A tribute tracklist to the end of undergrad (!)

I planned to write a full blog post about the wonderfully dizzying mess of feelings I’m experiencing right now (relief, pride, exhaustion, excitement… the list goes on). But my brain’s still a little fried from exams.

So, here’s a playlist instead.  Continue reading

Life advice for fellow humans

How many times have you seen a quote about seizing the opportunity, or living life without regrets? It’s come to the point where these sayings have little to no effect on us; the internet is littered with them, and they usually take the form of a syrupy sentence with the backdrop of a sunset. I tend to dismiss these hackneyed quotes of inspiration.

But today I cannot.

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To explore at daybreak


If we surrendered

to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Rainer Maria Rilke

All images taken at Makana Botanical Gardens [credit: Guinevere Shapiro]

Band of Skulls was on to something

I need love ’cause only love is true 
I need every waking hour with you 
And my friends ’cause they’re so beautiful 
Yeah, my friends they are so beautiful 
They’re my friends

Excuse the corny intro, but the lyrics to Band of Skulls’ Friends ring so true that I wanted you to see them. So today, in honour of World Mental Health Day 2017, let’s talk about the value — nay, the necessity — of having a supportive group of friends at university.

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A shift towards mindfulness

Mindfulness*, as Dan Harris puts it, is the ability to know what’s happening in your head at any given moment without getting carried away by it.

My mind is in a bad space, for a number of reasons:

  • the ever-looming shadow of exams
  • the rising temperatures
  • the clothes, ridden, dishevelled distaster that is my room
  • the fucking underestimated strength of my depression

If there ever was a perfect time to return to the practice of mindfulness, it is now. Continue reading

For the love of hiking

It’s a weekend morning, probably a Sunday. I’m with my mother and my sister. I’m about seven years old, and we’re going for a walk up Lion’s Head. I complain incessantly, my exhaustion turning into grumpiness very quickly. I want my mother to carry me but I’m obviously too old for that. My sister and I whine. I plop down onto a rock, arms folded across my chest, glaring at the flora and fauna. Somehow my mother refrains from throwing us off the mountain. As I remember, we don’t make it to the top.

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We’re in Nature’s Valley, the place I love the most. It could be any year, from 2002 to 2013. We’ve camped there every December holiday since I was tiny. We leave the campsite and drive to the trail that leads to Salt River. The trail begins not far from the beach. We enter a dark forest, which quickly muffles the sound of the tourist-filled stress that we’ve left behind. The trees are gnarled; they curl and twist along the path, and the thick green leaves overhead protect us from the sun.

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[Image: sourced]

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Keeping count: secret complexities of a monolingual

On my relationship with English, my mother tongue, in South Africa.

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I have always loved to count. When I was little, I counted my steps. At age ten, I counted the lamp posts on the drive to school, or cars that sped past. Around age twelve, I began counting letters and syllables in groups of seven. I loved the rhythm of a count of seven; it sounded self-assured, complete. Simultaneously, my eyes spied out seven-letter words, which I’d then tap out onto my lap as if typing on a keyboard.

In retrospect, this behaviour was compulsive, and it certainly slackened the pace of my reading. Often, I was so engrossed in counting and listening to the words in my head that I missed what they were trying to tell me, but I learnt to appreciate words in a new way. I valued the sounds – the taps and hums and ticks – of the English language. I still search for seven-letter words in books, sprayed onto walls, carved into desks. There is solace in these sevens; my mind tenses and then relaxes with each search and discovery. It is a comfort, just as it is a comfort to speak in the language that one knows and loves the most. Continue reading