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Reboot – Part 1: Drastic Changes

Grey arrows going in a circle, the last arrow, a red one, breaks the cycle and points in a new direction.

It’s been a year since I’ve started this blog. In that year, so much has happened, but sadly, very little of it was reflected here.

Shortly after leaving the comfort zone of my former employment, despite all my plans and excitement, I crashed and burned. I have lots of theories about this, but I’ll save that for another time.

I think a big part of my problem (?), is how easy I find it to stop doing something that goes against my grain. The moment I discover that a job/company/work environment stands in direct contradiction of my ethics & principles, I’m out of there. I’ve gotten a little better over the years – actually trying to stick it out and fight the good fight; to try to change things for the better. But in a corporate world, any perceived threat to “how we’ve always done things”, is instinctively fought from the get-go. It’s exhausting and I’ve almost always found it entirely fruitless.

Thus, I found myself in this situation again – having left a “safe” job that went against my principles. However, this time I had big plans. Still, another of my problems, is how easily I come up with plans – lots of them, all the time – but how my fear of failure keeps me from executing them. And yes – some of these plans may be utter nonsense, but at the same time, there may just be a great one among them.

Stewing in my dilemma, unable to choose any course of action, I sat around at home, worrying, getting depressed, even manic… Then, at some point, I decided to at least tell my parents (they had no idea that I was unemployed at this stage). I figured if it became necessary for me to become completely dependent on them, they at least deserved to know how I got to that point.

They then asked me if I wouldn’t consider moving back home to live with them. This was not what I had in mind for my new life of freedom, and I immediately rejected the suggestion. They suggested that I could clear my head, start afresh and do my planning from there.

From a financial point of view, it made sense, but in no other way could I think of this as a practical move. My parents live in a tiny town in the southern Free State. It’s extremely rural, unemployment rates are sky-high, and frankly, there is no work even remotely related to any of the fields I’ve studied. I couldn’t imagine it being a good place to start from. It felt like it would set me back even further than I was already – unemployed with no prospects, but now also in the middle of nowhere, 200km away from the nearest place that can actually be considered a city.

The irony is that, even as far back as 2010, I’ve expressed to another friend how much I’d actually love to live in my home town again. I’ve always loved the peace, the relative solitude, being so close to nature. When he asked me what was stopping me from moving back, I pretty much regurgitated the previous paragraph with some minor changes here and there. It came up again one day. He asked me again what was keeping me from doing it, and when I started listing the reasons again, he interrupted and said that I was just making excuses, because nothing I was telling him sounded serious enough or insurmountable to the extent that it should actually keep me from doing it.

But still, I stuck around, trying to “find my way”.

The turning point came in late April (2013). One day after I was due to go and see a Life Coach I had met to try to sort out my issues (and couldn’t, because my unreliable car gave up on me), my mom phoned me and told me that my dad had been taken up in hospital. He had had a minor stroke.

I was immediately shaken – you never really expect to get that kind of news. The initial phone call was basically just to let me know me of the situation and that she was on her way to the hospital (which also happens to be about 200km from their home town). Over the next few days, my mom and I spoke often. I could never speak to my dad directly – he wasn’t allowed to have a cell phone with him and I also couldn’t get through to the ward he was kept on the number I had. As such, I only got second-hand and interpreted information about how he was doing.

My mom kept assuring me that it was a minor stroke and he was doing well. On the Monday evening while I was visiting friends for supper, I received a frantic call – my dad had had a relapse. She was being taken to the hospital again to visit him.

At this point, their plea for me to return home started taking on another dimension for the first time. Even if the stroke(s) had been minor as I was informed, I realised that it was going to take my dad a long time and a lot of rehabilitation to recover. I am also an only child – there are no brothers or sisters who could go and help out. Furthermore, all my dad’s brothers and sisters live in other provinces, very far away. My mom’s brother lives in Namibia. I was the only support available.

I realised that my parents would really need my help. So, I started making peace with the idea of moving back home.

About three weeks later, I was here (dog and five cats too).

On the first day I got back, I drove to the hospital with my mom to go and see my dad. I was rather shocked when I saw him. The first thought that went through my mind was, “If this is what he looks like after doing so much better, I don’t want to know what he looked like before…”

The next day, my dad was released from the hospital and transferred to a rehabilitation centre. Four days later, we went to visit him again. We got there quite early and spent some time chatting with him. He eventually looked rather exhausted and my mom and I decided to go and buy some groceries and some things for him too and give him some time to rest.

But then, while we were busy having lunch, the rehabilitation centre phoned my mom to say that my dad had had another massive stroke and had passed away.

Obviously, the rest of the day was rather traumatic and a bit of a blur. I had to take my mom to a hospital so she could get a shot to calm down and we could drive the 200km home again.

I’m sure it’s been a rather different experience for me than it has been for my mother. I’ve been out of the house for more than a decade while she and my dad saw each other basically every single day for the past 36 years.

My mom was in a daze for a very long time after this, and it came down to me to make most of the funeral arrangements and start dealing with my dad’s finances and estate.

In short, I got here just in time, awful as the events were, to be there for my mom.

It’s been seven months now since my dad’s passing, and I’m still here. My mother is gradually getting better, even though there are still bad days (she’s actually visiting her brother in Namibia for the holidays at the moment).

And regardless of my initial apprehension towards moving back, I must say that it seems it was ultimately a good thing. New inspiration has struck me and living away from the city has had a profound calming and de-stressing effect on me, to the point where I’ve finally settled on something that I want to do, something that I am busy doing. It is something that I want to share with the world, as it’s also not something I’ve ever done before and it’s as much a learning process and a challenge for me as it is an exciting project to occupy myself with.

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