Personal Agenda: Postscript II

From: Letter to Parents



Yesterday was exactly 22 months from the day I arrived in Taiwan, which is important for the simple reason that I was in Korea for 22 months and three days. By next week I will be in Taiwan longer than I had been in Korea.

So the time goes by. I stand in my living room and scan my surroundings, and when I think of how this very room looked when I arrived here, I can’t help but think I’ve done all right so far. I see my computer. I see all the CDs and the books. I see the guitar I bought at the pawnshop for R60. I see my blue electric guitar, and the colour TV …

I don’t teach as many classes at the moment as last year. It was a senseless rush that never gave me proper time for what I really wanted to do. It may sound as if I don’t have my finger on the pulse of reality, but I know enough of the world to know that you must do what you deem fit and what you love, otherwise you grow old and you only played the game those who supposedly knew better than you had taught you. Dad always said I can’t just do what I want to do – that it’s not how the world works. I must admit that I don’t have much respect for how things work.

If you just live your life according to how things are supposed to work you’re exploited by those who don’t follow the rules. I’ve got a bit of insight into the workings of this world, and I have no time for people who want to boss it over me just because they have more money than me, and therefore – because this is how it works – I must do as they say. Anyway, the world doesn’t move forward because people always do the ‘sensible’ thing.

However, it should be stated categorically that I’m not completely naïve. I know all too well what happens to people who don’t take the money business seriously. I know all too well how the hierarchy of our society works. My noble politics will take me nowhere if I don’t have money to support it. Dozens of history books have given me a good idea of how people get to positions of power and how they stay there. And I have gained enough first-hand experience to know that people are tricked into believing certain things, so that those who are above them, can stay above them.

Enough politics. Suffice to say I am exploring other ways to make money. I don’t intend to be poor again. But I’m also not planning on serving other people’s agendas.

This stubborn independence comes at a price, of course. If I had followed a more conventional path, I would probably by now have had the conventional rewards of a house – for which I would have belonged to the bank for the rest of my life, a nice family car – for which I would have belonged to another bank for at least a decade, and a lovely woman with whom I could have shared my life.

Do I think about going back to South Africa at some point? I contemplate the possibility from time to time. I can think of many reasons why it would be good. The reality, however, is that I can earn R10,000 and even more per month in this country, with what is in fact a part-time job. In South Africa I’d have to work where, and for how long every day to get half of that?

Certainly there are possibilities that I have never considered. The problem is to discover these things. If one can spend a year in a place where you regularly exchange ideas with other people, you can surely start working on a few prospects. But how to go back, keep myself alive, not lose momentum with the projects I am working on, and find ways to make money that suit me and my personal agenda …”