You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2008.

I love online poker! There are very few pleasures as perfect as slow playing a pair of pocket aces and then faking a bluff on the last bet, going all in, seeing a group of perfect strangers falling for your trap, and then watching them swear in a foreign language when they see what you have. It’s beautiful.

I even like the inter-cultural dynamic of online poker. It’s wonderful to talk to people from around the world about sports and music and other random things. I enjoy it. What I don’t enjoy is establishing myself at a table, making a few friends and then having a gentleman (usually from Turkey or the United Arab Emirates) join the table and monopolise the chat function with his inane flirting! Anything with a skirt gets chatted up, and because I share a facebook page with my wife, I get flirted with! Nasty, hairy middle-eastern men regularly buy me virtual cocktails and ask me what I’m wearing. The conversation usually goes something like this:

“Hey Baby. You are fine?”
“I’m fine thanks. I am a man”
“Thank you”
“?????”
“I am enjoy your photography”
“Really? I am enjoy my poker”
“Yes. You very good poker”
“Ummm…”
“I am good also”
“ok”
“Hey Baby.”
“I am a man”
“Thank you”
“?????”
“Baby. You so fine!”
“I AM A %$@!(%#! MAN!!!”
“Thank you”
“Twit.”
“Baby. Please let me see you facebook.”
“No. I have a penis. I have no breasts. I AM A MAN!”
“Thank you.”

At which point I usually leave the table in a huff. While in hindsight I can see that this might be amusing to an observer, it’s less funny when it happens to someone who is actually a woman. I therefore call on all facebook men to stand up at the poker table, and with one voice, and in no uncertain terms, tell the “Hey Baby” guys where they can put their keyboards. Enough is enough!

Over the last three years I have had the privilege of coaching some wildly entertaining children. As an educator, I’m not supposed to have any favorites, but I here confess that I do. Blair Borah is in grade 2 this year, and already displays the wisdom and insight of the sages.

Last year Blair was introduced to the wonders of contact rugby. All little boys live in dread of the day that adults will realise that rugby is not a wonderful sport which teaches structure and discipline as they had always thought, but (as every right-minded six year-old knows), an excuse for organised hooliganism. After a sweaty training session one afternoon, I led the boys to the shade of an oak tree so that we could discuss the finer aspects of violence. The grinning faces of eighteen little boys stared up at me with wide eyes, eating up every word of advice I had for them. I had everyone’s attention, except Blair’s. He sat cross-legged, grasping a little twig tightly in each hand, and staring blankly into the void. After a minute or two of addressing the group I decided to break Blair gently out of his trance. I leaned in and whispered into his ear, “Blair… Blair, are you ok?” Suddenly he was back in the real world. His eyes fastened onto mine, he lifted the twigs to his forehead like little antenae, and with absolute sincerity and seriousness exclaimed, “I am a bumblebee. I will bite you with my bottom!” In spite of the eruption of raucus laughter from his class mates, Blair never even cracked a smile, but was instantly returned to the fantastic world of his imagination, his eyes, blank as sand-dunes again, his mind alight with possibility.

I was reminded of this episode this week because I had the pleasure of transporting Blair and some of his friends to a cricket match. As he hoisted his little body into the front seat of my car, he was not distracted by his team-mates fights over chair territory and arguments about who would score the most runs today, but conscientiously adjusted his seatbelt and checked to see if it could release. As we pulled away, I complimented Blair on his good safety habits. His reply was typically atypical: “Yes, we must watch out for falling meteors”. I smiled and looked down at the serious little face, and asked him if he was scared. I thought it might be a good opportuinity to talk to the little boy about God’s protection for His children. Blair looked at me incredulously, as if in wonder that an adult could say such strange things. “I’m not scared Mr Curle, I’m wearing my seatbelt!” Then he smiled kindly and whispered so that the boys in the back seat would not hear: “Don’t be scared Mr Curle, meteors hardly ever hit cars this time of year”. I smiled and thanked him for his concern. Then I focussed on the journey, content in the assurance that we would almost certainly arrive at our destination without being struck by a meteor.

I am often jealous of little boys like Blair who live in such fantastic worlds. Terrifying worlds to adults, what with the threat of meteor showers in August and little boys spontaneously metamorophosizing into large stinging insects. But to a child like Blair, it is HIS world. He is the hero of his story, and as long as he sticks to his few simple rules for life in Blair-land (like always checking your seat belt), he need never live in fear of meteors, bumblebees, or anything else that life throws at him.

“I wanna be Bob Dylan;
Mister Jones wants to be someone a little more funky,
But I think when everybody loves you,
That’s just about as funky as you can be”

Thus spake Adam Duritz (Counting Crows). And I used to sing the lyrics a lot in high school. In the shower mainly.

We all want to be someone. Some of us want to be rich. Some of us want respect. Some of us want to be famous. Some of us – like Mister Duritz – just want to be loved. They say that every generation since the Second World War has been less sure of what it is that they want. Our grandparents had a clear plan for their lives: go to school, get good grades, get into university, study, get a job, get married, have kids, make money, retire, enjoy your grandkids. It was clear. Twenty-somethings today are more interested in adventure than security. We’re willing to study different things. We’re not afraid to quite our jobs and travel. We’re much less afraid of “ending up alone”. While this has definitely given us interesting lives, I sometimes worry that all our adventuring is just a cover for an overwhelming sense of aimlessness. Unlike our grandparents, we don’t really know what we want.

Leane (my fantastically beautiful and insightful wife) and I were talking about our life’s ambitions over breakfast yesterday. Wimpy coffee being very condusive for philosophical discussion, we spent quite a long while talking about what we really want from our lives. Leane wants a Masters Degree… and children. Her main confusion is about the order of those two priorities. I wish I had such clear ambitions. I’m busy studying two degrees concurrently. I’m in my final year of theology and my second year of teaching. I coach sports. I teach guitar lessons. I lead worship. I help out with the youth ministry. My life is compartmentalized. My big challenge is that I’m not sure which compartment should be the center. What do I really want?

Then in the evening we travelled down to Pongola with our good friends Sheldon and Christen Hallis for a party to celebrate a pastor and his wife’s 25th year of ministry in the sweaty little town. I have had the opportunity to preach and lead worship for this little congregation on several occasions. I’ve grown to love the people and the airconditioning. But more than anything, the reason I’m always willing to make the drive down to Pongola on a Sunday morning is because of the kind of people the pastor and his wife are. Its pretty special when you get to hear what people really think about you before you die. It’s sad, but most people have to wait for their funeral to hear that their lives have actually meant something to the people around them. To give you an idea of the kind of people this couple are: we arrived at the dinner at 17:30, left at 21:00, and spent about 15 minutes eating. The remaining 3 hours and 15 minutes were filled by speech after speech, and testimony after testimony about how much the pastor and his wife had meant to the guests. A couple came all the way from Holland for the weekend to be there at this dinner! What I heard over and over again is that this man and his wife had sacrificed their whole lives building tight relationships with their friends. They have been acting as spiritual parents to hundreds of people for 25 years. They have sacrificed every other ambition. Makes you think.

Everybody has ambitions. Not many people have beautiful ambitions. Maybe my generation can escape the rat-race of our parents and move beyond our wonderlust and realise that what we really want are ambitions we can be proud of. Lives that matter to more than 1 or 2 people. Maybe I can learn to matter. I hope so.

“Blogging”.

It’s a strangely distasteful word. Like something you might accuse someone of in a heated argument when you’re just running out of ammunition. Your wife reminds of the time you had too much champaigne at your best friend’s wedding and embarressed yourself and everyone else by telling an inappropriate joke about shotgun weddings and redneck inlaws, and you reply: “WELL YOU’RE A BLOGGER!”

I confess to my shame that I always thought of blogging as the hobby of the sort of sad, lonely people who used to write “Murphy Rocks!” or “Foxy Sasha Wuz Here!” on the inner walls of the high school toilets. I believed that because nobody listens to these people in real life, their verbal constipation eventually explodes in hours of cyberspace scrawling, filling the airwaves with innane whinging that will never be read, much less appreciated. I was wrong.

My beautiful wife, Leane (in characteristicly unnassuming wisdom and innocence) introduced me to some truly amazing blogs, written by very talented and entertaining writers. These people write for the love of expression and don’t care if anyone reads… and inevitably, many people do.

Reading their blogs has inspired me to jealousy. I also want to write something other than theology assignments and learner assessments! I also want a clarity of thinking about the direction of my life! I also want to tell the jokes that I can never remember in person, and the poetry that is too beautiful for me to share without blushing!

And so I begin my little escapade in the comforting knowledge that few people will ever read these ramblings, and fewer still will feel the need to burst my little bubble of contentment by reminding me in heated arguments that I have become “A BLOGGER!”

About Me

Ecstatically married to Leane. Studying Theology and Teaching. Working as a worship leader, teacher, coach, guitar teacher. Living in the Mighty City of Mkondo in the sunny province of Mpumalanga, in the blessed country of South Africa.

Favourite Thoughts – Outbox

Religion is to be defended - not by putting to death - but by dying. Not by cruelty, but by patient endurance. - Lactantius (c.304-313).
What is essential Christianity? From first to last it is scandal, the divine scandal. Every time someone risks scandal of high order there is joy in heaven. - Soren Keirkegaard.
Where there are two Christians, there are three opinions... [Actually a Jewish saying, but at least as true for Christians]

Pages

Post Categories

August 2008
M T W T F S S
    Sep »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Blog Stats

  • 2,752 hits