Communique from Camp ‘Wounded Knee’

Simon's Town Waterfront warf.
Simon’s Town Waterfront warf.

I woke up this morning to an ominously heavy,saucer-shaped cloud over False Bay. At the far edge the pale blue of a dawn sky and wispy cloud silhouetted the Hottentot-Holland mountains across the bay. The details on the slopes were shrouded in a faint haze but the dunes of the shoreline were more sharply etched and the symmetrical outline of Seal Island was clearly visible. Amazing to think that on this peaceful morning the daily drama of life and death between the seals and sharks was being played out in the invisible surf of that island. I watched as the occasional car window along Baden-Powell Drive blinked golden in the dawn light. Birds, singly or in pairs or even occasional ragged flocks, streaked by engaged in their mysterious avian errands. It felt good.

It is now 7 weeks after my injury, six weeks after surgical repair and 3 weeks after my previous blog, “Silver Linings“. The knee is coming on just fine for this type of injury. It simply takes time for tendon healing and re-attachment but, so far, it has gone according to plan.Given safe passage through the potential early complications, like deep vein thrombosis, infection and other nasties, the worst period is probably over. As one improves the biggest danger becomes over-confidence and the biggest challenge is safe re-mobilisation and knee flexion – which is now limited to about 75 degrees. Way to go.

But silver linings continue. I finished the Secret History of the Human Race by Christine Kenneally confirming my initial diagnosis, “excellent”. The field of genealogy, along with molecular biology and computer modelling, continues to evolve at a frantic pace so the story is still in the making. But for some sense of what it’s about and where it may take us, Keneally’s book is a thoughtful and often poignant introduction.

My next book by Noah Yuval Harari was equally interesting and even more ambitious. Entitled “Sapiens: a brief history of Humankind” it takes us from the deep past of our prehistoric origins right into our near future where humans have become Gods. Flawed and potentially dangerous “Gods”, but God-like in our ability to interfere and direct the deep processes of our natural world and even to consciously shape our own evolution. Given the fact that our brains are primarily adapted to the social and physical realities of a hunter-gatherer existence, our new powers carry with them enormous dangers.

Those dangers are being played out daily in front of our eyes and we only now really entering the tunnel. We don’t even know how long and dangerous the tunnel will be and our concerns are heightened by the twin realisations that there is no going back and that we ourselves are the tunnel through which we are compelled to pass. Will we bring our world crashing down on our heads or will we emerge into a human-based Eden of our own making? Even to ask the question is frightening and depressing.

As an antidote I can recommend one book especially “The Heart and the Fist” by Eric Greitens. It is a remarkable story of self-actualisation and achievement by an amazing individual. The truth is that few of us indeed have the exceptional qualities of intuition, moral and physical courage and intelligence of the author. But I am continually impressed by the courage and innate intelligence of so-called “ordinary people”. If we can find a way of not succumbing to counsels of despair, fear and hatred while remaining real and honest, we can continue to finesse the challenges our Universe throws in our path. Read (or listen on Audible to) Greitens for the way he has done it.

This morning Sheila and I spent a peaceful hour or so having coffee on Simon’s Town waterfront. IMG_0067The coffeeshop was no great shakes but its position was marvellous. The photos in this post were taken with a horrible little point-and-shoot technological marvel of a camera. Ugh!

But I hope the pics are bearable.

Mike

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