top of page

Bang Jan...



Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.


Louise Erdrich


Die appel val nie ver van die boom af nie. Soos jou pa en sy pa gaan jy ook doodgaan. En dan jou kind en dié se kind. As hierdie bal nog in die ruimte sweef. En ek en jy ken die termes van ons bestaan op hierdie planeet: absoluut enigiets kan met absoluut enigiemand gebeur op absoluut enige tyd. Daar’s niks wat jy kan doen om dit te beheer nie. So hoekom sink dit nie in nie? Hoekom hardloop jy weg van hierdie realiteit? Asof jy (en ons) aan die begin van jou lewe die memo gekry het, maar dit dan as ‘n voetnota hanteer, want dit meng ‘n bietjie in met die intrige – glits en glam –  van die storie: So iemand het jou gewaarsku, en dit nie eens soos ‘n waarskuwing laat klink nie, net so terloops, jy weet: "Kyk’ie, hor’ie, ruik’ie – al sekerheid wat ek jou kan gee in hierdie lewe is dat jy gaan doodgaan. Moenie bang wees daarvoor nie, want dit gaan gebeur. Jy hoef nie jou oë toe te knyp nie, dis nie ‘n horror movie nie. Spoiler alert: jy weet wat aan die einde gaan gebeur.” En toe loop jy uit hierdie morbiede meeting en sê oor en oor vir jouself: "Onthou net om nie dood te gaan nie. Vermy dit ten alle koste. Beskerm alles en almal wat vir jou saak maak daarvan. Hou so lank as moontlik aan met leef, want die dood is vreesaanjaend."


In Oliver Burkeman se boek Four Thousand Weeks wat, sonder om te oordryf, my lewe verander het, vertel hy hoe die beeldhouer Marion Courts besig was om haar tweejarige seun af te laai vir sy eerste dag by ‘n nuwe oppasser toe haar man daar aankom om haar te kom vertel van die kwaadaardige breingewas waarvan hy binne drie jaar sou doodgaan. Sy skryf in haar memoir:



Something has happened. A piece of news. We have had a diagnosis that has the statue of an event. The news makes a rupture with what went before: clean, complete and total, save in one respect. It seems that after the event, the decision we make is to remain. Our [family] unit stands.


We learn something. We are mortal. You might say you know this but you don’t. The news falls neatly between one moment and another. You would not think there was a gap for such a thing … It is as if a new physical law has been described for us bespoke: absolute as all the others are, yet terrifyingly casual. It is a law of perception. It says, You will lose everything that catches your eye.



Dis in ons biologiese bedrading om te bestaan – en dan nie; dis in ons psigologiese bedrading om ons lewe lank weg te hardloop van hierdie elementêre feit. Op die hamsterwiel van besigwees en die hedoniese treadmill van prestasie en prestige. As ons onsself vir ‘n oomblik kan stilkry, of deur omstandighede tot stilstand geruk word, kry ons ‘n glimps hiervan en dan jaag ons verder om ons blik op iets anders te fokus. Ons hou dit vas as ‘n abstraksie, as ‘n onbewese stelling, ons hou aan om towerspreuke te leer teen die bewyse daarvan – sag opgeteken in steen, hout en beloftes; ons hou aan om huise en ego’s te bou, om dertig-jaar verbande te teken en te belowe hoe ons mekaar “vir ewig” sal liefhê voor die kansel. 



And then one day, some certitude fissures — in the broken surface of a split lip, a split love, a split in Earth’s quaked crust; in the slow-burning wildfire of a pandemic, smoking its way across the globe until it blazes into a shared inferno; in the cold blade of a terminal diagnosis, sudden and close to the bone.


Maria Popova



Dan word ons wakker in die onverdunde realiteit met ‘n skreeu, ‘n stilte, ‘n hol halleluja.


Ons het AA-groepe vir bykans alle vorms van verslawing, maar nie vir hierdie een – die vrees vir die dood – nie. Die Woord kan nie meer duidelik daaroor wees nie:


 … hulle wat uit vrees vir die dood hulle lewe lank in slawerny verkeer het …



By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.


Heb. 2:15



Alle ander vrese - dié van "uit" wees in 'n groep (vir tieners, maar ook in Stellenbosch en Pretoria en Bloemfontein as ‘n volwassene), dié van alleen wees, dié van buite beheer wees, FOMO, alle vrese is gekoppel aan die vrees vir verlies en dit wat ons beskou as die grootste, uiteindelike verlies.


En as ons gaan bang wees vir die dood, gaan ons bang wees vir die lewe, want nuusflits: die lewe is die ding wat na die dood lei. 


Wat is die anderkant van die morbiede muur hier? 


‘n Lewe van liefde. Omdat liefde nie saam met vrees kan leef nie. 

‘n Lewe van oefen om te laat gaan sodat ons laat-gaan-spiere gestrek en in oefening bly, vir die groot laat gaan. Ons moet ons verganklikheid prakties beoefen



Liz Gilbert se Substack “Letters from Love” waarin mense hierdie practice om Liefde te vra wat Liefde vir jou wil sê (so eenvoudig soos dit) hierdie week het juis gegaan oor verganklikheid en toe sy nou vir Liefde vra wat Liefde vir haar wil sê oor verganklikheid, sê Liefde so (ek kom so halfpad in die brief in hier):


My Little Leaf, it’s okay to tremble at this word. It’s okay to tremble at the world itself — for there is nothing like this planet in terms of terror and unpredictability, at least for a seemingly fragile human sensibility. You already know the terms of existence here on this planet. The terms are: absolutely anything can happen to absolutely anybody at absolutely any moment. And there’s nothing you can do to control it.

I know, I know. That’s a lot to take in.


So my dear, we will practice letting go but we will also practice loving, and that is how you step out of the spinning wheel of life and death, and into the eternal, which is where I am.

But here’s what we won’t do, honeyhead. We won’t cling — not to things, not to people. We won’t chase time, or try to hoard it. We won’t try to reverse days or slow the turning of the earth. We won’t live in anxiety about aging, arguing against mortality, or trying to game it. We will take each moment as it comes, you and I, and when it is time to give the gift of life back to the universe, we will say thank you, and we will give it back. But never, ever, ever — not on this side of the divide or the next — will we stop loving.


Death can take everything else, my love, and we will allow it.


But Love? Death cannot take that.


So. Here’s what we’re going to do, Tiny Heartbeat. We’re going to practice mortality together, you and I. A lot of it. A little bit each day, we’re going to practice getting used to the idea of letting go, which is the same thing as death... For without death, life could not be. Death is deeply familiar, angel. It is everywhere. It’s always been with your kind.


But I have always been here, too. And I am the only thing that outlives mortality. Death is a requirement, but the end of love is not... So my dear, we will practice letting go but we will also practice loving, and that is how you step out of the spinning wheel of life and death, and into the eternal, which is where I am..




As julle nog nie die digter Andrea Gibson se werk raakgelees het nie, doen jouself ‘n guns. Andrea het ‘n paar jaar terug gehoor hulle gaan doodgaan (soos ek en jy), maar dalk vroeër as wat hulle gedink het omdat hulle ‘n aggressiewe kanker het. Hulle het hierdie week op hierdie einste Substack hulle brief van Liefde gedeel en my hart is weer heeltemal oopgeruk. Veral deur die teenwoordigheid en lewingsdrang wat hulle openbaar juis in die aangesig van die dood. Ek sluit ‘n stukkie in, al brand ek om die hele brief aan te haal:



Sweet Security Guard, you are protecting yourself again. You are erecting walls between yourself and life. You know it by the bricks in your chest walking into the doctor’s office, bracing for more difficult news. We are here to remind you that there is no protection that will soften the grief. There is only the willingness to let grief soften you.  


Remember when Buddy wrote, “Lay down your weapons, including the shield.” No line of poetry had ever felt more for you. Reading it, you finally saw that your attempts to keep out the hurt would hurt you more than hurt ever could. Since that day, you’ve understood joy is born from your willingness to feel everything that is not joy. But you’ve forgotten that today — Sweet Chemo Brain, you’ve forgotten that seeking safety is very often the least safe thing in this world.


So trust us again. Trust us to take your tiny hand and walk you to the center of your hurricane-ing heart, until you are again anchored in the knowing that your willingness to drown is the only dry land.


You know how people say “I could die right now” when they fall in love? Each moment you are in love with your life, you feel the same way, don’t you? Listen, Magical Mortal, dying is not a test anyone has to cram for. Nothing will make you less ready than trying to be ready. So no more bending over backwards in a hope to do this just right. This isn’t gymnastics, Eager Olympian. 


You have learned so much you could afford to take a bit of a vacation from the school of life. The recess bell is ringing. The playground is calling. You can sing along to a pop song in the toothpaste aisle of the grocery store and call it a hymn. You can watch shitty reality TV and say it’s a sermon, because it is, Sweet Prayer. What of this day isn’t holy if you are still here to witness it? You are here to witness it. You are not already gone, Sweet Song. The music is still playing. When you think you’ve misplaced your high notes, you’ve simply forgotten that grief can sing them too.


And that’s not to deny, Brave Ballad, how much courage it takes to want what you might not get. Do you know how gutsy it is to admit how badly you want to live? Yes, we love you for working to build a loving relationship with your mortality. But we also love you for screaming “I don’t want to die!” so loudly in the chemo room, you almost got kicked out. (Ooopsy.) We love you, Oopsy Doodle. We love you, Rule Breaker. We love you, Loud Mouth.


The opposite of “I’m going to die” isn’t “I’m not going to die.” The opposite of “I’m going to die” is “I am alive!” You are alive, Andrea. You are alive. That is all that’s true, Andrea. And the truth, you know, Andrea, is the only thing in the universe that will ever truly protect you. 



Ek het die volgende woorde by my man se roudiens/lewensviering gesê: “Ek sal probeer om nie die fout te maak om klein te leef om sy groot afwesigheid te eer nie. Ek sal my bes gee om nog meer lewendig te leef as vantevore. Liefde is 'n energie wat so magtig is, so allesomvattend dat wanneer die persoon wat jy die liefste gehad het nie meer hier is nie, jy nou 'n kruik is met 'n grenslose bron van krag wat voel of dit nou nêrens het om heen te gaan nie. Maar dit het. En ek sal ons liefde en Die Liefde as bron kies. Om sy stories te vertel, om sy naam te noem, om sy liefde te deel. Want verlies is die prys wat mens betaal vir 'n liefde wat geld nie kan koop nie.”


Iemand skryf by die sterfbed van sy jong seun:  “Nou begryp ek, Christus, nou begryp ek uiteindelik iets van die kruis:  ek moet die hele wêreld liefhê asof hulle my eie vlees en bloed is.  Elke mens, soos my eie kind!”



… anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal … 


John 12



Daar’s eintlik nie ‘n keuse nie. Jy kan nie Bang Jan óf Dooie Jan wees nie. Bang Jan gaan op ‘n stadium ook Dooie Jan wees. Maar Dooie Jan hoef nie bang te wees nie.



Deur Frieda van den Heever





Comentarios


bottom of page