Mano a Mano


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Mano a Mano

Does anyone else out there feel schizophrenic? I am. I think everybody is. Maybe that line between your split personalities is less delineated than mine. Most people have a fusion of personas. Overlaps and grey areas. Your personas are all fused into one, or the id, ego and superego if my Psych 101 serves me correctly. Mine are quite distinct. In fact, chalk and cheese, black and white.

Have you ever played Mortal Kombat? That's what happens in my head and in my heart, daily. I have two contenders: 'Rational Rob' whose special power might be derived from his alliterative name... You never know. And in the other corner there is 'Emotional Rob', whose special powers are derived from the collective and accumulative evolution of mankind's spirit.

Now picture a Mortal Kombat battle with these two pugilists engaged in a war of biblical proportions. Equally matched. Each knowing the weaknesses and strengths of the other and exploiting both. 'FINISH HIM' will scream through your crappy PC speakers as 'Emotional Rob' blocks an impressive combo from 'Rational Rob' and counter-attacks with a flurry of impulsivity blows and releases the awesome power of spontaneity, leading with the heart and gut; impervious to the wily, cerebral thrust and parry of his opponent.

Locked in an eternal internal battle. My cranium is a battleground littered with corpses and echoing with victory cries.

Perhaps it's the figurative 'devil and angel' scenario? They sit on my shoulder whispering things into my subconscious. 'Trust yourself and jump' says 'Emotional Rob'. 'Listen to reason. Look before you leap. It would be unwise not to; judging by what others have done and the mistakes they have made. History and experience prove it. Surely you can see that?' mutters 'Rational Rob'. 'Bollocks to that!' shouts 'Emotional Rob', 'I will suck the marrow; jump in the deep end and only then think about learning how to swim.' To which 'Rational Rob' replies: 'You're a fucking idiot! It's going to end badly and you know it!' 'Pfffft, whatever! I need to experience everything. Heartache and pain, love and happiness. It's Yin and Yang. You can't live in fear. You must just do it - whatever it is - screw the consequences. It's the only way to live life. It's visceral and raw and it's the truth. It represents everything that it means to be alive and human. Your rationality is a hindrance and a crutch.'

'It's not a crutch, you myopic lunatic! It's being rational. How can anyone make a case against rationality?' scoffs 'Rational Rob'.

'I can and I will,' replies 'Emotional Rob'.

Every day my mind is a boxing match between these two. I prefer 'Emotional Rob', but I love the way 'Rational Rob' thinks. He always makes so much sense and I would be best positioned to heed his advice more often. However, 'Emotional Rob' has lead me to paths less traveled. He has taught me the most, both good and bad. I trust 'Emotional Rob' implicitly. It's a roller-coaster ride though. Massive parabolic curves, waxing and waning between absolute gut-wrenching darkness and pain, but taking me into atmospheric heights of pleasure, love and happiness. 'Rational Rob' hates the roller-coaster. He is scared of heights. He is a fucking pussy. He does make a lot of sense though.

They both live in my head. Like an old married couple. Constantly bickering, but in a strange way, they both have a deep love and understanding of each other. I am forced to take sides in this argument though, like a reluctant dinner guest drawn into a domestic squabble.

This is my schizophrenia. This is my life. This is me.

Am I right though? Does everyone have this same experience? Or do I really have a split personality?

Who wins in your cerebral Mortal Kombat battles? And why? Who do you listen to? And why? You'll notice question marks are quite prolific. My mind is a permanent maelstrom of questions. I hate them. 'Tis but the curse of what is termed an 'inquiring mind'. I suffer under and rejoice my inquiring mind. It is yet another thing that convinces me that I have a split persona. Question everything! But be prepared for the answer. In fact, be prepared to realise that each answer is coupled with yet another question. Peace in my skull is my greatest wish. It is the reason I do 'extreme sports'. Nothing shuts up those two aforementioned idiots than throwing them both out of a plane or off a 3 metre drop on a minedump or off of a building or into any scenario where any lapse in concentration will result in death or serious, debilitating injury. I enjoy the silence, but I do not wish for the bliss of ignorance. I don't want to be a mouth breather. Living life in some catatonic state of vacuous stupidity. As much as I would enjoy the white noise of ignorance, I still relish my inquiring mind and what I have learnt and experienced because of it.

'Emotional Rob' is often the victor in my life. Unfortunately, it is - more often than not - a Pyrrhic Victory. The battle is won, but not the war.

And now, if you have battled through this post, you will understand me quite intimately. It's my own cathartic release and I can only hope it is either enlightening or entertaining, or both.

'Emotional Rob' signs off with a Shakespearean quote 'This, above all, to thine own self be true!' (tattooed on my chest, by the way)

'Rational Rob' signs off with an Einstein quote: 'There are only two things that are infinite: the universe and human stupidity... And I'm not sure about the former.' (not tattooed on my person, but equally as relevant)

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Hitting the ground running 

I crank out this old chestnut every year at this time. Enjoy!

Ah, the halcyon days of a summer holiday. The aptly titled festive season is pregnant with the stuff of dreams. Presents and parties. Beaches and beers. Sunshine and surf. Fiestas and siestas. Mamasitas and margheritas. Mexican revelry aside, the list is boundless and embodies the true reward for our year-long slog at the coalface. Yet all too soon the wrapping paper is lining your kitchen drawers, the tree is dead; the hangovers linger like farts under the blankets, and the final grains of beach sand fall out of your boardshorts as you pack them away to the back of your cupboard.

Your first Monday back at work and cold reality hits you like a cement avalanche. It’s like waking up from a particularly erotic dream involving your tongue down Megan Fox’s throat, only to find your bulldog Winston lapping lovingly at your face. What the (insert preferred expletive)? The New Year is supposed to spell hope and renewed vigour after your relaxing sabbatical. You are supposed to be champing at the bit and rearing to go. Bollocks!

Post-holiday blues they call it. And when it hits, it’s like an uppercut from an amphetamine-crazed Mike Tyson. The causes are numerous and evil:

Fatigue: Yup, that holiday was supposed to recharge your batteries, but nooooo, you had to go at it hammer and tongs. You should have flashbacks of tequila marathons, four course gluttony, dancing on tables, falling off tables, spading anything with a pulse, beers for breakfast, too many sunrises through inebriated eyes. Eish! Basically, you’re fucked. You’re body has taken a Santa-sized rockin’ and now the liver police are a knockin’.

Unfulfilled expectations: You thought that somehow the holiday would magically fix everything and transform your life. Dude it’s just a holiday. Same shit, different day is now your mantra. 

Financial reality: Bonus, thirteenth cheque, Xmas cash from Granma, salary for January which you said would last. Sure. It’s all gone. Your credit card looks like a Dali painting, molten and ugly. Screw road fatalities, budgets are the first casualties of the festive season. 

Relationship tensions: Your romantic holiday turned into a 2-week emotional hurricane. Bickering, blow outs, snide remarks about map reading etc. Or the typical family gatherings turned into bitter, perhaps bloody, feuds. 

Work schmirk: Back at work you have 1434 unanswered e-mails. You slacked off before the break letting stuff pile up. Everyone else is cranky. Everyone wants it yesterday. Ouch!

Essentially, a great recipe for suicidal tendencies. And who can blame you? If you feel bright and chipper in your grey cubicle staring at a flickering PC screen after weeks of sun, sand, beach and babes, then you need your head read. But all is not lost. Here’s some tips on filing that shit under yesterday’s news and looking to 2011 with all that florid shyte you got sent via SMS on New Year’s day. You know, wings to fly, dreams to cuddle, unicorns vomiting rainbows and all that girly bollocks.

Health: Time to pay your debt. Multi-vitamins, fruit and veg, bit of gym or a jog. Few less Patrons on a Friday night. You know the drill, now do it. Waking up with a massive hangover now will only send you deeper down. Feeling healthy will give you renewed energy.

Friends and family: Dude you had a blast with all those people. Why stop now? Visit people, go for coffee, send e-mails, and make a few calls. Just because you aren’t on holiday doesn’t mean the deathknell of your social life. Moping is the worst thing you can do. 

Plan your future: Nothing left to look forward to, huh? Make plans. Start planning a weekend away ASAP, or even your Easter break. Mark down in your diary any events like parties, engagements, concerts, sports, hell even braais. This will give you plenty to look forward to.

Cheap, cheap: Conserving precious financial resources is the order of the day. Go out less. If you wanna have a blow-out, have a cocktail party. Ask each person to bring a different spirit or mixer. DVD instead of the movies. Pasta instead of prawns. Picnics in the park. Chill by the pool with a book. Go for a drive in the country. Sleep.

The dreaded Work: Work is gonna be hell the first few weeks. Try and ease into it. Take your whole lunch break out of the office. Even if it’s just a zarm in the carpark. Don’t work late to catch up. Get your colleagues to help out. You’re all in this together.

Hopefully, these crutches will help a little. It’s still gonna hurt, but hey, you should have some awesome holiday memories to tide you over. Don’t dwell too much on them though. Start thinking how you’re gonna top it this December. 

Good luck!

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