Musings of a Teacher

October 13, 2015

Stop being a negative nancy!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jaco van Niekerk @ 11:06 am

It has recently come to my attention that I’ve developed a penchant for approaching things negatively. I always saw myself as a realist, but the slide from realist to pessimist is an easy and common one. In retrospect, I don’t think that this is necessarily a very recent or sudden thing, but has in fact become slowly, unwittingly imbedded in my daily approach to things.

When I think back to my days as a bright-eyed kid I picture a happy child, an optimist and a dreamer. When did this change? Ignorance is bliss, as they say, so perhaps the true culprit in my new-found negativity is knowledge. This presents a pretty disheartening conundrum; I’m a teacher whose very purpose is combating ignorance, but am I replacing ignorance with pessimism? Ignorance should never be an acceptable alternative to knowledge, but we should consider carefully what reality we are teaching people.

Reality is a construct of perception and perception is heavily influenced by external factors. External factors constantly bombard us with everything that is going terribly wrong in the world. Any reasonable person would then perceive things to seem to be in a constant state of falling apart. This sense that the world is falling apart is therefore our reality which we have created for ourselves (with the help of a swarm of negative Nancys surrounding us). So what do we do with this demoralising reality we are faced with? We run to our friends and tell them how much the world sucks and that it’s all going to hell, which then becomes their perception and their reality. And so it spreads.

I put forward the following notion: Life isn’t actually getting worse. When Star Wars IV came out in the 70s people had to wait forever for it to hit the cinemas in South Africa, if it even ever did. Now I am eagerly anticipating the international release of Star Wars VII which I plan to watch on a ridiculously sized IMAX screen in 3D. If I somehow inexplicably miss that opportunity I can watch it on my 42” TV when it comes out on DSTv early next year, or if I’m not willing to wait, I could (somewhat illicitly) acquire it from the internet. If technology has improved immeasurably over the past three decades, and is supposed to make our lives better and easier…how has life become worse?

The Syrian crisis is terrible and if you’re a Syrian then you are justifiably allowed to be a GINORMOUS pessimist. Terrible things happen all over the world every single day, but they have always happened and they will always happen. That doesn’t mean the world is going to hell. Amazing things are also happening all over the world. Amazing things have always happened and will always continue to happen every single day. Most of the time we are not necessarily directly influenced by these events (positive or negative) and it is therefore up to us to decide where we want to put our focus.

I’m certainly going to try to approach life in a more positive way. It’s not always easy as the negativity that permeates this world will always be there, but so will the good vibes. Shakespeare once said, “Nothing is good or bad, thinking makes it so.” I think life is actually pretty damn awesome.


February 12, 2009

The Beauty of Human Existence

Filed under: Self-written — Jaco van Niekerk @ 3:01 pm

The beauty of human existence

Occasionally drifts into our lives,

If it were only sought…

The requent is a brave soul,

Fearless of knowledge inquest,

Transcending into new meaning,

Ambivalent in realisation of sense.

Truth hovers before our eyes,

But we shield them and our hearts.

We blind ourselves to the pure simplicity,

The effortless pristine perfection of

The wonder that really is!

Hello world!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jaco van Niekerk @ 12:10 pm

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