“Life is a test of endurance, strengths, challenges and patience.” – Kim Hoth
Not the most profound quote, Kim, I hope you didn’t make money off it. But still, it did inspire me, for a bit of fun, and in anticipation of my 40th birthday, to put together a Timeline of Noticeable Tests I’ve been set by the Universe so far;
- School: 1980-1991 – For someone with ADD (back when it was called laziness) and the social and sporting aptitude of a mole, school was a dark hell. To add to this, it was girls only, and coupled with the fact that I have two sisters and no brothers, a school social with a boys school was the Devil Ruler of that dark hell. Result: Pass with a certificate in the ability to remain invisible whilst wearing a yellow dress, a black cape and a tricorn hat. Yes, that was the uniform chosen by nuns, obviously.
- Pregnant at 21: 1994-1995 – Due to not being overly excited at the prospect of any career path I was attempting to follow, and clearly having shed the ‘uniform of chastity’, I decided to travel a bit, find myself so to speak, and learn more about what it is I wanted from life. Well I found myself in London, knocked up and wanting an explanation from a particularly useless brand of birth control pills. Result: Pass with distinction in time travel abilities by going from age 21 to 40 in a single day.
- Marriage: 2000-2008 – Yes, marriage is a test. A test of endurance, strengths, challenges and patience, quite right! Trust me, no matter what those teachers tell you , giving up can sometimes be an option. Put your pencil down; throw in the towel, or your hands in the air. It doesn’t matter. No-one puts a heavyweight together with a featherweight in a boxing ring, except when the referee is a Family Law Judge. Or someone will get badly hurt. Result: Miserable fail, with written request from Principle of the Universe to make no further attempts at it. Ever again.
- Divorce: 2008– present -Divorce is not really a test. It’s like a final contractually binding exam set by the Universe to ensure you live up to your promise to leave the subject of Marriage alone forever. Only, none of the things you’ve learnt are on the paper. In fact there is no paper. There is a train track and some rope, and an oncoming train filled with the relatives of your ex, and lawyers. The test is to survive being run over by the wheels of 18 carriages with your ex at the helm… Every day. For a year. And not be hospitalised, but rather wake up every morning with a smiley face and make school lunches, and you may be rewarded with anti-anxiety medication. But that’s all. There is no accolade apart from surviving. If you do, then with no recuperation time whatsoever, you might find yourself in the midst of a test in…
- Single-Parenting: 2008–present – This test is one of the easiest and the hardest. It’s like Life Orientation, one of those subjects they invented after I left school, obviously, or possibly it was invented after I left school for a reason, anyway. You can’t really study for it, and its multiple choice. So by the time you’ve guessed thousands of answers, eventually you just start colouring the answer squares in a particular pattern, like flowers or clouds shaped like happy faces, so at least it looks pretty, even if it’s wrong. The problem with this test is the fact that you don’t get your results for 20 years, which are presented after a final tally of children and grandchildren seated around your table for Christmas 2025, and like any multiple choice test, you have a 50/50 chance of doing brilliantly, or failing miserably. Result: Like in cricket, I won’t know until the end.
- Retrenchment: 2012 – ? This test, being merely a month old, seems pretty easy, pleasant even, as it has eliminated a whole lot of the small daily tests. Like dreading a call from my boss who has already been at work in sunny Johannesburg for an hour, whilst I’m late and sitting in traffic that is moving 7cm every half an hour because it’s raining in Cape Town. And how to explain to your child that it’s impossible to attend his grade’s Special Assembly at 8:30am on a Tuesday morning even though all the parents are welcome and encouraged to attend and everyone else’s parents are going to be there. No more of that, thanks to the Retrenchment Test. I’m quite sure it’s one of those tests that you think are really easy, but then you look around and see other people crying and chewing their pens, then you notice that feeling in the pit-of your stomach which you get when its starts to dawn on you that you’re probably missing something. I think my clue to the level of difficulty of this one, is the fact that its putting a real spanner in the ease of the single parenting test. I can’t help but think “eat toast and apples for a month” is not the right answer to “Money: What the hell are you going to do now” under the section In The Event Of You Getting What You Wished For.
I think I’m going to attach this to my CV. I reckon it blows any University degree right out of the water.
If I’m going to quote quotes about life’s difficulties, I prefer that one that goes something like. “Wine empties today of its troubles and tomorrow of its strength”…no wait, I just looked it up …its “Worrying doesn’t empty today of its troubles, but tomorrow of its strength”.
Well, the first one makes way more sense to me anyway, but then again I’m not quite 40 yet, perhaps you need to be older, experience life a little to really get it.