Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Story Full of Asses

I fell off my ass. Yup. I said “off”. I fell off it and onto it. And I was one, too. It was that sort of a time, when I didn’t experience something new, but became part of an ancient tradition of human conflict. It was a brief time of what-ifs and maybes, but in the end I was just part of something beyond my capacity to alter. And yet the impact of that fall did more than leave bruises and remove possessions, it also left a lasting impact on me, in the way I was picked up, and put back on my ass again.

Gratuitous use of the word ass. Sure. This is why. The ass I fell off was the one on which I was travelling: a donkey. Like the guy in the story, I was merely going from one place to another, my ass and me, oblivious to physical threat. Then, like the story, I was set upon by bandits. They beat me up and took whatever they could. No new plot twists there, either. They pulled me off my ass, and literally threw me down, on my ass. I was left in several pools of blood with nothing left.

The next part is important… I made it as far as the police station. They didn’t help me. Then the first of the Samaritans came along. See, I could have fallen asleep in my house, which is where I was attacked, and died; alone, my phones, money and computer gone. Might as well have been lying in a ditch in the semi-desert. And yet over the next few days, I had so many people seeking me out. They’d heard a little bit, and they made sure I was in a safe place, a place of recovery. They gave me enough to get on my feet, and ultimately put me back on my ass.

I was traumatised- the ancient stories and their modern counterparts- movies and books- don’t acknowledge that as a central theme to violence. But despite my behaviour unravelling to the point that I was half-unhinged, a frightened man, vacillating between fantasies of revenge and of wanting to hide, my friends insisted that I had never lost my ass, but that all I had to do was recover, and they would help me climb back on when the time was right.

And I’m back- I sometimes get off to rest, sometimes suspect that the ass could throw me off and refuse to take me on my journey, but so far so good. I could get on a treadmill of hate, hating the bandits or the people who didn’t offer the assistance I required, but instead I want to focus on the amazing way that my Samaritan friends came along. Some of them have never met me. Some of them have. Neither of those factors prevented them from offering love and support, and for that I’m grateful. When I coped with it the wrong way, and fell apart, I was met with wisdom and encouragement, and even when I wasn’t a pleasant person to be around, my friends and extended virtual family didn’t focus on the ugliness, but on the healing.

Once again, it’s worth saying: Friends put friends back on their asses, and my own experience of that is absolutely awe-inspiring. From practical support to a short message beamed through a cable, it made a difference. Made the shadows get shorter, and the light brighter.


  1. And so the healing has begun. And should you fall of again, get back up and straddle the thing! #alwayshereforyou

  2. I still can't believe the police did NOTHING. I mean, I don't know what it's like in SA but that's just inexcusable.

  3. I followed your blog on the recommendation of a mutual acquaintance. Brilliant use of the metaphor. I'm a sucker for good writers, I'll be around more. Kudos on straddling the ass again. Strongs.

  4. @Riven: Honesty ftw!
    @kambabe: Sweet, man. Never been told to straddle an ass like that before. Kinda shocking.. Thanks, friend.
    @beck: It took exactly one day for the file to end up in an office labelled 'cold cases'. I kid you not. Fortunately, I survived, despite their utter disregard...
    @patchwork: So glad you could join the fun! And thanks for the encouragement. *off to check out your blog*

  5. The friends who stick around when you fall off and onto your ass are the friends worth keeping, we love you


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