Is life just a turn of the cards or a throw of the dice? In a large measure it is. Flip through the Rolodex of one’s life and cast one’s mind back how pure luck or blind chance determined which fork on the path of life that one took.
How did I decide to become a Chartered Accountant? It was certainly not a logical decision where all the options available to me were considered in a measured way with all the pros and cons carefully laid-out.
It was happenstance and an aptitude test conducted by the erstwhile University of Port Elizabeth. The result indicated that I should become an English teacher, a lawyer or a Chartered Accountant. The only question that I raised with the Evaluator was which one offered the highest salary.
How did I meet Janine, my future wife, some 30 years ago? I met an acquaintance of hers, Heather who I found both uncouth and intemperate but who insisted that I take Janine’s telephone number. On a whim I elected to retain the slip of paper despite incorrectly associating Janine with Heather. The following Saturday I had to work as it was budget time. Finishing at 15:00 & only having to pick up my date at 19:00 to take her to Greensleaves, I was at a loose end. Going through my wallet, I came across this dog-eared slip of paper with a telephone number & the name Janine on it.
After much scratching of the head, I remembered that an uncouth and drunken Heather had handed it to me. With a few hours to spare before going out, I phoned Janine and invited myself over to her parent’s house only to be surrounded by family and friends for the afternoon.
How did I become involved in hiking? My bookkeeper at Monoweld Galvanisers, Mies Wassenaar, was aware that I did the occasional hike and when Kurt was unable to hike the Fish River Canyon, she asked me whether I would be interested in doing it.
What about running? I was working for Barlow’s in Durban where both my boss and I played squash. The arrangement was that we would have a game together but it never eventuated. When the CG Smith Head Office was transferred to Barlow Park in Sandton, we were both relocated.
In September 1983, I was presented with a challenge by Haydon Franklin, my boss, with a case of beers on the outcome. Little did I know that the Challenge was the Joburg Marathon on 10th October i.e. one month away? I might have cursed when I ran it totally unprepared without an ounce of fitness but it was to become a life-long passion.
All the major forks in the road of my life occurred due to fate and not due to preplanning. Upon reflection isn’t that what is so special about life? Doors are opened seemingly inexplicably but is that truly so?
If I had been a tramp without prospects in life would a relationship with Janine have developed?
If I had considered the challenge of running a marathon in an unfit state far beyond my abilities, I would not now be on the threshold of running around the world in road races over the past 23 years.
If I had declined the offer to hike the Fish River Canyon with George Malan and his cronies, I would never have met such a wonderful bunch of people that one could ever wish to meet.
So isn’t life strange.
It could be a turn of the page or a flip of the dice that determines one’s life course but it is also what one puts into life itself. If I had been an indolent wastrel probably none of these opportunities would have presented themselves to me or if they had, I would never have grasped them with both hands.
In conclusion one must take all the opportunities offered to one for one never knows in advance which fork in the path is the one that will lead one ever upward to the sunlit uplands of Churchillian oratory.
Grasp those opportunities and cherish them.