December 8, 2015 § 1 Comment
This morning, as I contemplated how to cope with the latest heatwave in Johannesburg, I found myself going around the house as my mother sometimes did, drawing the curtains during the daytime, to hold out the sun.
If you leave a gap for the breeze to slip through, and block most of the window with the curtain, the house might be a little dark, but it’s also blissfully cool and strangely soothing.
On a Sunday afternoon, when I have the opportunity, I retreat to my bedroom for a nap. And again I find myself doing what my mother did. I draw the curtains, and the slight darkness tells my brain it’s time to nap. I remove my outer clothes and lay them on a chair so they aren’t rumpled, and slip between cool sheets in my underwear for a slumber that seems all the sweeter for the lack of encumbrance.
Perhaps it’s just a product of middle age, but I find myself gravitating away from the new towards some of the things my parents used to do, those old things society used to do before we all leapt on the treadmill of Modernise! Update! Improve!
In the relentless pursuit of progress, there are some old ways we’ve left behind, and which we could sorely use in today’s world.
I don’t only mean the quiet drawing of curtains when it’s hot or you want to nap. I don’t only mean the return to eating food that your grandmother would recognise as such, or cooking your own meals and eating at a communal table, or taking a daily ‘constitutional’ walk.
I mean some other old things too: kindness, gentleness, friendliness, warmth, consideration, courtesy, and respect. We’d all do well to employ a few more of those.