Transitioning into the 2nd half of life

This year has kicked off with a flourish and I’ve been left with a few sensations of things that were brewing in my sub-conscious over the holidays (that I would have ordinarily reflected upon and processed while sitting on the beach, but alas, parenting requirements too precedence).

What has been lurking below the surface is best described as a feeling of loss regarding novelty. Let me give you an example. I love epic movies. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy  was a serious highlight for me during the years in which they were released. There is just something about the opening scens of an epic movie that move me! Movies just don’t move me like that anymore. The novelty of that experience has now become, well, bland. I’ve been drawn to Richard Rohr’s teachings on Adult Christianity where he teaches about the two stages of life and spirituality. I’ve now realised that feeling associated with a loss of novelty in life is actually a symptom of my transition into the second stage of my life.  Read the rest of this entry »

Fidelity with the truth

Sam took me to watch The Social Network on Wednesday night as a treat for my birthday (yes, going for a movie is a huge treat when you have a 7 month old baby). Having been vaguely aware of the roots of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg‘s student history at Harvard, I was keen to look into the story of Facebook a little deeper. I walked out of the movie house surprised. Zuckerberg waste caste as an ego-driven, conniving geek who screwed his closet friends in the pursuit of his ideas. It seemed pretty clear that Zuckerberg had stolen the idea on which Facebook is based from fellow students who had entrusted him with the concept. So, when I got home I started doing some research into the movie, the actual story of Facebook and Zuckerberg, and discovered that The Social Network is quite divergent from the truth.

When asked about the way the movie diverges from the ‘truth’, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has been candid about his objective: to tell a compelling story, rather than slavishly following facts. He is quoted as saying, “I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth; I want it to be to storytelling.”. He went on to say, “What is the big deal about accuracy purely for accuracy’s sake, and can we not have the true be the enemy of the good?” From a narrative perspective, these comments disturb me …

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There’s something about getting older that makes you more aware of your own mortality.

Yesterday saw the passing on of a family friend after a horrendous battle with cancer. Kathy Malan leaves behind a husband and 16-year old daughter.

In a few days time myself & many friends will remember the tragic death of Barry Marshall last year in September.

I’m deeply affected by these deaths. It’s as if the stakes in my life have increased in the last few years. Marriage and fatherhood have made my life more precious in a sense. There’s so much more to lose than when I was a care-free teenager.

South African rhetoric of the “challenge”

In South Africa it is taboo to refer to “problems”. This is especially true if you are a representative of government. “No, no, no Mr Interviewer … I would not say it is a problem. Rather we are faced with a challenge.”

People fear that they are in some way resigning themselves to the “un-solvability” of the problem if they utter the very word. Behind this fear lies a a fatalistic way of languaging the issue at hand. Instead, the rhetoric surrounding how we language a problem is pervaded by “challenges”. The other perspective on this rhetoric is that by admitting that an issue is a problem, you somehow admit some form of culpability in relation to the problem. And so, referring to a “challenge” displaces the responsibility for not having already solved the problem.


I’ve been thinking a little about archeology. While driving past one of Johannesburg’s biggest landfills I began to wonder if the archeologists of the future will find anything of interest in our modern day rubbish dumps? And if they do, what sense would they make of it and how they would theorize about how life worked in our day?

So much of what we think we know about our history as a race is based on the findings of archeology. But what is archeology, beyond just a few khaki-clad academics digging around in dirty pits?

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Moving from employment to self-employed

It’s been 5 years since I took the plunge into self-employment. At the time I was working for a small company in an HR capacity. I had been in full-time employment for 4 years then. As I reflect back over the last 5 years and how nervous I was about the plunge, I wonder about the value of 4 years of desk-bound servitude and how those years informed the way I would approach self-employment.

You see, I’m now in a position where I am employing people to become a part of my own company, The Narrative Lab, and that raises some unique concerns …

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The last will be first

Sam and I attended a Marriage Group last night with some good friends. It was the first of a series of evening’s and was started by Dean and Kirsty who have been married for two months – they are keen to invest in their marriage and to learn from other couples who are a little further along on the journey. The facilitation was simple. We sat in a circle and answered questions posed by Kirsty, with everyone getting a chance to answer. She alternated who would go first for each question.

On the way home Sam and I were talking about the evening. She commented that if you were sitting to Kirsty’s immediate left or right, you had an equal chance of either being either first to answer, or last to answer the question, depending on the direction of the answer flow. This got me wondering about what Jesus said to his disciples about the Kingdom of God …

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Nod-in: the nemesis of buy-in

Meetings. More meetings. Many more meetings. This is what many of us see when we take a glance out our diaries. It’s a daily drudge. The endless stream of back-to-back meetings is the bane of corporate existence. It’s a wonder we get any work done! It’s also not surprising that the new coping technique that most meeting attendees employee is called “nod-in”.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. Why? Because, if you had to be honest, you know that you employ the technique yourself …

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How frail is our patriotism?

Wow, the media has been a buzz with reactions to Bafana Bafana’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of the sturdy Uruguayans last night. Radio talk shows, Twitter, Facebook and casual conversations have been saturated with a range of sentiment towards the local team and the supporters. The biggest topic, besides the team’s lackluster performance, has the been the walk-out of thousands of fans at Loftus last night.

Sam and I were at the game. Thousands of spectators literally stood up and started to file out of the stadium immediately after the second Uruguayan goal was scored late in the second half. We stayed behind. As the third goal was scored, many more thousands of spectators got up to leave. Were they supporters, or just spectators? Also, when I look at the negative sentiment directed towards those people who left early, I wonder how frail our patriotism is in South Africa?

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Parody twitter accounts, anti-stories & synthesis

I’ve been watching with interest the proliferation of parody spoof Twiiter user accounts over the last while. These spoof accounts have been generated by witty anonymous users to take cheap shots at large, global organisations who are doings things worthy of critique. One of the best examples is the BP Global Public Relations account.

Of all the parody accounts created, the PR-type accounts are the most common and they represent really cynical, sardonic and incisive viewpoints on what big corporates are up to. Anther example is FIFAGlobalPR. One source describes the BPGlobalPR parody …

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