I ain’t done with living yet…

Waiting to board a dhow
Waiting to board a dhow, Inhaca Island

Who would have guessed that nearly two months since I’d left Inhaca Island, straddling a dhow to Maputo (capital of Mozambique), I’d be taking my morning coffee in the garden of a fine house around the corner from the home of the vice-President of Indonesia in Menteng, Jakarta?

In the past five or so weeks since I’ve been in Indonesia, the EngageMedia team here launched the Time for Reel Action DVD I’d produced. Soon after I was to slump to my bed with dengue fever that saw me spend two nights in hospital as my white blood count dropped to 10 platelets short of a transfusion. Two weeks ago I’d dropped into a hole on a warm night in Bali, mangling my left foot, my right dangling in sewage and all manner of ugliness below street level.

My daughter cared for me in her cool pad in Seminyak whilst I returned daily to a clinic to have my wounds cleaned and dressings changed. The day after I’d fallen, someone I’d been quite fond of wrote that she’d lost interest in me due to my alleged “self-obsession” with these “dramas”. Oh well…

I reflected on her words that evening as I thrust the sash of my bag between my teeth, gripped the edge of the bed and called out, “Ok sister, go for it…” My wounds were found to have not been cleaned properly so I had to endure an hour of wiping and brushing without anaesthetics! It was perhaps the most gruelling experience I’ve had yet to face. I’d thought the crushing pain brought on by dengue was bad enough, but this was something else.

Dramatic? Well, it was… Self-obsessed? I do spend a lot of time thinking about my work and playing guitar, but I can well do with out the dramas.

Back in Jakarta and a guest of Heidi and Andrew’s (both of whom nursed me through dengue), I’m finding both time to repair my feet and catch up with the work I’d not been able to muster during those odd periods of sorry health. I don’t get sick that often and apart from the occasional whack to my shins and an over-sat, some what achy back, I’m not prone to many physical ailments. All this changed in November of 2009.

Late last year problems I’d had with my back finally caught up with me. I was only a day or so away from heading to Malaysia to run a workshop. A team of print journalists were eager to improve their video production skills. But it was not to happen. I’d not been able to get out of bed. What followed was months of exercise and careful planning around my work practises. Eventually I got careful, stronger and better.

Then, two weeks before I was to leave for South Africa in May, I’d some how managed to acquire a viral infection in my right lung that left me bed ridden at best, sleepless and gasping for breath at worst. Thankfully, with the help of two powerful antibiotics, I got to Johannesburg and Quiet Mountain where I’d spent a week at one of the rare face-to-face APC board meetings . It was to be a month before the next ailment, but those four weeks prior were nothing short of inspired.

What transpired is best encapsulated in an improvisation Roy MacGregor and I  cooked up one warm afternoon after a day of libations and casual chatter. We played a lot of guitar together spending ten days roaming Kruger National Park, Mozambique and Nelspruit. Although many more musical revelations were to follow, this was one of the few captured on video.

Take a moment to listen and reflect on Pecan, performed at the foot of Sudwala Caves. For me, it’s a very special piece that some how captures the warmth and breadth of our friendship.

Roy taught me many things – ‘how one lives well with little’ is perhaps the most important lesson I’d left South Africa with.

Oh Lordy, I ain’t done with living yet…

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6 thoughts on “I ain’t done with living yet…”

  1. Glad you are on the mend. I too am working to reclaim my health, want to be a fit old man.
    Cheers from here

  2. It’s weird though, I am now so over-cautious! From hanging out in the kitchen with knives to where I place my feet on the ground! All good though… the results from some of our good works in Indonesia are bearing sound fruit.

  3. i would welcome self-obsession when embroiled in ill-health – more noble and worthy a spiritual take than the matyrical game of “oh i’m really just fine, pleasing you still.” Commisserations for the horrors, I can only sympathize back-wise – I was 2 days bum-elevated off the floor, lieing on the floor, while your were suffering this. I’m sure Akira is a good nurse, and trust that she being your nurse provided bountiful compensation. I’ve listened/watched the impro session. It owes nothing to suffering and honours all experience.

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