Pictured: Jedi Ramalapa
Pictured: Jedi Ramalapa

We’ve all been there chasing something or someone we really want. It’s obsessive and brings purpose to your day, your life; chasing a dream, a job, a vacation, a relationship, a child, a lover, a mother, a father, sister, a career, a friend, a spirit, God, money, clothes, fashion, shoes, cars, houses, fame, honour, popularity, a beginning or an end to something, an answer. It is a chase because whatever it is you want, ideally you will like it to happen; now, you want it to happen fast, soon in fact yesterday.   I know about “the chase”, I am a journalist. We are always on the run, chasing this story or that story, hoping to be the first with the information or find a scoop, an angle which others have not yet found, it’s relentless even when there is no story to chase we’re still running after something – sometimes there is no thing there to chase but the chase continues  always searching for a loophole,  looking for a  crack somewhere, a scam, a mistake, an expose.

Ask anyone who knows me I have been on the run chasing only God knows what. If I am not physically travelling and on the run chasing  a story or something, my mind does the running around for me, chasing  fears, hopes, thoughts, ideas, things to do always, always  chasing even my own shadow.  In the chase I’ve seen life pass me by like the blurry image from inside a fast-moving car… hardly seeing the sky, the landscape or the flowers and how they bloom because there’s no time for that. Was that a smile, a kiss, a hug? How was the food? The coffee, did I taste it or was I already chasing the next thing I was going to do? What did I just say? Come back! Where are you? You are not here. Have been constant calls from those who love me, often I would go on the chase in mid-sentence, travel over the Atlantic or deep into some dream or memory or an angle for a story. Everything I’m listening to and everything that is happening around me has to be about whatever it is I am chasing if it’s not about the chase then I have no interest. I even have a real life chase account to illustrate my point.  There’s no time to waste “I might miss THE story”.  The story that will change my life, the story that will finally make the Chase worth it.

My mother says she loves the “chase”.  But her chase is very different from mine; it’s not about getting there first, fast and furiously.  It’s about romance and she is the ultimate romantic you see.  Her chase is about the suspense, the mystery you see – what’s the point of knowing the end before you even watch a movie is her answer because I have already asked “so how will it end?”   It’s the journey that makes the destination so much more rewarding. Because you are there for every moment, moving with  the story and allowing it to unfold, going up and down, and  down a bend, over the hill, opening up layer upon layer of i secretes which can be astonishing, sad, amazing, surprising, annoying, painful, funny, crazy, long, hard, exhilarating, breath-taking, mesmerizing, incredible, brilliant, entertaining and full of life. Like a long drive, a cruise, a voyage. It is what makes soccer (the football game I love to hate) so “addictive”.  It’s not the score at the end of the match  that matters so much as  what happens within those 90 minutes that matters, ( YES the score DOES matter !) it is not about kicking a ball around, it’s about the skill, the tackles, the strategy, the shrewdness, it’s about intuition, chance, luck, opportunity, it’s about the individual and the team  and how they all play with each other, t’s about training, hard work, team work, talent, dedication, passion, focus, it’s about loyalty, it’s about support , it’s about respect, it’s about communication, it’s about perseverance, it’s about ownership, it’s about you, it’s about the  coach, the  management, and it’s the combination of all those things working together in harmony that make the game such a pleasure to watch, it is what drives people so passionately mad, so crazy,  makes them stand up, shout and scream and cry, as if possessed,  it is what is so devastatingly disappointing when both teams don’t bring their best game to the pitch.

Knowing the score at the end of a match is not the same as having watched the game for a full 90 minutes and then some.  If it was, soccer players might swell show up  for a penalty shootout  only and then call it a game.

So to continue with the soccer analogy – I have been out of the game. I’ve been sitting on the bench; I’ve had a couple of injuries and a few yellow cards and some red cards, I‘ve changed teams, coaches, management, I’ve consulted, gone free. I was born in Kaizer Chiefs territory (Meadowlands, Soweto South Africa) changed teams when I lived in Orlando West to become Buccaneer (Orlando Pirates) in the English Premier League, Arsenal has always been my team by default because my friends were Arsenal fans. They’ve all broken my heart repeatedly over and over again over the years. So much so I quit soccer, peaking in every now again for the major tournaments always half – heartedly.  I have forgiven myself .

And now? I’m that guy running on the sidelines warming up. No longer a spectator, no longer indifferent.  I am a player and a supporter.  I am part of a team.  Because more than a win or a loss, it’s the knowledge that you belong, that you love and are loved.  It’s the knowledge that you have everything you need, the right training, the right coach, the right management for you, the right support, counselling, all the  resources, everything you need to play your best game – all of it is taken care of. That is what makes you step out into the field with confidence and pride. Because let’s face it, when your team walks out onto the field you are one of them. And as you stand , tall and  shoulder to shoulder with your team mates, at that moment when you place your right  hand across your chest  and feel the blood fueled adrenalin pulsating through your heart –  at that moment  you know, it’s not  about all the games you’ve lost, the yellow cards, red cards, fouls or fights you’ve had before. It’s about the fact that despite all your past failures as a player and as a team –   you’re still there standing  ready to play yet another game …  what a privilege.

Or as my mother would say; it’s knowing that  you are worthy, that you’re already chosen, that you are already the first, the one and the only that makes the “ chase” so exciting.

I love that we finally agree.

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