It was a cold, overcast Thursday afternoon in Cape Town. I had just jumped off the train from town and was walking home, when I came across these two men, who, for some reason made me feel extremely uncomfortable, I couldn’t explain it, I couldn’t point it out but I could certainly feel it. But weird inexplicable feelings aside, I minded my own business and continued to walk towards my apartment and they walked passed me as they continued in their direction.
Then I thought to myself, “gosh Ben why are you so weary of them, are these your unconscious stereotypes coming up to the surface, I mean just because they are black, doesn’t mean they are going to rob you”. And at this moment something instantly told me to turn around and I did so without questioning it, and as I turned back I saw that these two men were now walking stealthily towards me, which naturally made me panic.
They then began to say something to me in Xhosa, which I didn’t fully understand but it was along the lines of “don’t worry brother, why are you scared”. And I was like nah fam, I’ve watched Tsotsi, I’ve experienced a house break-in, I’ve been mugged and I’ve been pickpocketed on Long Street as well, fool me once shame on you, fool me for the 4th consecutive time, shame on me. So I placed my dignity and swag aside and I ran towards the gate of my complex. I entered the gate, rushed up the stairs and dashed towards my third-floor apartment. Before I entered my door I decided to look down below and watch these two men, who were still on that same street where I met them. As I watched them I thought to myself that maybe they didn’t have bad intentions, after all, I mean – maybe they wanted to ask me for directions or a cup of sugar or something. I continued looking at them, and they then proceeded to break into one of the cars parked on the side of the street (keep in mind that it is still like 16:00 in the afternoon). Fortunately, the car alarm went off and they made a run for it.
If I had not trusted myself enough to look back when I felt the need to look back, they would have possibly injured me, taken my laptop bag, my phone, my wallet and maybe even cut off one of my dreadlocks, just to spite me.
Moses and the burning bush
This experience reminded me of the story in the Bible where Moses talks to a burning bush (whether or not Moses was of a sober state of mind while he was talking to said bush, is definitely debatable – but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt). And while this story has its own deep significance, purpose and meaning, I strongly believe that it misleads us into thinking that our interaction with God/Source/Spirit (whatever name you choose to use) needs to be some sort of majestic occurrence, where the sky opens up and trumpets sound while the Lord Almighty comes forth and details His sacred message to you. While this may all sound great and fantastic, it is really not like that in real life. I have come to realize that there are signs and messages all around you, that are trying to get your attention on a daily basis.
The bush stays burning, all day every day
For the longest of times, I have been trying very hard to figure out what the overall meaning of my life is and what I should spend my time on Earth doing. I have written extensively about my ongoing existential crisis in a number of previous blog posts and what I have come to realize is that the signs are all around me.
There have always been thoughts in my head, people in my life and situations that I have found myself in on a daily basis that have attempted to gently guide me in certain directions – but because I did not consider these occurrences as a burning bush experience (BBE?), I continued to doubt my own thoughts and feelings.
We are taught from an early age that God/Source/Spirit (again, whatever name you choose to use) is something that is separate and external from us and that we need to do certain things and behave in a certain way to get access to it. When the truth of the matter is that all of the direction, guidance and knowledge is within you and all around you. You just need to pay attention, be silent, and listen to your own intuition.
These are some of the reasons why we continually seek explicit answers from things and people outside of ourselves:
- It serves as some sort of external validation that we can’t get from ourselves.
- We just don’t trust ourselves enough.
But if you just give your own mind and heart the respect and responsibility that they deserve, you will be able to seamlessly manoeuvre through the many challenges of life that you face on a daily basis.
“Listen to yourself and in that quietude, you might hear the voice of God.” – Maya Angelou
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs