I was about six, maybe five, at the backline of the surf at the Strand.
My uncle, whom I’d followed out to sea, turned to me, treading water, and said: “You’re about to experience the second-best sport there is.
I asked: “So what’s the best?”
And, with that, he taught me how to bodysurf.
Head down, body taut, belly concave, arm into the barrel, across the face, then straighten out and ride the roar of the whitewater to the beach.
My uncle taught me not only what he knew, intimately, expertly.
The power of the lesson, was his teaching me what he loved.
I remember thinking: my uncle sure loves the sea, adores the waves.
Not only from what he says, but from the way he speaks, from the way I see he caresses the ocean as he paddles his surfboard, from his intimate understanding of the ebb and flow of the rips and the tides.
Show, don’t tell.
I remembered that first lesson this past week, after a fortnight’s leave, charging around the country.
On a “Father-and-Son’s getaway” into the foothills of Lesotho.
On an under-14 girls’ provincial hockey championship tournament in the Free State. On a family cruise into the Klein Karoo. A few days’ break on the Garden Route.
The trips reminded me of what I truly love.
Because you can travel where you like, spend what you can, go where it beckons, but there’s no guarantee that what you find will fill your heart.
Unless you authentically know what it is, that you love.
Like an afternoon in Prince Albert:
Scaling the Swartberg Pass with your son. Plunging your face into the icy stream dancing down the majestic gorge.
Watching him pull away ahead, the next generation taking the lead.
Our pace, rollicking down the winding pass, back into the valley.
And then on a different bike, with a baby seat, with a two-year-old named Boo: meandering past century-old houses, pretty as peaches, rocking chairs on little stoeps, donkeys in the gardens, weaver birds squabbling in the reeds, the sun a rosy orange, as the shadows lengthened.
Two experiences, rolled into an afternoon of bliss in the Little Karoo.
Here’s a thought: What if…
What if the actualisation and realisation of our dreams is never going to happen – until we take the trouble to understand what we truly, fearsomely love?
And then to chase down those loves with complete purpose?
While barrelling around the country, I was cycling with my son one late afternoon/evening, when he said to me: “Dad. Right now, you’re doing five of the things you love most.
“Riding a bicycle. On a dirt road. Beneath some oak trees. At dusk. With me.”
Our adventures were stunning.
And every now and again, several things I love most, sang together in perfect harmony.