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Plant had that video for Addicted To Love, with the gorgeous women in black outfits and severe buns. “You’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to love!”
Like I say, it was a while ago, in my distant youth.
Today, dealing with the fact of my own oldness forms part of the matrix of stresses I have to navigate in this project called my life. It is a challenge shared by millions of my countrymen and women.
We get old, and it stresses us out. But that’s hardly the full extent of it. I have a pile of issues to stress about – and there is nothing special about me.
According to a Bloomberg Business survey earlier this year, South Africa is the second most stressed country in the world. We’re are all stressing our asses off!
We stress about family dynamics, about finances, about work, about safety, about the governance of our runaway train of a country…
These individual stresses of ours overlap with the respective stress factors of our fellow South Africans like piles of Venn diagrams that eventually start to resemble Tibetan mandalas of kaleidoscopic pressure vectors.
Boy, we stress. Some days, the thing I’m most curious about is whether my end will come via heart attack, brain embolism or jail for punching someone unreasonably. Somehow, the end doesn’t come, and I earn the right to do it all again the next day.
Like I say, there’s nothing special about me – I’m just another citizen of South Africa, global runners-up in the stressing-your-ass-off Olympics.
I could not presume to understand the stresses someone else is under. But I can control my responses to my own. It’s best not to allow my stresses to affect the people around me. I may be about to have a brain embolism, but at least let me not punch my colleague for sending a two-word brief!
This speaks to morale. Morale is a slightly outdated concept, with overtones of military fortitude and how to get thousands of Frenchmen to invade Russia during 1812. But morale remains relevant.
We are fighting a battle, each one of us. We go to war daily in a campaign of survival. Make no mistake, we are perilously poised in a precarious fight to stay alive. Every day, we wake up and continue the march on the Moscow in our minds. Morale is all we have to keep us going.
We need to keep the mood up. To keep our heads above water. As we each battle a litany of daily stresses, let’s support each other as best we can, in word and in deed. Let’s maintain morale.
We live in an imperfect place, riven with the myriad pressures of survival. Bloomberg says only Nigeria is more stressful! We can only reach our destination if we march together, build solidarity in the face of our obstacles and get ourselves through it.
Unity, not division, is what’s going to get us there. That’s why bright spots like South Africa’s World Cup rugby victory are so vital. They don’t solve any of our national problems. They don’t remove debt, miraculously rebalance inequality, create jobs or correct centuries of structural racism. But winning the World Cup builds morale. It raises our spirits and gives us the energy and motivation we need to try to correct those issues.
On the personal front, better morale makes us better able to face our own problems. Like being an ageing smoothie who needs better briefs from his colleagues. That little burst of World Cup morale is going to get me through that.
We’re all going to get through this. We’re going to get to the metaphorical Moscow we’re marching towards, and we’re going to get back to Paris in one piece too, like the French army of 1812. The City of Love! Like modern Napoleons in the war on anxiety.
Thanks to morale. Chin up guys, let’s march!
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