Jy was nog nooit in Lang traat as dit reen nie

The title reads “You’ve never been in Long Street when it rains…” and is the title of a South African song.

We all make many compromises through our time, trading in some dreams for others, and making peace with reality and working towards internal happiness is something our present society does not necessarily encourage or reward. Especially for us in the engineering/business world, life is about the next deadline, the next job, “the next big thing”. I hope to not underestimate the importance of constantly evaluating my path in life and adjusting it accordingly.

The trouble today for the (mostly wealthy) middle class of today is that there’s so many options to choose from and almost no guidelines on which way to go. The “Tradition!” that Fiddler on the Roof so eloquently examines has mostly been trodden down, thrown aside and ridiculed for being stupid, being the “easy way”, and the cause for untold amounts of struggle and unhappiness. Yet tradition has always given people a framework to guide themselves in. We’ve deconstructed most of the moral and practical guides that religion and tradition gave previous generations. We’re like a bunch of web developers writing in assembly – sure its going to be powerful and fast when you finally get it right, but the odds against success are… you get my gist. So where to? And what’s with the title?

The choices I’ve made in the couple of years i’ve been able to make them currently brings be to UC Berkeley, right smack in the Bay Area, studying Electical Engineering and Computer Science (read: selling my soul to the EECS department) and maybe once a week picking up my Bass Guitar or taking my bike out for a quick roll. Here and there I share time with friends, and over the weekends I am fortunate enough to be able to see my parents fairly often. But there’s something severely lacking in these events – where does introspection, planning life, working towards a future I want to be in, making a difference, or “training for life” come in? All the aspects that seems to crucial on the path to happiness are swept under the rug of competition for the top spot in the class, performing for a high GPA, working towards a well-paid job and studying studying studying for the next round of midterms. And yet, I’ve never been in long street when it rains. I sometimes think back of the time I lived in South Africa, and what comes back in the incredible amount of time I could spend on those things – the aspects of life that does take me on the road to truly live life.

I don’t have a conclusive answer to this extremely pressing problem that seems rampant in our society’s fabric, but I will press upon everyone to always keep in mind that, talking from experience, everything around you can change at a moment’s notice. So take the time to meet with a friend and walk through Long Street when it rains. If you don’t do it today, you never will.


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