 21 MAY 2007

“You know how it is: the dust settles, you settle in, and one day you open your eyes and ten years have gone by. That’s how you end up in a place like this.” ~ thought inspired by a dilapidated house in my old neighbourhood

TUESDAY, 22 MAY 2007

A few days ago I talked with [someone close to me], and she told me how bad things are going – money, property on the market, second child on the way, husband that can’t handle stress. I realised I couldn’t really identify with her problems, and because I couldn’t identify, my options for encouragement and advice were limited: “Hang in there!” isn’t always appropriate.

What can you say? If you say one thing, the other person says something else that undermines the relevance of your advice or the effectiveness of your encouragement. So you find yourself in a position where you are looking for something that cannot be argued with, something that does not depend on something else to happen first for the advice or encouragement to be valid. Hang in there … for what? Because things will change? If they don’t change, “Hang in there!” sounds pretty hollow.

“Fight for the fighting spirit,” I suddenly declared, the conviction back in my voice, “for the sake of fighting for the fighting spirit! On that I won’t compromise.”

Why? It is absolute. It does not depend on anything else like better days around the corner to make it valid. It is valid because the alternative is unthinkable. If you do not fight for the Fighting Spirit, the Fighting Spirit will die. And if that happens, you will never live again.

Even if better times really are just around the corner.

FRIDAY, 25 MAY 2007

Natasja is coming back tomorrow, so I am trying to clean up my apartment – specifically the disorder I call my storeroom. It was here where I recently discovered a hot plate, a book bag that has never been used – and my current one is seriously frayed, and a packet of printed papers dating back to a series of classes I did in July and August 2005.

Between the usual boring lists, vocabulary, sentence constructions and dialogues, the following note dating from Tuesday, 2 August 2005: “From the moment you open your eyes in the morning to the moment they shut late at night you are engaged in a struggle for survival – and for happiness, to make the survival worth it.”