Archive for July, 2011

I know someone who lived as a bit of a vagabond for a while. As it seems to be with most of these sort of travellers, it is difficult to really get any answers from them, almost as if they drifted physically for so long that their minds are unable to stop, cease to drift, rest.

This guy is a missionary. He wears a faded brown leather jacket, dark jeans, comfortable worn shoes, an iconic middle-eastern looking scarf, and sometimes a dark hat, tipped over the glasses through which he’s observed the world drift past in all of its grit and dirt and grime.

This man has lived in the gutters and has conversed with emperors, prayed with prostitutes and waged wars with weapon wielding terrorists. He lived with the bag, now slung across his back as he talks to me, for long days, it’s only contents: a bible and a radio.

“It’s all you need you know… really, you don’t need all this stuff…” he says to me, as I muffle the sound of the R6000 touchscreen in my pocket notifying me of a social network newsfeed update.

He’s shifty, as if he’s conditioned such that he can’t stand still long enough for the cold that he left behind on those streets to enclose upon him.

Could I live like this? For all of my talk, could I actually leave my internet and my touchscreen, with its short, impractical battery life behind? My fridge with food readily available, my bed and heater, my bank card and an ATM always within reach? My car and my wardrobe? I’m not sure.

Even more than this, could I leave my ambitions for academic praise and intellectual glory? For the weathered life of the vagabond? Suddenly the opportunity to drop everything and follow a guy like this into the world avails itself to me and what do I say?

I don’t know.

Viktor Frankl talks about this in his groundbreaking work he developed in part during his time in the Nazi death camps. Logotherapy. I quote:

“In the Nazi concentration camps, one could have witnessed that those who knew that there was a task waiting for them to fulfill were most apt to survive … Thus it can be seen that mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become. Such a tension is inherent in the human being and therefore is indispensable to mental well-being. We should not, then, be hesitant about challenging man with a potential meaning for him to fulfill.”

I’d need to quote more to get the whole picture across, but basically, his realization was that we need some sort of dream or future to strive toward or hope for otherwise we lapse into what he calls the ‘existential vacuum’ from which depression follows. He emphasises that one must certainly not find a place of ‘equilibrium’ or ‘homeostasis’ but bigger and greater desires, contrary to a lot of popular psychology.


Today I began properly to begin to train and prepare for my busking project out in the streets of South Africa (Yes, I live in South Africa). I had this idea some time last year when I walked past a guy with a guitar on a dirty street corner outside a 24 hour McDonalds in the drunken suburb of Hatfield. I had been phasing from one hobby into another, swapping focus’ I suppose.

My studies are very demanding and only allow a limited amount of time for hobbies and such things, I had always regretted having given up on martial arts when I was younger because of a difficult time that I was going through (a story for another day) and with the help and encouragement of a good friend I finally found myself a dojo to train in. I went to watch one session of training (wearing jeans so that I wouldn’t feel pressured to join in just yet if they asked) and then joined the next week. Being the kind of person that I am (mildly and intermittently obsessive) I did a lot of research into which of the many martial arts I should do… I will post again on this story, with some of my fight journal entries, but suffice for now to say I chose kickboxing.

So after a year of intensive kickboxing training and gym to support it I decided that I was running out of time to do other things, my social life also struggled as I spent all of my time either at kickboxing, gym, studying or at church (church was just about my whole social life). So with this in mind I decided that the next year (this year – 2011) I would focus my attention on the other part of my character that I hold to be very important – music, but more than that – the playing of music. I would become a muso. The idea was also to have more time for friends and my spiritual life (which was slightly comatose). So I signed up for guitar lessons at the nearest, cheapest music school and began to invest more of my time into my church band (which I’ve played for for 4 years already – 2 as a drummer and 2 as an electric guitarist). This was when I walked through Hatfield and passed that guy on his guitar outside McDonalds. I’m not sure if I even tossed him a coin (much to my disgrace), but he inspired the spark of an idea in me and now, 6 months later, I am planning a busking road-trip down to Durban to try and make a few bucks, but more importantly – to prove to myself that life is worth living and that adventures are within grasp, one need only the right perspective.

The perspective of someone needing a purpose. The perspective of someone searching for beauty and meaning. The perspective of an adventurer. The perspective of a wanderer. The perspective of the spiritually vagabond.

Guitarius Playerius Outdoorius

Guitarius Playerius Outdoorius

So this little write is part one of my busking journal, part two will follow shortly…

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