DIE DUIWEL SE KOETSIER

DIE DUIWEL SE KOETSIER

devil

Die naam alleen is genoeg om jou in jou spore te laat vassteek…

Hy het baie name: The Devil’s Coachman, The Devil’s Horseman, The Devil’s  Steed. Sedert die Middeleeue word hy met die duiwel geassosieer. Wat is hierdie monster?

Ten spyte daarvan dat bronne vertel hoe algemeen hierdie gedierte in Europa en Brittanje voorkom, het niemand met wie ek in ons omgewing gepraat het, al een gesien nie. Ek is dus gelukkig, want ek het al twee keer hierdie duiwel gesien. So op my wandelings deur die voëlpark naby ons.

devils-coachman-2

Sy dofswart kleur het dadelik my aandag getrek. Hy is maar so drie sentimeter lank en lyk soos die insektewêreld  se weergawe van ‘n platipus – iets tussen ‘n pikswart mier en perdeby en, met sy gekrulde stert wanneer hy kwaad is, soos skerpioen. Ook soos ‘n oorkruiper op steroïede wanneer hy nie ‘n dreigende houding inneem nie.

‘n Aggressiewe klein gediertetjie wat seer kan byt met daardie sterk kake van hom. Nog ‘n wapen in sy arsenaal is ‘n stink vloeistof wat hy by daardie opgekrulde stert van hom uitspuit.

devils-coachman-1

Bedags, wanneer hy onder klippe en blare skuil, word hy selde gesien. Snags, wanneer hy op jag is, is hy op sy aktiefste en dit is dalk juis as gevolg hiervan dat daar sedert die  Middeleeue so baie bygelowe oor hom is. Hy het blykbaar, so is daar geglo, selfs destyds die stronk van Eva se appel geëet. Wanneer mense saans om die vuur sit, word hy deur die lig gelok en met sy dofswart kleur en bisarre, dreigende voorkoms het hy baie mense op hol gehad. Daar is ook geglo dat sewe van jou sondes vergewe word wanneer jy een van hierdie goggas vermorsel. Dit is ook die vorm wat die duiwel aanneem wanneer hy sondaars kom vang en opvreet.

Devil's Coach-horse Beetle (Staphylinus olens) in defensive posture

DEVIL’S COACH HORSE

Vir my is dit egter ‘n fassinerende skepsel. So jammer hulle is so skaars.

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ELVES AND DIESEL ENGINES

ELVES AND DIESEL ENGINES

Have you ever stood on a platform at the station while a diesel locomotive effortlessly glides past you? The smooth reassuring rumbling of that immensely powerful machine demands admiration while the trembles of the platform find their way up your legs. You just know that a mighty powerful force is at work here.

I’ve often linked the well-known saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” with this diesel-power and found some inspiration in it. I made myself believe that humanity consists of two main groups: Ordinary Elves (OE’s) and the Tough Diesel Engines (TDE’s). The Ordinary Elves represent the majority of people who are responsible for the normal day to day running of life as we know it. They get ready for work, go to work, do their work, go home, watch TV and go to bed. They are very important because they do just about everything from cleaning our streets, working in the offices, building our cars and houses, to making our clothes, nursing us, teaching us, defending and protecting us. Everything… up to a certain point. The OE’s only work until things start to heat up, when the challenges get more demanding and stress levels start rising.elves

That’s the signal for The Tough Diesel Engines to start up. When the OE’s can’t go any further, the TDE’s take over. You hear that mighty rumble and stand in awe. The TDE’s work, even when others sleep; they seem to get a sadistic pleasure out of problem-crunching. They never ask for pity but, hey, neither will they give a problem any. They don’t know the meaning of surrender; they persevere in the midst of adversities, battle their way onwards, forwards, always forwards.diesel

Are you a TDE or an OE?

One of the South African Defence Force’s elite units has a back-breakingly harsh selection and training program. Many try, but only a few make it to the end. The last phase of the program demands a survival route where the soldiers have to find their way in the most inhospitable environment and under the most unforgiving conditions imaginable. As the days drag by, the group of hopefuls dwindles because at the temporally bases transport is ready for those who wish. It’s your choice: allow the whole exercise to get the better of you and make use of the transport (and get disqualified in the process) or force yourself onward vigorously with the utmost exertion. special-forces-training

One pitch dark night an unfortunate soldier walked straight into a dry twig from a low-hanging tree branch. The twig impaled him in the eye, just missing his eyeball and blood was pouring from his wound. That same night another guy broke his ankle. These two decided not to go for treatment that would have put them at risk of disqualification and, after applying a bit of very basic medical treatment themselves, they pushed on.

As the days progress, you start to lose all sense of time and the only drive, ultimately, is to reach the prearranged rendezvous in time.

Unbeknown to the soldiers, the end of the course was in sight and, after a day with barely enough water supplies, the men reached the rendezvous, semi-conscious, anguished, hungry and dehydrated. The commander came up to them where they were huddled in a cloud of dust, flies and the sweaty smell of protracted scorching days in the bush on them. He addressed them – gesturing while clutching an icy cold beer. Pausing for a moment, he took a long sip, looked at the bottle and then emptied the content onto the absorbing sand, within sniffing distance of the shattered men. The beer was not cold enough.

“Guys,” he said, “I’m going to enjoy a colder one in the base after taking a long hot shower. Anyone care to join me? Transport is ready – anyone?”

Two men cracked then and there and stumbled to the waiting Land Rover. While two others tried to suck the wasted beer from the sand, the commander informed the remaining men that the next day would be the final day of this grueling encounter and that they could expect a barbeque and cold beer at the rendezvous.

With renewed effort and all the strength they could muster, they tackled the final stage.

The next evening, on approaching the rendezvous, the depleted group of men, drained to the bone, noticed a solitary Land Rover, nothing else. The closer they got, the clearer it became: no barbeque-fire, no beer, nothing to eat. Some of them flopped down onto their knees in a cloud of dust and started weeping. During the day they had consumed all their water and rations – no need to save it because, so they had been told the previous night, tonight the end of this phase would be celebrated with plenty to eat and drink. Of the initial squad, only nine had survived. The commander then stepped out of the Land Rover and walked towards the wretched group of men.

“Listen guys, there’s been a misunderstanding and I admit that I’m the one to blame. I got the dates mixed up, and I’m truly, truly sorry. Tomorrow, not today, will be the end of this phase. As a token of my remorse, I’ve brought you a little something to eat. It’s on the Land Rover. I will completely understand if some of you want to go back with me, there’s plenty of space on the Land Rover. The rest of you, get your instructions for tomorrow and something to eat.”

Two men summarily got onto the Land Rover, Their grazed, grey faces, empty eyes sunken into the sockets, told the whole story of disappointment and disillusionment. The remaining seven opened the stainless steel food container – raw cabbage drenched in diesel. No water either, only their instructions. Was it a sadistic smile on the commander’s face as he started the engine? Another guy got onto the vehicle. The remaining six contemplated the long, dry stretch ahead of them, and then started walking.

About two kilometers further, as they came round a hill, they could at first smell it and then they saw it: a campsite with flames from barbeque-fires and cold beers to welcome them. The end of their ordeal!braai

What went through the minds of those guys on the Land Rover? If only they’d held on for two more kilometres – two kilometres stood between them and a victory!tired-soldier

All so often we throw in the towel without really knowing how close we are to success. Isn’t it worthwhile, after all the pain and suffering, to give it one more push? Are we not just two kilometres away from victory?

My mother engraved a saying in my memory and even when the diesel engine wearies, her catchphrase echoes:

NEVER SAY DIE, GET UP AND TRY!

never-say-die

May you experience God’s loving care in the same abundance I have.

God bless.

IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE, THIS E-BOOK CAN BE ORDERED FROM:

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Book Cover2

HE WHO HAS A WHY? TO LIVE FOR CAN BEAR WITH ALMOST ANY HOW?

(Title: Friedrich Nietche: Twilight of the Idols – 1888)

 

(Watch the video at the end – but read the article first)

My attitude to my circumstances very often dictates my actions as well as the end result.
At some stage or another in our lives, we have all been touched by astonishing accounts of people who have risen above their circumstances. When I find myself in such a position, though, it is not always that easy to be objective about it.
Not long before his death while in exile in Mexico, knowing it was just a matter of time before Joseph Stalin’s assassins would catch up with him, Leon Trotsky wrote:

 Natasha (his wife) has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full.  (TROTSKY’S TESTAMENT – 27 FEBRUARY 1940)

 In his poignant book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl (what an appropriate name!) describes his experiences in a German concentration camp. He shares the methods that he applied to carry him through this horrific ordeal and helped him find a reason to live.

 We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

 According to him, when we are no longer able to change a situation – like an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer – we are challenged to change ourselves. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him – mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp.

 Frankl set out three different ways to discover this meaning in life:

1. By creating a work or doing a deed

2. By experiencing something or encountering someone

3. By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.

He writes that it does not really matter what we expect from life, but rather what life expects from us. In the concentration camp “…we needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

 We should live as if we were living already for the second time and as if we had acted the first time as wrongly as we are about to act now!

 Frankl concluded that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living. Life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death. Frankl demonstrated this notion in a group therapy session during a mass fast inflicted on the camp’s inmates trying to protect an anonymous fellow inmate from fatal retribution by authorities. He offered the thought that for everyone in a dire condition there is someone looking down, a friend, family member, or even God, who would expect not to be disappointed. He came to the conclusion that a prisoner’s psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life, but also from the freedom of choice he always has even in severe suffering.

 The inner hold a prisoner has on his spiritual self relies on having a hope in the future, and that once a prisoner loses that hope, he is doomed.

 

We see an example of Frankl’s idea of finding meaning in the midst of extreme suffering in his account of an experience he had while working in the harsh conditions of the Auschwitz Concentration camp:

… We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbours’ arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honourable way – in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfilment. For the first time in my life, I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory”

In the original musical, Time, by Dave Clarke the character, Akash – brilliantly played by the late Sir Laurence Olivier, delivers the following verdict:

Throughout the universe there is order
In the movement of the planets, in nature
and in the functioning of the human mind.
A mind that, in its natural state of order,
is in harmony with the universe
and such a mind is timeless.

Your life is an expression of your mind.

You are the creator of your own Universe –
For as a human being, you are free to will whatever
state of being you desire through the use of your
thoughts and words.
There is great power there.
It can be a blessing or a curse –
It’s entirely up to you.
For the quality of your life is brought about
by the quality of your thinking –
think about that.

Thoughts produce actions – look at what you’re thinking.
See the pettiness and the envy and the greed and the
fear and all the other attitudes that cause
you pain and discomfort.
Realize that the one thing you have absolute
control over is your attitude.

See the effect that it has on those around you
for each life is linked to all life
and your words carry with them chain reactions
like a stone that is thrown into a pond.


If your thinking is in order,
your words will flow directly from the heart
creating ripples of love.

If you truly want to change your world, my friend,
you must change your thinking.
Reason is your greatest tool,
it creates an atmosphere of understanding,
which leads to caring which is love

Choose your words with care.

Go forth … with love.

 

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW TO WATCH THE VIDEO:

(Oh, that voice, that voice…)