Re-establishing the balance

It has been some time since I have done a posting. It’s not that I have been lazy or haven’t had any ideas to write about. I just have not had the desire to write.

My usual creative time (creative pattern) was consumed by a powerful group energy. As South Africans, we have all come through an amazing sporting experience in hosting the 2010 soccer World Cup. Events of such global magnitude and with such a prolonged, ongoing emotional hype can be disruptive to the usual everyday routines and patterns that make up one’s life. So sitting still and doing some ‘reflective writing’ did not fit with the predominant energy that existed in our country over the past month or so.

Living through the soccer world cup experience felt like being out of town on holiday, while still living in town. It was a pleasurable emotional overload that swept you off your feet. Having my two sons, who live abroad, return to South Africa to share in the experience first hand, also added to the overall excitement and joy. There was always a bubbly energy that permeated through the walls of every office and home as the anticipatory excitement built up as each of the 64 matches played themselves out to become a reality. In the early weeks of the tournament, there were three such events every day. Every match had its own unique story and drama that unfolded.

Last week my wife and I had supper with friends. Our conversation centered around our experiences of the soccer world cup as we recalled and shared our unique moments. What joy! Our friends had been to 9 matches, while we had been to four. Going to a match was a full day affair, and recovering from it took another day. And this was not because of excessive drinking and partying!

Usually, I do not like going to major sporting events. I have turned down many invitations to watch sporting teams that I have worked with since (a) the process of making my way to the stadium in heavy traffic, (b) struggling to find parking, (c) dealing with the hustle and bustle of crowds and then (d) having to endure the constant distracting public comments of those seated around you, far outweighs any benefit that I may have in enjoying watching the match live. So usually I sit at home and watch the match unfold on television. I also switch off the commentary, especially if the commentators do nothing more than tell you the name of the player who has got the ball or always talk ‘obvious talk’. Obvious talk is cliché talk and it never adds value and insight into the unfolding process of the match.

So going to watch 4 soccer matches over a three week period was unusual for me. But this change in my norm was activated by the unified, participative energy of all South Africans as we galvanized and aligned ourselves to the event. I found myself enjoying the vuvuzelas, the ‘Waka Waka’ by Shakira and our beautiful mascot Zakumi walking around the field waving to us. Interestingly, it is not the actual on-the-field matches that are now etched in my mind, but rather all of the off-the-field interpersonal dynamics that had occurred as I journeyed to the match with loved ones, culminating in the final walk as we entered the beautiful stadium. Being joined by hundreds of foreign supporters added to the special vibe.

Zakumi has a special place in our lounge

Ordinary everyday life can feel a little empty; as if something is missing once the ‘shouting has stopped’, or the vuvuzelas have been laid to rest. I remember reading an article on the difficulty that many elite athletes have in adjusting to the quiet life after they have retired and are no longer in the public and media spotlight. The difficulty in coping with the major change in life-style can manifest in substance abuse, marital issues and financial difficulties.

I have now re-established my usual routines and patterns. My exercise patterns are back on track and I feel that I have order back in my life. I feel more settled and focused and again feel that I have the necessary quiet time to access the creative part of me that was put on hold while I fully engaged in the remarkable South African energy of the soccer world cup.


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