Futility. Noun. Meaning: Uselessness or powerlessness.
A well known english proverb states that only idiots repeat the same actions over and over, each time expecting a different result. During my days at Varsity, we used to call it research.
Let’s be honest, 2018 was a rough year. It started with many of us surviving an assassination attempt by polony. Looking back, this kind of set the tone for the rest of the year. Career changes, renovations, family fights. Politically the country went on a rollercoaster and economically it was much of the same. You had to sell body parts at the end of the year to afford petrol.
But inevitably we made it.
There is this running joke in my house with regards to my influence on the weather. I have not touched our pool since autumn, so the greenish marsh in our backyard was not going to help without a great intervention. Whilst working on that I lost my car in the parking area because it blended in so well with the dirt road I parked it on. It’s not supposed to be the same colour, but I still lost it. So obviously the car had to be washed. Here, my dilemma starts.
Without fault, for the past few years, whenever I go through the intense exercise of getting the cars shiny or struggling for days and hundreds of rands to get the pool sparkling, a thunderstorm of Biblical proportions will erupt, out of nowhere. The first lightning strike turns the pool green, right before your eyes. The rain will pull every possible loose rock, grain of sand, leaf or dead frog from the garden and flush it into the pool. Twenty minutes later and my two days of sweat, wastage of water, backwashing, rinsing, filtering, chemical treatment, all whilst trying to keep my two year old from drowning, is for nothing. Our fishpond/marshpit/cesspool returns.
This happens every time.
Fork out the extra money to have the car polished. Try out the new and improved pool cleaning system and the minute that pool is azure blue, BOOM, thunder strikes!
Its futile. And useless, but it has to be done. Sometimes we get to drive the shiny car for longer than a day. We sometimes get to take a dip in an island-like transparent blue pool. But it is fleeting. And I am powerless to stop the inevitable.
2018 felt like an endless cycle of cleaning cars and backwashing pools. Sometimes there was a lull and we would get to enjoy the fruits of our labour, but eventually the storms would start. And the process has to start again. The thing is, although it remains a futile task, there are times when the predictability of the task is my saving grace. When the futility is its own reward. When the routine becomes something that I can handle, because all the other stuff is just too overwhelming.
The best thinking time I have is whilst cleaning the pool. I have solved many problems while painstakingly removing 3 week old millipede skeletons from the pool floor. And the time spent with my daughter when we wait for the car to be polished has turned out to be some of the best moments of the year. She helped me wash the car so many times this year. It makes the inevitable rainstorm and dirt something I look forward to.
The cars are in the garage, slightly dusty. But the pool is sparkling.
The clouds are already gathering.
Mr MJ Bornman