The man who is content to sit all alone

February 29, 2016

There is a planter who is always all by himself – no one acknowledges this man it seems. They invite him to functions only because they have too and even then no one ever talks to him….something to do his past…a scandal…a fall from grace perhaps. It’s as though he’s there, but yet invisible.

Every time when I chance on this man – I will always make it a point to ignore the others, zoom right in and greet him in the true spirit of brotherhood and to even ask whether perhaps he might consider joining me for a glass of whisky and a game of billiards in the smoking room.

After that…what follows is ALWAYS the same. Someone will come to me like a scuttling rat and whisper to me, ‘it’s not good for you…a man of such prestige to be seen in the company of such a lowly man.’ Or, ‘no one talks to him for a very good reason’ etc etc etc.

But nonetheless I make allowances for this one man who all have seen fit to condemn to a place called Coventry – as I can tell by his very demeanor. Life has been very hard for him. Many people cannot tell – but I can. As only a planter who always leaves the last button of his bush jacket undone is accustomed to the realities of life where angels fear to thread. Or the faint scar that runs across the far left side of face that lends him a menacing look….perhaps he was once in a war. Yes…and what of the curious manner by which he ties his laces with a double slip knot, which I have only seen Legionnaires do when they talk of that strangest of things – marching with the devil in that God forsaken pit in Africa…his strange habit of pinching his cigarettes ends flat at both ends ever so slightly before he lights them…I’ve seen sailors in the Coite de noire do the same. They say it keeps the ochre dust they call the sea of blood, the Harmattan from fouling the burn….and what of the business of wearing his submariner upside down. With the bezel always set at dead seven, a common trick known only to the most seasoned caravaners who regularly ply the that place they all know as the empire of the bones… the Sahara. As when one stretches out the hand and points to the belt of Orion, turning the watch sideways, the centerline between the where shadow of the moonbeam falls and the watch marker points to where sun will rise…a inner circle trick only those who know the desert very well would be familiar with – yes…these are very small details most people don’t ever notice, but they speak volumes of his previous life – this man’s life must have once been so filled with hardship and pain that perhaps what he has had to go thru to reach where he is today cannot possibly be ever imagined let alone comprehended by the rest of these fools. No wonder he regards them all with a quality of indifference in the way one regards children when they say and do stupid things – as I suspect this man truly understands to live in the world pain may well be unavoidable, but suffering is always optional….there is much learnt from such a high quality man…..if only they all know.

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‘There are many funny people out there in the world. Who might believe you can ALWAYS break a man in half…providing enough pressure is applied – but from time to time, even these bloody fools will come to the dead end of a realization….they’re facing off with a very hard nut that’s unbreakable. A superman.

But have you wondered – what accounts for his superpowers? I suspect it because ALL these men who have once experienced great hardship, all know of a country that lies between stimulus and response. In that space or country, they have all without a single exception had to develop this unusual superpower to choose how they might best respond to go on or die if they fail to do so. In their ability to craft their response lies real strength and that is why they cannot be broken.

This is not a new theme, not at all – I once read of a man who was interned in a concentration camp during the WW2. I cannot remember his name. This man was forced to straggle his own wife to death for the sake of fun to alleviate the boredom of his captors. He had to see his children waste away only to die and be placed like rotting vegetables in a human pile with the dead. His captors took virtually everything imaginable from this man….everything of value…till it seemed only nihilism remained.

But there was one thing that they could NEVER take away from this man – his intellect and the manner he responded to all the unimaginable indignities that man can inflict on the human spirit. To survive, he a consciously made an effort to ‘live’ only in this imaginary country in his head – a resident of this strange country where to bear the unbearable, one would first have to first acquire mastery of that space between the stimulus and how he might best respond. This man even appointed himself as an emperor of this imaginary realm by fashioning a flag out of the remnants of his underwear – may seem comical, but what we have is an act of emancipation of psycho-spiritual liberty in the cruelest circumstances imaginable….and whe the war came finally came to an end. This man thru his remarkable intellect in being able to fashion such a personal world within the world was able to remarry and reclaim his prestige, status and wholeness again….he did it all with grace. imagination and style….that is why, whenever fools come to me and tell me whether I would like to join their conceited clique to bring down this one man who is content to sit all by himself…often I ask of them…do you all not see, you are already so defeated even before anything begins….and usually these fools all look at me as if I too share the same madness as this man…and slowly, they all begin to walk away from me and soon the subject turns to football.

Research and study this ilk of men – do not be afraid to cultivate their company. Find out more about this strange country that resides in between their heads – observe all it like a spy and take notes where possible. As I suspect, there is much wisdom to be learnt in this secretive country.’

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