Wednesday, 25 November 2015

I Have Found The Wife, Now What??

"I cannot see how, by reason of being loved, that which is loved for its beauty is bound to love that which loves it; besides, it may happen that the lover of that which is beautiful may be ugly" - Miguel de CervantesDon Quixote: The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha.

Genesis 2 Verse 18: And the Lord God said, it is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. Picture Credit: Meagan Good Facebook Page.
Dear Friends 

I come back to you with a problem that is even more perplexing than the one I concerned you with last time. You will remember that I wrote to you, two years ago, asking you what criteria I should use in choosing a wife. You did not reply, and, since you all lead busy lives, I just assumed you agreed with the criteria I had set out. 

I am beginning to think that we did not think this through. You see, we only focused on what I should be looking for in a wife but we did not work on whether I, myself, would also be what the woman is looking for. We completely forgot the oft repeated war maxim: "the enemy has a vote in your plans!

If you remember well, I emphasized that the woman has to be extremely beautiful and - for my sins - I have found her. But this is where my problems begin. A passage I read recently fills me with much diffidence. It describes how someone, who was in exactly the same situation as me, fared when he approached his choice for wife. 

In reading Miguel de Cervantes's excellent book - Don Quixote: The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha - I have come across a situation not that distant to my own. Miguel de Cervantes describes the plight of Chrysostom - a gentleman from antiquity - who fell under the spell of the incomparably beautiful Marcela. Helen of Troy was a frog compared to Marcela. Her beauty had sent quite a few other men round the bend but, it was Chrysostom who had it the worst: he actually died from having his love unrequited by Marcela. Be aware that he did not commit suicide, the despair killed him! At the burial, Chrysostom's friends denounced Marcela, in turns, for having caused Chrysostom's death. Marcela then appears at the burial to defend herself against these slanderous allegations. What she said in her defence is very instructive, and, makes me question what folly inspired me to think that a woman meeting my criteria was all that mattered. She said; 

“I [have] come... to defend myself and to prove how unreasonable are all those who blame me for their sorrow and for Chrysostom's death; and therefore I ask all of you that are here to give me your attention, for it will not take much time or many words to bring the truth home to persons of sense.

Heaven has made me, so you say, beautiful, and so much so that in spite of yourselves my beauty leads you to love me; and for the love you show me you say, and even urge, that I am bound to love you. By that natural understanding which God has given me I know that everything beautiful attracts love, but I cannot see how, by reason of being loved, that which is loved for its beauty is bound to love that which loves it; besides, it may happen that the lover of that which is beautiful may be ugly, and ugliness being detestable, it is very absurd to say, ”I love thee because thou art beautiful, thou must love me though I be ugly. 

But supposing the beauty equal on both sides, it does not follow that the inclinations must be therefore alike, for it is not every beauty that excites love, some but pleasing the eye without winning the affection; and if every sort of beauty excited love and won the heart, the will would wander vaguely to and fro unable to make choice of any; for as there is an infinity of beautiful objects there must be an infinity of inclinations, and true love, I have heard it said, is indivisible, and must be voluntary and not compelled. If this be so, as I believe it to be, why do you desire me to bend my will by force, for no other reason but that you say you love me? Nay--tell me--had Heaven made me ugly, as it has made me beautiful, could I with justice complain of you for not loving me?"

So, as you can clearly see, it is for fear of such a sound rejection that I have not yet dared approach the woman I imagin... - (why do I say imagine when I am certain?) - the woman I  am certain will seamlessly fit my plans. I only mention this by way of updating you how matters stand at present as, in our busy lives, it is easy to lose track of each other. I also imagine that in your experiences you may know how others of your acquaintance circumvented this problem I related above. I look forward to your thoughts - any thoughts - on this perplexing matter. Thank you.

Yours sincerely

Cambridge, November 2015.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Why I Run

"Battle is the ultimate to which the whole life's labour of an officer should be directed. He may live to the age of retirement without seeing a battle; still, he must always be getting ready for it as if he knew the hour and the day it is to break upon him. And then, whether it come late or early, he must be willing to fight - he must fight" - Brigadier General C.F. Smith.

At the finishing line of my most recent 21 Kilometre Road Race in England.
by Kudakwashe Kanhutu 

I have always known, somehow, that if I am to achieve the plans I have laid out for my life, I will need to be exceptionally fit. It all started with my preparations to join the Zimbabwe National Army... I lie, in fact, it started earlier than that with the long hikes I had to undertake everywhere in the Zambezi Valley; to primary school, to fetch water, to our maize fields, to graze our livestock, to hunt..., you name it. By some coincidence nothing was ever a stone's throw away when I was growing up in the rural areas. My physical training became more formal, more regimented when I started playing junior club football in Marondera - a small town 71 Kilometres east of Harare. From then on, as the saying goes, the (fitness) bug caught on. 

When I moved back to Harare after completing Secondary School and started playing for a National Premier Soccer League team, I had to do a bit more physical training by myself to be competitive. I would do some road work with my team mates then train 3 days a week at the National Sports Stadium by myself: this involved running up and down the stands after weights training in the gym there. Reflecting back on that training routine of mine, all I can say now is: there are easier ways of attempting suicide! 

It was around this point that my older brothers suggeste..., told me it was time to join them in the National Army. Where I had been doing 5 kilometres road work, 3 days a week, I had to double it to 10 kilometres a day, 3 days a week. The problem was that although I completed these gruelling road runs, I wasn't timed and so didn't know whether I would meet the requisite cut-off times for national army selection. 

Mindful of the revered adage that you never test the depth of the waters with both feet, I decided to pit myself against those already in the army to see if I was ready. My first competitive road race then, was the Annual Commander of the Army's 21 Kilometre Road Race (which then became a permanent fixture for me whenever I could be in Harare). You could actually say I run because a tradition started thus. 

This first instalment of mine did not go as well as I would have wanted: I did not win it. But, you will be pleased to know that I finished my first competitive half marathon ever. I only mention this because I actually saw one person get picked by an ambulance after having collapsed. Some people have actually died all over the world while attempting to finish the Half Marathon or Marathon. Running these gruelling long distances then, makes you discover things you did not know about yourself and the world we live in. "All men are created equal" (scoffs), what rank idiot thought that one up?? I found out the hard way that the contrary is true! 

Harare to Mazoe and Back Endurance Test: 

My friends from 1 Commando and I just dreamt this one up and we carried it out. From 1 Commando Barracks to the Mazoe Dam via the A11 Highway is just under 45 kilometres. Running there and back would be just under 90 kilometres, but when you are young and in your own country, the only reason not to do anything is if it is illegal. It is not illegal to run from Harare to Mazoe and back, so we went. 

The Mazoe Dam viewed from the general direction of Harare. The A11 Highway we used would be on the extreme left of this picture and will be in the shadow of the mountain you see in the background on the left.

I do, however, have an excuse for why I failed to finish this race: then, I was just a regular guy. My friends had just had their Special Forces pass out parade. If you also look at the picture above of the Mazoe Dam, you will notice that the dam is in the shadows of two mountains. They are not the greatest and highest mountains, of course, but you can be assured the terrain around these parts is by no means flat. 

Going towards Mazoe was a breeze, the A11 Highway is generally downhill from the outskirts of Harare until you get to the Mazoe Dam. This means I could see my running mates all the way to Mazoe. What this also means, conversely, is that the return run to Harare is generally uphill. I still managed to see my running mates on the way back to Harare, but very briefly, as I passed them. You see, I was now on the back on a Gweru bound open-truck that gave me a lift back to Harare. One hill had refused to cooperate with me on the return run. I had, then, an inkling that not all men are created equal and, as well, full knowledge that sometimes no matter how hard you try, you may not succeed.

21 Kilometres separating the Men from the boys.
The Mental Discipline: 

Of course, the Harare to Mazoe and back road race was overreach and the overzealousness of youth on my part. I know that now. We should not think it's indicative of my lack of the mental discipline required to go through with anything that has a degree of difficulty. Whenever you run, as I recently did in the 2015 edition of the Ealing Half Marathon, the first 5 - 7 kilometres are down to your physical fitness, but from then on till the 21 kilometre finishing line: it's your mental discipline that makes you make it. 

People who run in these races have all sorts of motivations, such as commemorating loved ones or raising money for charity. Whatever the motive, the constant is that you will not finish if you do not have the mental discipline. My motive, apart from keeping the tradition I started for myself at 1 Commando, is maintaining my levels of fitness; for the things I want to do later on in life require such fitness. 

I finished the Ealing Half Marathon in 2015 with so much time to spare that I ended up being a spectator in the same race I had just competed in. But still, this was not good enough to win it.

But What Can It Hurt?  

What can it hurt to maintain high levels of fitness? As my life has become temporarily easier, since I have been removed by circumstances from my natural environment, it has become difficult to live up to the spartan life inculcated in me from youth. But I am convinced..., no, I am hopeful that this easeful life is transient. I live in hopeful expectation of hardship again. 

Running in half marathons and marathons (as I am currently doing) has therefore become a way to fight back against a world that is determined to make men effeminate. The training before a race focuses your training as, ordinarily, it's very easy to find an excuse not go to the gym or not do a morning road run. But when you know that if you don't train you will fail, this then acts a spur to maintain training discipline.

The easeful life is really not for me.
There Is Also One More Reason: 

If you have your eyesight, a reasonably healthy heart, and all your limbs - in short, able bodied - is it not a form of thanksgiving to live an active life style; to not take for granted your circumstances? In my first year of secondary school, something happened that made me realise that good health is a privilege not a right. We played football at break time during the first week of school, finished the game, went back to our classes and went home and thought nothing of that short game we had played. But that same evening an ambulance was called to the house of one of our neighbours. One of the boys we had played football with, unbeknownst to himself or us, had a heart condition, and that exertion caused him to collapse. He died at Marondera General Hospital that same evening... 

So, if I were to give you the short answer to the question why I run, it would be: why not?

Video Essay: In Training For The Ealing Half Marathon:

The 2015 Ealing Half Marathon Photo Essay:

The goal

The race number


The Gym - daily routine.

The Gym - daily routine.

My running shirt - a special dedication to all those who serve the good of Zimbabwe.

The Gym - daily routine

When I can't make it to the gym - I hit the road

On receiving my running shoes!

5 Kilometres a day in preparation

7 Kilometres a day as race day nears!

Swimming pool on rest days from training.

The Gym - after training
 Travelling To Race Day:

Relaxing at Hyde Park Corner, London on the eve of race day.

Psyching myself up at Hyde Park Corner, London on the eve of race day.

The quiet before the storm. Slow walk in Hyde Park, London on the eve of race day.

Arriving at Ealing Broadway with great enthusiasm

Ealing Broadway for race day
Race Day: 

Race day breakfast

Start point

Arrival at Lammas Park, Ealing

The race course (map)

Getting ready


Very ready!

Last minute stuff for the others - I was already ready!

The die is cast!!

Look, a Superhero! Picture credit: Sussex Sports Photography.

Solid gold!


I made it!


The finishing line of the Ealing Half

Photo finish!
Photo finish!

First, Second and Third place men.

First place female.

There was only one winner in the race I was running

There was only one winner in the race I was running

There was only one winner in the race I was running

There was only one winner in the race I was running

Warm down!

Warm down!

Warm down!

There was only one winner in the race I was running.

There was only one winner in the race I was running.
The 12 Mile Marker - The point in this race where I nearly gave up. The other points where I nearly gave up are the 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 Mile Markers!

But, any race you can walk away from is a race well run!
But any race you can walk away from is a race well run!

Making new friends

Any race you can walk away from is a race well run!
Relaxing in my bed after race day