Nostalgie se Voetspoor

Sedert ek kan onthou was ek aangetrokke tot nostalgie en die soms geborge misterie van die verlede wat eers veel later ontdek word.

Ek verkyk my na wanneer vriende mekaar na 40 jaar vind en sien hoe hul in hul gedagtes dadelik terugflits na jare van mini-rokkies, geblomde klokkende hippiebroeke, beblomde hare en tone. Hul word meegesleur na herinneringe van natgereënde lywe in volgepropte skoolbusse, sweterige skaam jong lywe na 'n sportsessie in die verkleekamers - sommige geseën met kurwes en bultende borste wat hul steeds soms verstom na die spieëlbeeld laat staar. Ander onthou hoe hul in hul skaamgeid hulself toedraai om onontwikkelde onbedeeldheid te verbloem.

(Hier's sommer net 'n liedjie om na te luister terwyl jy verder lees - Droomvrou van Lucas Maree)


Ek verkyk my hoe nostalgie toelaat dat verspottigheid styf langs jou lyf kom sit - hoe jy vir 'n tydjie vergeet van jou probleme, vergeet van die ekonomie, vergeet van die siekte wat in jou lyf kom nesskop het en vergeet van die hartseer van verlede jaar. 

Ek verkyk my hoe jarelange se sinnelose hardvogtigheid verdwyn
en plekmaak vir deernis in die kreukels van jou oë.

Ek hoor begrip in die sagte woorde wat oor jou lippe drentel.

Dit is so dat wanneer ou skoolpelle mekaar sien, hul ook onderwysers (en hul invloed) onthou, uitrafel, besing of besnou.

Verlede jaar was ek bevoorreg om 'n byeenkoms te reël met so 'n oud-onderwyser. Tot my spyt was hy nie my onderwyser nie, maar na aanleiding van 'n nostalgiese Facebookblad wat ek bestuur, die byeenkoms vir oud-studente gereël wat hom met lof besing.  

Ek deel graag 'n brief wat hy na afloop van die byeenkoms vir my geskryf het - 'n brief van nederige waardering.

"Dear Karin,

This is just to thank you for organizing yesterday's function. 

It is quite something to be held to account 40 years after the event.  More than anything it is a salutary reminder of how little we are aware  of our impact on those around us. This is, ironically, especially true  of teachers and teaching. I say ironically because of all the  professions it is the one in which there is the most sustained contact  and potential influence on other peoples' lives. Imagine, a captive  audience for a whole year. One that must do your bidding at every turn.  One on which you can experiment with every crack-pot idea you may be  flirting with. One on whom you can turn your bad moods, sarcasm and  pathetic attempts at wit without having to worry about the reception  they will receive. One that is an endless source of nourishment for your  ego. 

And then there are all the unintended, unimagined consequences, mostly  unrealized until years later. Yesterday was a humbling experience from  that point of view. Humbling is a word much abused today. Sportsmen are  continually humbled by their success; politicians by their support from  voters; movie celebs and pop-stars by their audiences. I don't mean that  sort of humbug. Many of the stories I heard yesterday were of  extraordinary courage, determination and integrity and sadness and  success in the face of which life and luck challenge existence; ordinary  lives lived by ordinary people and in the living made extraordinary,  heroic. 

T S Eliot said on one occasion: 'The only wisdom we can hope to acquire  is the wisdom of humility, humility is endless.' There is no doubt that  teachers have an enormous impact on the children they teach. The sadness  is that most often they are unaware of the nature of that impact.  Because of the nature of the world we live in with its emphasis on  tangible results and the commodification of the intangible, teachers  most often don't realize that their chief influence is not in getting  people through exams and all the formal stuff in the curriculum, but is  at the non-formal, unquantifiable, unimagined, unrealized level where  values and attitudes are laid down. It is here that lives are formed,  not in passing or failing a particular exam. And, it is for that reason  that teachers should tread softly, for they tread on dreams, bore or  inspire. Unfortunately, it is in the nature of existence that we are  aware and unaware, but mostly unaware. We truly do see through a glass  darkly. 

To be told that I had a positive influence 40 years ago on how those  lives have been lived is daunting. I can't think of a greater  responsibility. Forty odd years ago I was ill equipped to give anyone  advice about anything, except perhaps, how to construct a well formed  sentence; not that I'm much better equipped today. Experience is no  guarantee of wisdom. As for crap detecting, I was pretty well incapable  of detecting my own. I was dealing with many of my own demons. Like all  demons they are never fast asleep; and I fear they made life more  complicated than was necessary. But there's no point to bemoaning the  past. We are what we are. We are our choices, as I said yesterday, and  we can't avoid responsibility for them. My luck has been that there are  20 people who remember me with affection for the impact I had on their  lives when they were most vulnerable and least aware of the implications  as I was groping towards trying to make some meaning of my own. All of  us blundering around in the dark. 

We all need affirmation, even if it is only to be remembered briefly, if  we are not make any sense of our lives. Whatever the sense it is always  partial, always partially understood, partially apprehended. Life goes  on. 

I started this simply as a note to thank you for your hospitality and  trouble yesterday, and it has turned into a monologue as I turn over my  reactions and thoughts and feelings and memories. I apologize. I'll stop  now. 

Thank you 



Michael Rice

Om te ontdek dat jy 40 jaar gelede 'n blywende indruk gelaat het op iemand, is 'n stille herinnering  hoe ons onbewustelik 'n impak laat op ons lewenspaadjie.

Mag jou voetstap vandag lig wees
en jou glimlag breed
mag jy iemand hê vir wie jy 'n blom kan pluk,
iemand om teen jou hart vas te druk,
iemand wie 40 jaar later - 
vandag sal onthou.


  1. So mooi geskryf...en veertig jaar voel dikwels nes een dag!

  2. Dankie Elizabeth - so waar, dis in 'n oogwink verby.


Los vir my 'n griffeltjie .. ek's mal oor briefies ;)

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