Hope is not a strategy

Written Monday night, only posted now. Busy day …

Things are tough right now. What used to be easy isn’t easy any more, my body is physically exhausted from all of these crazy runs that I am, of course, running quite hard even if not full out. I am not sure what the future holds, and I know it will be fine but I think there is some testing going on here. Now when the going gets tough is when you figure out what you’re really made of, and hey, a struggle story always makes a better story than something easy. Unless that something was the dotcom boom, and that makes a pretty good story too.

But as anyone who knows me well knows, I am stubborn as all get-out. Part of what’s been holding me back, actually, is a lack of commitment (why, no idea). But at least that’s easy to change: all I must do is decide I’m going to be more focused, productive, proactive, etc. and I will be. Hey tomorrow is a new month after all!

It’s a rough time for the world at large, too. There are riots in Egypt; I am terribly concerned about this because I have people there who I consider friends (not close friends, but friends nonetheless), who took me literally into their lives and private clubs, and showed me the most amazing hospitality … and I have no idea what has become of them. The Cairo museum was attacked a few days back, and looters vandalized some of the artifacts, ripping heads off mummies and the like. I was there, less than two years ago in Tahrir Square with Hany. Tahrir means something like liberation, which is a bit ironic I suppose. But in any event I am worried: and I say this with full irony but it’s scary to live in a country where you are one of the “haves” because if anything ever goes awry law and order-wise you have one heck of a big target on your back.

Nelson Mandela is ill. Looks like he’s recovering but it does remind you that he’s human and that South Africa won’t be the same place after he goes. At a Clifton braai last week I realized how afraid I am for the possible future this country could face. People need hope, and not just blind hope but belief that the hope will translate into something. For that, there needs to be real change that people can see, and tap into. Something like the American dream, but obviously not the American dream. And then of course you wonder if things turn south what would you do, as an expat? Stay, or run home? That’s another question you can’t very well answer until the situation arises. Of course all this Egypt unrest makes me think of Iran and the failed Green Revolution. Such a tragedy, but such different turn of events …. General anarchy in Egypt and government-sponsored rape and murder in Iran (and Burma too for that matter). We live in interesting times, but then again, I suppose humanity always has. We make times interesting for ourselves I guess.

Another, related topic, was when I was talking to a potential Hub member we somehow got on the subject of how yes, it’s true that whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you’re right (Henry Ford, I think). But so much of that is fostered by our environment and if you are raised to believe you can, you are more likely to believe it and to achieve than if you are raised believing that you can’t. And THAT, is possibly the single biggest problem with the South African education system. This is the origin of our old enemies, fear and doubt. But how do you change something so big? This is one I don’t want to accept as though I have chosen it, but what to do?

The back half of the week was mainly spent crafting a proposal for government and sitting with various employees in various capacities. Sometimes I love managing. Sometimes I have no patience for it. But hey, much as I wish it might be different, I’m human after all.

Friday afternoon was a bit hectic; we had a meeting with government downtown and the lifts in that building are kind of scary. The doors shut really quickly, on you. So my co-worker and I were looking like we’re in a hurry and some guy holds the door for us, so my co-worker walks in, then as I walk in and the doors almost close on me he hits the number for the floor we’re going to and the lift slams the doors shut in this poor guy’s face as he’s saying “No, no, wait!” It all happened so fast that by the time I realized what was happening we were already on our way! So we did the only thing you can do in those circumstances which is to burst out laughing, and laugh so hard we cried. Maybe you had to be there. The meeting itself was great, very constructive and with lots of great feedback.

Unfortunately it ran so long that I nearly missed the start of the first Advanced class at CCF! That was great fun, we practiced techniques for muscle-ups which is something we hadn’t done in months (hence the need for an advanced class….). Then on to a workout where after about 15 reps my form just deteriorated horrendously on the cleans. My body is exhausted from this Trail Series, and probably I’m mentally tired too. Will be nice to be back to “just” CrossFit again and going all out for sub-10 minutes!

After class I took a video of the one-eyed opera singing car guard. This guy is amazing!! Of course trying to get the video off blue-screened my computer until I tried on a co-worker’s Mac on Monday. Props to Justin Stanford for suggesting that; I assumed it was probably a problem with the SD card. Maybe so, but still something the Mac could handle that the PC could not…

Saturday morning I woke up to see the posted workout was Fight Gone Bad. Now there is very little in this world that I fear like I fear that workout. And doing it the day before a race? Not a good idea. So instead of being very smart and just going back to bed, I went and did it anyway. My one coach told me to go at 70% which I was able to maintain for the first round. After that it was more like 85% … still I scored 275 which is only 12 points less than my PR, and considering that I was specifically TRYING not to go too hard, I am now quite sure that I can achieve my goal of scoring over 300 the next time that workout comes up. Except my wall balls really suck.

After the workout Roland tortured my calves for about 10 or 12 minutes. That was the physical equivalent of what Casper did to me on Tuesday. Wow, “this isn’t going to be pleasant” was really quite the understatement of the day BUT they felt so much better afterward. At this point I had hung out so long that I was invited to participate in the Olympic lifting session (the coaches were being trained themselves by an Olympic lifting coach). Having three coaches watching you at once can be a bit intense but it was actually great to practice my snatch that much with really low weight. And, I learned why you actually do need weightlifting shoes … standing on a plank suddenly I could do overhead squats! Tried not to go too crazy, though, again knowing there was a race the next day.

This was a double birthday weekend; one friend had a picnic in Deer Park Saturday afternoon (her real birthday was the week before but who’s counting). I couldn’t eat the homemade cupcakes before the race but I agreed to eat them immediately after (hey if you’re gonna eat sugar that’s the time to do it). Speaking of sugar, sugar is a hell of a drug: I was talking to this guy at the picnic and he hadn’t had anything to drink but ate 5 cupcakes and damned if he wasn’t acting a little bit drunk! Me, I’ll stick to the sugar in the wine thank you very much …. But fun time though!

I am also happy to report that that is the last weekend for a while where I will let the Trail Series interfere with my social life. Yay for going to bed at 8pm on a Saturday night every once in a while though … Sunday dawned nice and early and I headed out to Paul Cluver wine farm in Grabouw for race #4. This one was 9.1kms, which does not play to my strengths. Also my legs felt like lead … I blame the box jumps. I was told at the time I came in fourth when the official results were out I was seventh (there must have been an error somewhere ….) but actually it doesn’t matter because at this point it is statistically impossible for me not to win the short course series. “No stranger to the top of the order” apparently, but I am tickled pink that the organizer of the series knows me by name now. Apparently all it takes is one season of performing near the top for everyone to recognize you! Fantastically gorgeous drive back to Cape Town, as always on a weekend with the windows down and the music up! That is one of my favourite things about the Trail Series; the driving to and from the races.

The rest of the day was just great: making guacamole, having super-masseuse Meggie come by my place and fix up my tired (and scraped up) limbs … I had taken a bit of a crash on the course, not too dissimilar from my hash crash at the October 2009 daylight moon epic but extremely painful after! That aside, I went to a birthday party at the Bakoven pirate cove which was very cool because I met a bunch of really interesting new people. Cape Town may be a small town but it never ceases to amaze me how you can go to pretty much any party and meet some amazing people you’ve never met before. And then have Facebook take credit for it with its strange new algorithm that I haven’t quite figured out yet …

Yes, there is an easter egg in this blog post.

After a long and tough management team meeting today flew by; I think the best thing we did was get together with the FoodTents team to discuss some of the thinking that has gone into the business model and the value we want to offer. That context down we can now start to dig deep, and dig in, and make sure everyone is aligned. If you can’t see where you’re going, God help you trying to get there. Nothing worse than a team marching to the beat of different drummers.

I was vacillating back and forth about whether to go to CrossFit or yoga in the evening. I eventually chose yoga and good thing I did because a relatively light set just about killed me. My body, despite lots of sleep (8+ hours for the last 3 nights) is just exhausted. Said it once and will say it again: I love the Trail Series but my body does not. Time to introduce some longer conditioning into my workout routine I suppose, so that come the Winter Trail Series I can do better with less effort and also put less stress on my body.

So, these learnings in mind, on to February!

• “If this weight doesn’t feel heavy … don’t worry. It will.” – Janie
• “Let this be a lesson to all of us. Don’t buy cheap cupcake holders.” – Dan
• “I usually charge for that, but for you, I’ll do it for free.” – Sam
• “Do you know what rugby is?” – Dan
• “You’re still a bit of a chick driver. You don’t just forget to use the clutch!” – Justin
• “People don’t learn lessons until they are ready.” – Jon (paraphrasing)
• “That’s an understatement.” – Adriaan
• “As bad as it is, we need to understand what it is.” – Ellie


One comment

  1. I've always wondered about the American Dream myself. Is it unique to to the USA? Surely there must be an Egyptian Dream, a South African Dream, ETC. I don't really remember growing up with a British Dream, but then again I grew up with galloping inflation, regular power cuts, and a general sense that things were falling apart.

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