Pull back from the detail – tapestry – personal loss


A handyman goes to a neighbouring town late one afternoon to fix a washing machine. For 45 minutes he is focused on the machine in front of him, all the wires and plugs and tubes, and all the tools he needs. Perhaps he lies flat on his back on the kitchen floor with his concentration sharply focused on what he is doing. This is as it should be; this is how he will get the job done properly.

This handyman must however be able to pull back at any moment from the washing machine in front of him, and answer questions on issues more important than this specific washing machine. For example, he must have a vague idea in whose house he is – maybe the local dentist; he should know in what town he is – not his own town, but the neighbouring town; he must know what time he wants to be at home – perhaps around 18:00; he must also know how to drive to get home; perhaps even what the weather looks like outside – maybe he has heard the thunder of an approaching storm. If the situation requires it, he may also consider other things: his age – mid-forties; his family – wife and two children; income – ±R12,000 per month; and his financial obligations – home and car payments, groceries, school fees, insurance policies, etcetera.

Should it be necessary, this handyman would be able to sit back, away from the machine and the tools and tubes and bolts and pipes, and for a few moments consider these things.


On the subject of paths laid out for you, and the steps you take in your youth and your twenties to make this path your own, the following metaphor: a tapestry. The motif was already worked out long before you begin weeks of patient labour with wool and needle. At the end you have a beautiful tapestry. The tapestry is your own. You worked hard on it. But that does not change the fact that the basic image, the pattern, was laid out long ago, by someone else.


How do you continue with your life if you have suffered a great personal loss? I reckon you don’t … you can’t continue with your life as you knew it. That life, that consciousness of things is over. What you do is you start a new life, built on the foundation and with the building materials of your old life. I believe only then can you truly continue with your life.