Peridot, being the center stone of the golden headpiece Angela had to find to begin her mission, in Birthplace of the Sun, meant that its purpose had to perfectly fit the story. The beautiful thing is that when I chose peridot, to be the center stone, it was on faith alone. It was only months later when polishing the story, and researching its different aspects more fully, that I discovered all these amazing attributes to Peridot and how perfectly it actually fit. If ever there was a validation of Steven Pressfield’s thoughts (as he expressed them in the amazing: The War of Art, which I’ve recently completed and blogged on in my LyLau Artistry blog) on Muses (I see them more as guides) who support artists, writers, and the like, I have to say it was this. It gave me that ah-hah moment of wonder at the entire process and an awed ‘Wow!’ with huge gratitude for being part of it all.
The following sites were consulted, and I share just a few of the attributes from each, with the odd note of my own:
Legend has it that, Peridot if set in gold dispels terrors of the night, even as it protects the wearer from the evil eye (jealousy), which Angela would battle nightly till her mission was successfully completed;
It is said to help one understand ones destiny or spiritual purpose, and Angela would use it to find her powers of healing;
Peridot gives self confidence, which any person would need once they’d learned that they were one of the Birth Mothers of earth;
It also heals and regenerates tissue;
The Bishop of Mainz (1100 years ago): ‘…is shown true spiritual preaching accompanied by miracles.’
Also known as Chrysolite;
First mined in 1400BC, on Topazo Island, in the Egyptian Red Sea;
It is formed of very slowly cooled magma, as the east solidified;
It is also found in meteorites;
Hawaii’s black basalt rocks are studded with tiny Peridot grains;
South Africa’s Kimberlite (mineral matrix where diamonds are found) holds microscopic grains of Peridot;
Cleopatra’s emeralds are believed to have actually been Peridot;
The Smithsonain houses a stone of 310 carats;
Believed to be the second gem in Aaron’s breastplate in the Bible and may also have been the seventh foundation stone for the New Jerusalem.
As a child, there were clearly defined rules and roles
The men went out to work and provided for the family, as they had for centuries, whilst the women took care of their home, children and husbands. Breadwinner status gave men certain responsibilities in terms of ensuring the financial wellbeing of their family and together with that came authority. Breadwinners determined what they would pay for, so the one who paid the bills ‘knew what was best‘ and resisting that meant risking losing their financial support.
Role hierarchy was implanted into our psyche. We learned, observed and collated, as fact, what our roles would be based upon the society of our youth. When it suddenly changed, it caught us all off guard and we suddenly found ourselves in unchartered territory, leaving us uncertain of how to deal with all the issues it created.
Women began contributing towards the rent and other expenses giving them a more meaningful say, resulting in a shift of responsibility, and with it a sharing of the accompanying authority.
As women became co-breadwinners, they also gained nearly equal legal rights in society, and so they naturally expected the same consideration at home, resulting in many a family quandary.
Women who were not granted that consideration, now also had the means of escaping the relationship that was not fulfilling their needs, rocketing divorce rates and dividing family units.
‘…you have a veritable army of warriors at your beck and call, for goodness sake! I don’t feel you need me anymore and I am not sure…what role…what purpose…I am supposed to play in a relationship like that,’ Jacques confessed.
– Birthplace of the Sun
The heroic couple in the novel each have to face their own fears, uncertainties and insecurities, as they grapple with a rapid role change thrust upon their budding relationship. But, they also need to have the courage and trust in one another to share their feelings, for without full disclosure they could not hope to grow stronger together. Will they both have what it takes to go there?
Going there takes enormous courage
To the outsider it may appear as though Jacques is weak but, in fact, it takes a heroically strong person to reveal their true feelings. It takes a person who is incredibly confident within themselves and who does not rely on others opinions for self-validation. A person needs to be superbly secure to risk losing everything, as they recognize the value in a strong relationship that will endure over time. Someone like that, will not want to waste time hanging onto the illusions of a relationship that cannot last. Finally, it takes that much courage to make every relationship work and everyone who has gone there is incredibly heroic.
The solution may not be the same for everyone and, though challenging, that’s okay
Individuals need to find a personal solution that works for them, whilst society addresses the consequences, how to avoid the potential fallout implications, and how to find a working solution to support the issue.
Any solution should first be openly and honestly discussed before being freely agreed to by equals. It should be flexible enough to change over time, as each couple adapts to the updated circumstances in their relationship, and it therefore requires constant revisiting and work to succeed.
The x-ology of answers
Seeking answers only youth’s seek, I majored in Psychology looking for that one-size-fits-all insight into the human psyche and was left personally disappointed. My unfairly high expectations remained, not too surprisingly, unmet. The strings of universal theories, which became law until they were disproven, left more questions than answers. I, being the contrary being that I am – the curious ‘Divergent’ – did not seem to ‘fit’ into any of the box options presented.
Over time, however, I’ve come to a new perspective…Not everything can have a single universal solution and that to seek one is often naïveté, especially with regards to humanity. Aged wisdom (if I may be so bold, facing the big 5-0) has taught that questions are often as important as answers, for they lead to unforeseen treasures through exploration of the concepts themselves.
The later study of EcoMetrics (based upon Ecology) completed the picture, in the validation that I was not the only odd-ball out there and that we are all unique and process differently, which is actually a beautiful thing to be celebrated. Further, it revealed that evolution is alive in us all. Who we were last year, or ten years ago, is seldom the person we are today for we are constantly changing and adapting. But, we do also have an area of consistency at our core – an area which some would argue is our inherent being, which I like to think of as our soul attributes.
Ecology requires us to learn from our past experiences, to prioritize our needs according to our current circumstances, and to draw on all our talents (learned and inherent) to become who we are today. It taught that we can and do choose to change, as we roll with life’s punches and kisses.
Psychology highlighted the power of questioning, even as Ecology highlighted the celebration of diversity.
Men who opt to embrace the new social reality, have other challenges to deal with beyond the struggle to also find a new role for themselves. They have to deal with the perception, from their unaccepting peers, that they are somehow weak and hen-pecked for seeing reason. The fact that this route usually shows strength of character, confidence in their manhood and foresight, may become lost beneath the weight of judgement.
Whereas, men who resist the change will find their relationship partner choice greatly reduced and, with time, even their career opportunities as organizations move towards full equality.
Woman also face battles but with other choices and challenges:
Toughen up and fight: Where they’re the new kids on the block, and do not fully understand the rules of engagement in a world still run by men, where the constant fighting leaves some less feminine and more militaristic (a little scary in fact). They are so set to fight that they may even battle to know when and how to stop fighting and pick their battles for a more balanced view;
Overwhelmed: Others are not fully ready to deal with the new burdens, challenges and responsibilities, and some may even long for the return of a-man-in-charge to save them from the constant decision burden at home at least, which would explain some of the success of ‘Fifty shades of grey’ and similar;
Rework the rules: Choosing the more co-operative route to find a new way that will work, requires maturity on both sides in order to compromise for ultimate win-win success.
Status quo: Reject feminine power, choosing to ignore the change and to keep things as they were.
Any of the above have their merits and their challenges, and it is up to the individual to decide what will work best for them after considering all the consequences. Everyone has the right to decide freely on the route they would choose to follow, as long as it is done without fear or pressure.
Once made, a decision must be respected and clearly followed, as there is very little room for fence sitting in the name of convenience.
A case in point…I know a lady in her mid thirties who is married with two young children. She and her two boys recently left her husband, once she realized that he was not going to change. He’d beaten her, taken numerous amours on the side threatening her with them and he’d used her salary to pay their bills. When they’d first separated he would aggressively confront her insisting that she pay the money he needed to have his criminal record squashed because she had caused it by reporting his abuse to the authorities. The fact that squashing a criminal record is even possible, moral or should be permitted at all…I will not get into here. Though fearful, she’d stood her ground and he eventually changed tack becoming more conjoling and wanting to move in with her to save money, insisting that he loved her. Despite that, he still refused to own up and acknowledge his wrongdoings to his family, who had falsely blamed and ostracized her for the breakup. He still wouldn’t take responsibility, as deep down he still believed that the man ‘owns’ his family and that he was within his rights to do as he pleased with them. The issue is that this traditional man was fence sitting. He wanted her equal money and support but he refused to be honest, change his ways and grant her the accompanying equal rights and respect. The result was that she learned to stand up for and insist upon them for herself.
Any relationship will disintegrate under the pressures of life’s challenges if it is not built on a solid foundation of hard work, mutual respect and honesty.
Awareness of the issues, discussion and a genuine willingness to find an answer will lead to their own solutions. It may not be the solution that one came into it expecting but that’s also good, for then it was arrived at without forcing a pre-set position. The only rule is that it be handled in such a way as to find that win-win resolution for everyone involved.
The fact is…it is not easy for anyone to solve but the rewards of a job well done will lead to a life well blessed.
‘Birthplace of the Sun’ subtly explores the social impact of increasingly powerful women and the constant updating of gender roles. Gone is the need for chest beating alfa males, except in certain scenarios such as protecting loved ones from marauding spiders and hijackers. There can be no doubt that the traditional role of men has been challenged, as they are no longer the sole breadwinner and thus undisputed ruler of the family group.
Globally, men face the challenge of their updated role in society without any real reference, as their roles are so radically different from those of previous generations and the majority of their role models. South African men are only now truly beginning this journey, and at a much accelerated pace.
Thanks to B-BBEE, South African women are now being offered jobs that their men are not and this is dramatically hastening their role evolution. Imagine the shock to the psyche of a man whose general society is still mostly incredibly patriarchal in nature but who now has to deal with a woman demanding equal consideration. Whilst legislation has ensured women are empowered, it has neither fully considered the impact this has on their personal relationships and their role in a still mostly traditional society; nor has it offered methods of resolving conflicts that will result from it, and, it has also not encouraged the difficult conversations around resolving it either.
This, if not specifically addressed by each individual couple, may lead to undesirable scenarios, such as:
Domestic conflict and violence, as men try to regain control of what was lost;
Discontent and divorce, as partners give up trying to find solutions;
Feelings of no longer being valued leading to inferiority concerns;
Increased substance abuse and eating disorders to seek comfort elsewhere; and,
Even the search for various fantasy, pseudo or actual escapes as individuals go into denial.
All have become very real problems, and though, I’m not suggesting that this issue is the sole cause…it should, at least, be considered a large contributing factor.
Both sexes need to come together to find optimal ways of working and living together, which respects both their uniquely individual needs. There is a huge need to have support and discussion mechanisms in place where couples can explore the issues in a safe space.
‘Birthplace of the Sun’ was always going to be more than a romantic adventure, which sought to raise awareness of its central location ‘Inzalo Y’langa’. It was also to become a platform from which to raise important social issues…To sound the warning bell that modern relationships are doomed, unless both parties are prepared to have the difficult conversations.
Of particular importance is the new role of women in society and its impact on all role players, unless addressed in a sensible manner. It is hoped that this work will encourage debate and discussion, both within society and between individual couples, to find a newly workable and comfortable solution to better address the issue.
The ‘Birthplace of the Sun’ novel had to incorporate the story of the Zama Zama, as it is so central to its core theme: Gold.
It highlights their plight and blight in the hopes of obtaining regulation over an industry gone rogue both for the sake of the miners, and the mining industry, but also for those who suffer because of its lawless environment.
The research not only shows the dangers illegal miners deal with daily but also the dangers they result in.
In February, this year, more than 100 legal miners had to be rescued from a mineshaft collapse at the Makonjwaan Gold Mine, and 3 people are still considered missing. The disaster sparked an outcry from AMCU and was widely reported in the press.
Illegal mining is mostly done by undocumented foreigners who are desperate for work. In a country that already has more than 50% of its own youth unemployed, foreigners are usually the last to find formal work and to be protected under the law.
A business owner who wished to create a tourist attraction near Gold Reef City was invaded by illegal miners intent upon driving him from his gold rich land. They slaughtered his prize horses, poisoned his dogs, burned his home to the ground and ran him off his land, so that their illegal activities could continue unhindered. What remained had been looted and could not be visited without strong police protection. But the Police could not remain there 24/7.
Being burned or buried alive by rival gang members.
Dying of smoke inhalation or being burned alive. Setting fires underground to cook meals and burn the extracted soil, so that the mercury mixes better with the gold, can easily spark underground fires, if a natural gas pocket is struck unwittingly.
Dying of diesel fume inhalation. Some use diesel generators for lighting and so on, without extraction fans.
Being buried alive from collapsed tunnels, entrances or any number of other dangers.
Being robbed of their haul: in their own tunnels, as they climb out their shafts, or on the way to the gold buyer.
The South African Civil Society Information Service noted in their article: ‘Illegal Gold Mining in South Africa: The Deafening Silence on the Lives and Deaths of the Zama Zama Miners‘ that at the 2013 congress…the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) realized that, ‘… alongside fighting for decent work for already formally and informally organised workers, entrepreneurial workers who live in the shadows of formality in precarious jobs need to be recognised and organised if a better future is to be realised for all.’
Whilst it is recognized that this is a very convoluted issue with highly irregular and fractured players, which would make an easy fix difficult under any stretch of the imagination, it is hoped that the focus will spur a desire for some beginning to its resolution.
‘Birthplace of the Sun’ gives a very simplistic answer to this very complex problem – a hope almost…to spur action…to get it resolved for the sake of all involved.
Am I being naive to think that with the will anything can be resolved?
The novel ‘Birthplace of the sun’ is as interwoven in gold, as is the land upon which it is located.
Heroin, Angela Bosch, must find: a headpiece of gold, with its peridot stone drop, and a golden sphere if she is to escape the hate-filled, ghostly birth mothers who seek her destruction. The fact that it is made of gold is highly significant and is explored in this piece.
Remember my mentioning, in An incredible location, that the novel was based in and around the Adams Calendar (Inzalo Y’langa), in Mpumalanga?
Well, 50km from the Calendar is the town of Barberton, whose mountains are amongst the oldest in the world, dating back 3.5 billion years. Their volcanic rocks, know as the Barberton Greenstone Belt, hold the first forms of life on earth – a bacterial micro fossil (Archaeosphaeroides barbertonensis).
It is also a few hundred kilometers from the ‘Cradle of humankind’, where new ancient human skeletons are constantly being discovered. The latest of which is the discovery, classified by Dr Lee Berger in 2013, of the mystifying Homo Naledi.
Well, besides the fact that the area is literally littered with old mine shaft markers…
Gold also has many spiritual, energetic and inherent qualities, which tied perfectly into the story.
Gold’s vibration is connected with the sun and legend states that gold is ruled by the sun.
Making it perfect for ‘the Birthplace of the Sun’, which is located in ‘The place where the sun rises’ (the province of Mpumalanga).
Considered the bringer of wealth, happiness and comfort, as well as being a mineral of spirituality, magic and understanding. It actually generates and transforms negative energy, it prevents spiritual corrosion, and it adds to the realm of complete understanding as it clears away negativity. It emits an energy which prompts one to allow beauty to come forth from ones inner core. Used in purification and balancing the heart chakra, it also opens the third eye and crown chakra’s.
Angela had to connect to God in order to remember her ancient past, and
She also needed to ward off the evil ghosts of the other Birth Mother of Earth, with what some may call magic.
Angela needed the wisdom of the gold to fairly and justly determine who was to be healed, and
The golden sphere, she had to find and deliver, was to impart wisdom to the Presidency of the country.
It is said to assist one in tuning-in to nature and its healing forces, and has been called ‘the master healer’.
Angela had always been strongly connected to nature, and
She would use that to heal a nation and continent.
It eases those overburdened by responsibility, depression, inferiority. It calms anger, even as it alleviates stress and amplifies positive feelings.
She had to stop the birth mothers and save the country, whilst healing the planet, and if she did not succeed she’d not find her Great Love. It was a frightfully daunting task for one who did not know what was to be done to achieve it, at first, and she naturally had doubts as to her ability to succeed.
Angela would use it to survive and reenergize after months of lack of sleep from the nightly hauntings of the birthmothers.
It helped her accept that she had great power and influence, in order to overcome her natural feelings of insecurity given the monumental task she had to perform.
It aided her in coming into her true power and being comfortable with who she was changing into.
It is also a thought amplification aid with projective qualities onto other minerals and crystals, especially topaz, rubies, orange zircon and peridot. Setting these in gold increases and enhances their power turning them into powerful amulets.
As her headpiece was partnered with Peridot, she’d use its thought amplification for protection from the Birth Mothers who sought to kill her and her guardians.
She’d also use it to save the life of her beloved.
Favoured in wedding bands, it is associated with love and faithfulness.
This aspect was the perfect fit for her journey to her Great Love.
Interesting facts about gold:
Availability of gold
Gold was discovered in copper ores in the earths crust, around 3 000BC and around 75 000 tons of gold had been extracted up to 2002. Gold is being depleted and it now takes a lot more energy to extract the smaller quantities available:
Late 1800’s one could extract 25-30 grams of gold per ton
In 2012 we were down to just 1.22 grams of gold per ton
Just between 2005 and 2012 gold production dropped by 27%
And between 2011 and 2012 it dropped by 6% alone.
Found in South Africa, Russia, Australia and the USA.
Its atomic structure has six energy levels: 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 1. Its atomic number is 79, having 79 protons and 118 neutrons, and it has a melting point of 1064.43 degrees Celsius.
It is considered a transition metal with a cubic crystalline structure.
Its metallic bonds form non-directionally. It is different from silver and gets its colour from its strong bond of positivity charged metal atoms in fixed positions surrounded by delocalized / scattered electrons. Free electrons means that they can move in the presence of an electric field, thus permitting energy bands to overlap.
Silver, gold and copper have similar electron configurations. The different colours are the result of gold and copper having low reflectivity at short wavelengths, so that the red and yellow are preferentially reflected, whilst silver has a good reflectivity that does not vary with wavelengths and so its colour is close to white.
Gold mixed with copper becomes red-gold, if it is dissolved with silver it becomes green-gold, if it is blended with palladium and silver it becomes white-gold, and if it is added to indium or gallium it becomes blue-gold. Gold can also be coloured using surface oxide layers by adding base metals to create blue, brown and even black-gold.
Power generation using Gold
The UC Santa Barbara’s Department of chemistry, chemical engineering and materials has used gold in the generation of renewable power:
A ‘forest’ of gold nano rods were capped with a crystalline layer of titanium dioxide decorated with platinum nano particles set in water and a cobalt-based oxidation catalyst before being deposited onto the lower portion of a solar array.
During the reaction, the water bonds (hydrogen ions) to split causing holes which generate electricity.
Important to note is that these nano rods were not subject to photo corrosion like current technologies, and will thus outlast their current counterparts.
Nanoparticles can also colour glass…colloidal silver creates yellow, whilst gold produces a purple-red and silver gives glass a pink (modernly called nano shells). These concentrations can be thinned down to produce other colours for example golds purple colour will become greens and blues as the coating shell is thinned because the diameter of gold nano particles determines wavelengths absorbed and resultant colour.
“Jacques had taken up martial arts to protect himself and his mother. Sadly, as Hannalie recounted, she never permitted him to use it again after that first time. Though her husband had been keen on dishing out his discipline, he had been unable to deal with the pain himself. He’d whimpered about for days with the broken nose his son had inflicted, whilst saving his mother from another drunken beating. Hannalie had loved the man so much that she could not get it over her heart to permit her son to stop and possibly hurt him again. Jacques could not bear to stand by and watch her suffer needlessly, and so, respecting her wishes, he’d forced himself to leave.”
Angela may not have realized it but she needed a protector to help her battle: corrupt politicians and their lackeys; evil-ghostly Birth Mothers who sought her destruction; her own internal doubts; and even her very own sanity. She, like most of us, could not do it alone no matter how hard she tried to solely rely on her own fierce independence and inner strength. She needed a heroic protector – someone, who would be willing to take on her fight to protect her. He needed the chance, which his past had not afforded him, to truly protect a woman he loved. The fact that his mother had been unwilling to accept his protection had been very hard for him to accept, understand and survive. But, it had made him mentally stronger and more than willing to defend Angela against all that sought to destroy her. His past made him a natural protector of women and he was perfect to help her face all her demons.
But, besides needing a partner who would protect her, she also needed someone who was willing to have those difficult conversations and he proved he could go there.
What is a love anyway?
“‘What is a great love anyway and why should that be so different from what we have now or may have in future? I don’t even know what love really is, for I have never had a great role model in that department. If it is self-martyrdom at the expense of oneself, like my mother for my father, then I don’t want it. If it is cruelly beating or shouting at the one you supposedly love to make them too afraid to leave you, like my father, then I don’t want it either…
I want to learn everything there is to know about you, so that I can do everything in my power to make you happy. I want to find out what makes your heart beat with excitement and what takes your breath away, as I adore you. I want to protect you and what we have, for it makes me want to stand taller just because you are at my side…I want to hold deep discussions about life and everyday ones about the smaller things, for I greatly respect your opinion. I want to make everything all right and support you to fly as high as you can in this life. I want you and I want to be with you.’”
As ‘Birthplace of the sun’ has romance at its heart, it begged the question: ‘What is love and how should it be expressed?’
Exploring the concept further with reference to Jacques’ parents, Frankie and his Selloane, and, of course Jacques and Angela, it was clearly in the eye of the beholder. Love means different things to different people and every couple should explore this for themselves and its implication for their relationship.
The extract above is part of a difficult conversation between Jacques and Angela in which they come to their own unique view, as a couple, on what love is not, what it ought to be and what it could be. Everyone has their own view on love and on how it should be expressed, which is why it is a vital addition to any list of difficult conversations that couples need to explore together.
‘Birthplace of the sun’ leads couples in having open, honest explorations of difficult conversations on important topics for better, stronger relationships.
Having difficult conversations sets the foundation for real communication and for a real relationship. Too many of us reach the decision cross roads and take the easy route to stick to the superficial chats to keep the peace and not rock the boat. The thing is that, in so doing we rob ourselves of discovering more about ourselves, and our partners. We also rob ourselves both of the opportunity of having a truly meaningful relationship and of forcing ourselves to find out what it is that is truly bothering us. It becomes easier to just leave and move on to the next relationship and follow the same pattern rather than actually putting in the work. It becomes a convenient excuse to say, ‘Oh, we just did not work out.’ When, we should actually have said, ‘It was just too hard to figure out a way to make us work out.’
Having one honest conversation leads to trust in the future of that relationship but only if both parties are serious, open, transparent and wisely see it as the opportunity it truly is. It is an opportunity to create a stronger, lasting relationship. If you are not willing to have the difficult conversations with the person you are with then you should be urged to reevaluate your relationship and where it is going.
If you are willing to find a solution together then you will neither talk down to, nor over nor try to cleverly outwit the other person. You will instead really listen to understand with compassion and caring – and not just to respond. You’ll see its importance to the other person and that’ll make it important to you too. You’ll make the decision to work at your relationship because it is important to you.
How can one honest conversation lead to trust in the future?
To answer that, I’ll have to dig into your imagination – if you’ll forgive the intrusion.
Imagine you’re a woman (men may if you wish invert the sexes in this analogy) and you’re with an amazing man who’s perfect for you – on paper, at least. He’s handsome, witty, intelligent, sexy, confident, successful, loving and patient. But, he simply cannot bring himself to have a difficult, serious conversation and will in fact go to inordinate lengths to avoid it.
Will this not eventually lead you to naturally start to lose faith in your future together because he is unwilling to share anything real with you? Will you not begin to doubt your and your relationships importance to him because he’ll not go to that place within himself, or trust you enough to open up? He resists and keeps the real him at a distance and the harder you try to get in, the higher he builds the wall to protect himself. Finally, your relationship becomes stilted and no longer a beautiful thing.
The promise of a future together is lost because you did not have that one honest conversation. If he’d had the courage to go there once, you’d have trusted in each other to be able to overcome anything and your future would have been secured from that apparently small thing onwards. But it cannot be done alone…two must tango in every relationship…and it takes hard work.
How is just talking, hard work?
It is hard work because it involves taking a brave stand in being open to changing what you think, feel and even how you act. It can be painful when you realize that you are not always right and that you have been wronging someone you care for.
It is frightening to lay your innermost fears out on the table, exposed to the light of scrutiny and logic – some may even fear having their own fears used against them but if you don’t take that chance your relationship is doomed anyway. It can be even more frightening to go inside yourself to find out what your fears really are and to be willing to delve into that darkest of places within yourself. That place you normally do not visit because it is just too scary.
It takes wisdom and compassion to not laugh at or belittle others fears because you just don’t see them as being an issue at all. It takes respect to go there and respect to deal with it once it is all out in the open, and the giving of this respect results in a lasting trust and faith in one’s partner. This beautiful thing will reward your leap of faith with untold treasures.
Some of the difficult conversations every couple should have:
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The new role of women in relationships
Who will be responsible for what, where, when & how
What areas of daily life and responsibility requires joint agreement
Financial expense responsibilities (individually and jointly)
Support required from partner in specific areas
Pets and children – to have them / not, how they are to be cared for and by whom, etc.
What I require to feel loved, secure and needed
What is required from a partner, in case of a break up or death
Communication style, frequency, location (where is it best to broad a difficult subject – in restaurant / at home), etc.
What does love mean to you and how would you like it expressed and how would you like to express it
Living arrangements and environment
Holiday locations and frequency
Sexual and physical contact needs
Other likes and dislikes
FREE / ALONE TIME
Children – existing and prospective:
Education, expenses, discipline & rules of engagement, care if parents pass
Future goals, dreams and support required to get there
Where do you want to live
Retirement hopes and needs
AGING FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES
What that may be and how best to handle them
Support required from partner
FAMILY, WORK & FRIEND ENGAGEMENTS
Who will pay for what when going out together
How often with they be going out as a couple and how much will be alone time with friends.
Please add any other important issues that couples may need to address, in the comments below, and thank you for your contribution.
Yoga and art have helped me through many a challenging time.
In 2000, needing a change of direction (a reinvention, if you will) I arrived in Taiwan, in time for the very noisy Chinese New Year celebrations, to teach English.
The challenges were many: the culture shock; the struggle to get what was agreed in my employment contract; the incredibly long hours; the lack of sleep; and the nearly complete isolation.
For my first trip outside of South Africa (except for traveling to Zimbabwe with my parents, as a child), I chose to not only go to the other side of the world alone without support but I chose to go to a place that did not speak English. I have never shied away from challenges, and have sometimes even sought them out but this was taking it to a whole new level. My poor guardian angels were working overtime to keep me safe and sane.
The only help I had was a travel guide book and an English / Mandarin dictionary. My only communication with home for the first two months (until I found an internet cafe and discovered the joyous wonder of email for the first time) was letter writing, which took several weeks to get a reply on. This was even before mobile had become commonplace.
I was constantly tired from getting only 3-4 hours sleep a day, six days a week. Giving night classes at the school, I still had to travel to Taipei to attend classes in the required teaching methodology, before dashing back to Tsaotun (central Taiwan) to prep for the nights classes and then only walk back home at around 2 in the morning after marking and closing up.
It was just a few months after a 7.6 earthquake (known as the 921 quake – 21 September ’99) epi-centered just a few kilometers from Tsaotun, which killed more than 2400 people and injured 11000 more. The large cracks in the thickest of concrete structures were still vividly evident everywhere. The broken buildings, roads and windows revealed the power of nature, like I had never seen it before, and gave my first quake experience a new perspective as it taught me how to completely surrender.
Taiwan, in the midst of election preparations, was being constantly buzzed by Chinese fighter planes threatening against opposition to its reunification. Even as trucks, heavily ladened with enormous loudspeakers, where trawling up and down the streets at all hours of the day and night bombarding all and sundry with unintelligible election promises.
I rarely knew exactly what it was that I was eating, both because I was unable to read the menu’s but also because what was supposed to be ‘pork’ did not taste or look like any pork I’d eaten before. I discovered that I fortunately had a fairly strong constitution, for most visitors would become ill within the first week.
I regularly cried at the treatment of the poor animals and cringed at the things I saw in the markets, bewildered that they could even be considered food.
Being a good head and shoulders above every other resident, I tended to stand out and quickly realized that to try to blend in was a lost cause. I made peace with it, mostly ignoring the open stares and trying to not get upset at the blatant rudeness of it all. I was also the only white female in the town (the only others being: two Mormon missionaries and the headmistress’ fiancé), which added to my ‘oddity’ status.
During one bus journey, going to morning studies in Taipei, with such hectic humidity that the interior condensation literally ran down the inside walls of the bus and dripped off the ceiling, I had an uncomfortable experience. It was not the drips off the ceiling running through my hair, which made me uncomfortable, nor was it the incessant staring. This time, it was a couple of fellow passengers, a group of forward women. Pointing at me, they chatted amongst themselves, as they stared at me with expressionless, unreadable faces. This was nothing new but it all changed when they surrounded me. Pushing right into my personal space, they reached out to touch my face, arms and hair, as though to make sure that I was real. It was like something out of a horror movie at first, until I realized that they were simply curious – and that itself was curious.
Meditation kept me sane
Though challenging, Taiwan gave me such a great deal of learning and growth in return.
Living on the 11th floor (of the only building in town over four floors in height) I overlooked a mountain upon which stood a beautiful Taoist temple. On Sundays (my only day off) I would brave up and go exploring the town, especially appreciating the many temples and shrines on every street. Back at the apartment, I began to meditate whilst looking out over the temple, to reenergize myself for the coming week.
I found inner peace and calm, and so began my journey to yoga.
Back home, having found such benefit in meditation I took it further to learn yoga and It was a perfect and natural fit.
There is a saying that…when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
I was fortunate enough to find an Iyengar yoga instructor who became a mentor. When she later moved away our bond was halted. Though sad, it was also beautiful, as it kept the experience about the yoga and connection to the Creator and that personal journey, rather than becoming about a ‘guru’.
A yogic heroin
Yoga and meditation have allowed me to explore so many new and exciting revelations about my own mind, body, abilities and soul…that there could be no doubt that the heroin of ‘Birthplace of the sun’ would need to embody that.
She would need to access her ancient memories, seamlessly connect with the Creator (God) and be able to heal others. She’d have wisdom and faith to overcome the evil, hate-filled ghosts, which haunted and sought her destruction. She had to not only be a spiritual person but also a very strong woman, as she grew in her power to face her demons. And finally, she needed to be compassionate as one of the Birthmothers of Earth, to complete her mission and save her people…and that is what she became…
A personal perspective on the reason for preserving art and historically significant locations throughout the globe.
Egyptian Temples: moved, gifted and destroyed
I was always fascinated to hear my uncle recount his epic adventure drive up Africa, around Europe and on to Moscow, in the 60’s. How he struggled with wild animals, no roads or accurate maps, warring nations and a shortage of supplies for there were no corner cafe’s to plunder with what cash he had. Of particular interest were the grainy projected images flickering on the bed sheet hung against the basement garage wall, of Egypt’s temple marvels. I drowned in unspeakable sadness when he shared what would no doubt be their flooded fate once the Aswan High Dam was filled to capacity. Though interested, the rest of the group in attendance did not appear to share my appalled horror at their loss and that had always mystified me.
So imagine my joy at finding out that others had felt the same way and had actually saved many of them. These angels of history had gone to considerable time, effort and expense to delicately and dangerously dismantle the tons of beauty, saving them.
Twenty Two Nubian monuments, including the approximately 100 foot tall Abu Simbel Temples (right image: 1244 BC) were physically relocated to higher ground on the shores of Lake Nasser. Despite that, some like the Buhen Fort could still not be saved. A small number were even gifted to contributing nations, such as the Debod Temple in Madrid and another went to New York, which though not ideal and without a doubt highly controversial, at least assisted in their preservation.
Today the relocated temples (built by King Ramses II) are a major Egyptian tourist attraction, second only to the pyramids at Giza (4,575 years old), and have themselves repaid the costs of their recovery in the wonder of thousands of tourist dollars.
Udaipur sunken temple
Having long since buried my teenaged distress over the temples, it was a surprise when the emotions resurfaced after visiting the ‘Daughter and Mother in law’ temple (11th Century) located just outside Udaipur, in the north west of India. On the way there I was exhausted, from days of traffic and traveling to get to the six cities I’d visited in just two weeks. Leaving the driver behind, I walked tiredly down the hill noting a sign on the way, which revived me to an extent, for it resonated so strongly with me: ‘Sustain your heritage and feel glorious’. At a distance though it was obvious that despite being sustained, a number of the steeply carved, stone roofs had been unfortunately lost to the ages.
Walking around I first admired the amazing craftsmanship of their creators, etched onto every inch of their exteriors. The small (barely two meter wide) interiors did not disappoint either. I imagined I could actually feel the presence of the crafters living on through their creations. Looking up at the intricately carved ceilings made me a little nervous of entering some, for fear they may collapse due to their state of disrepair. But, that did not prevent my risking life and limb, as their intricate beauty drew me irresistibly in. Eventually having absorbed every corner and flattening my camera’s memory in the process, I’d seen them all. Unwilling to just leave, I walked down to the lower edge of the complex to gaze out over the lake. Standing beneath the beautifully carved stone archways, I took in the cleanliness and good repair of the grounds, and though sad that the monuments were showing their age, I appreciated the care that was obviously still taken of them.
Finally, dragging myself away I continued on my journey to a larger temple complex not far from there. Barely half a kilometer down the road, whilst passing a lake, something caught my eye resulting in a double take. The remains of a temple projected above the water to which it had obviously been sacrificed. Begging the driver to pull over I quickly took the lead photograph of this blog. I suddenly, and uncharacteristically, lost all desire to explore further that day, as I once more experienced the near pain of its destruction. Being so near the ‘Daughter and Mother in law’ temple, was a good indication that the art of the sacrificed temple was similarly glorious, and possibly originated from the same local craftsmen. But now…its Art and beauty were basically lost forever to the fish of the lake.
It had all been…about the Art!
The agony of it, which only fellow artists truly understand: The decades of thankless up-skilling; the many hours planning for perfection; the agony of self-doubt fearing your own shortcomings to execute that perfection; the physical pain, injury and suffering sacrificed to every craft (the often literal blood, sweat and tears); and the time forever lost to its creation. Finally, stepping back to really see and feel your contribution towards beautifying the ages, hoping it is enough to inspire others to experience it for themselves.
“I did not have to speak the language of the artist craftsman or even know their story to appreciate it…to feel it. Art is the ultimate divinity of expression…and destroying it was tantamount to sacrilege.”
The examples above could possibly be considered excusable, as they were lost in the hope of a better future. An entirely different matter is the willful destruction, and, or neglect of art and ancient sites of historical significance. It doesn’t matter if it is for reasons of: rebellion; or the enforcement of a different ideology; or war; or for a lack of focus on preservation – the result is the same…an inexcusable loss of something precious.
Artistic beauty is the expression of joy, a celebration, and desire for peace, for to create it requires turning the mind away from negativity towards hope.
Birthplace of the Sun
Taking that all back home to South Africa meant that there could be only one location for my novel (‘Birthplace of the sun‘) and that was the Adams calendar site, in Mpumalanga (Views on the age of the calendar include: the oldest man made structure on earth, and 250 000 years old. Stonehenge, in the UK, by comparison is 5,115 years old). It is hoped that increased awareness will ensure greater focus on its preservation, so that it may not one day be lost beneath a road, a development or another ploughed field. Though the calendar has been left mostly untouched thus far, the many thousands of stone circles in the area have not been as lucky, for many have been flattened and lost to progress. Those that remain have done so either by luck (due to their location not being easily accessible), or due to local farmer and landowner efforts to leave those on their lands undisturbed.
Think on the time it must have taken to determine the exact alignment of the stones to the solstices. Imagine the effort it took to locate and transport the large stones, to then work them into shapes and stand them upright. Wonder at the dangers its craftsmen faced, as they lived in a land that was still freely roamed by big 5 game, endangering their very lives. How important this must have been to them to take the time and focus out of their daily survival requirements just to create it. Sympathize with their artistic wounds that did not have a doctor or hospital to heal them and with no modern miracle medicines to prevent their infection. Feel the pained hands working such hard rock with only the most basic and primitive of tools, and yet they persisted. One has to admire the dedication required to create such a place and you have to feel it uplift your spirit in return.
We should all take action, in such struggles for retaining humanities artistic soul. It is an unspoken duty to history and to those who walked these lands before us – an honouring of a sort. An honouring of them, their efforts and hopes, as well as an honouring of our future generations need to still look upon and feel them for themselves.
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