Do you miss your youth or the years gone past? I am 48 years old this year and I feel 48 too. People will tell you that age is in your mind and for a large part it is. I still remember myself with hair (gosh) and a six pack in the stomach area (a big thank you to my old drill sergeant for his lack of humour). And then one day you look in the mirror and see the age in your eyes. Life finally got the better of you.
Yes, I took that second from last sentence from an old country song called “Amanda” by the great Don Williams and now it is stuck in my head for the rest of the day. And no, I have never met any Amanda and never dated anyone with that name unless she misspoke on introduction so I cannot miss what never was But it reminded me of the years gone by. The other day I was asked if I want to attend a 30 year reunion of leaving school. No, I have no desire to see who is fat, rich or broke and have three kids with eleven grand kids. I don’t care, I moved on and so it is. In fact I would be very hard pressed to even recognise my school mates and there are a few teachers I will probably punch in the face if I see them. It is better to stay away.
I wonder, do you also at times think back and see the much younger you with stars in the eyes (no age, my word, just hope for love an adventure) and how you will change the legal profession and whatever else you wanted to do? I am not overly ambitious and actually laid back most of the time. Since Melissa went to heaven I despise people whose entire life is about money, cars and enjoying life without a care in the world. It is sad though that studies show us clearly, there is no doubt, that atheists do more for their fellow man than so called Christians. And I use the words “so called” because it comes down to your fruit does it not? “Show me the money” some actor in the nineties roared from the big screen. These days I say the same. “Show me your good deeds” not because it will save you, it won’t but it indicates to me where on the level of shysters you are.
I receive many letters from readers all over the world asking questions I am certainly not trained to answer. They had read my books and they see the man inside the books and I suppose they like what they saw. However, as any former policeman will tell you, degrees are seldom the same as wisdom. It is the school of hard knocks which gives you the ability to talk sense to some and to anger others beyond belief with the same sentence. That is why I like talking to old people. You can learn from them and you can learn from history.
When you are young you are invincible. Of course, you realise that you can be shot or blown up but that happens to other lads, not you. And when you look back you count many times when you should have died and did not. Why is that? Why are some people called home before others? What possible use can you have that God let you stay on? We say that God takes the prettiest flowers first. Yes, it helps to think like that when you are broken and alone but there is more to it. Much more and I don’t have the answers, only God does. Yet I am asked this at least once a week by a grieving widow who read my books on relationships and death. Whilst I cannot answer I do know one thing…while you are in this miserable planet and passing through you better use your time wisely. Getting so deep into debt that you cannot sleep, cannot stop working all hours and in the end have to steal is not what God wanted for you. No, that comes from the devil himself.
In the corporate legal world there are many ways to steal money. You simply overcharge on your hours. Or you give bad legal advice (you can get away with such things very easily – see my book Tricks of Trade – Memories of a Rogue Lawyer) to let the client pay for a case you know he will not and cannot win. And so you descent into a life of office, cheating, sleeping, eating and wasting time and it is done in all professions. You don’t need a degree to be dishonest, that smirking car salesman who tells you the car belonged to an old granny who sure as hell looks like a young man of twenty two, yeah, dishonesty. The mechanic who tells a widow or old lady the car needs this or that and it does not, yeah, dishonesty. I am at the stage where I say to a client, if you see a new business partner with the Bible under the arm, run away. He is going to cheat you. If you see him arriving with the Bible and his son in tow, man, shoot the bastards at sight, they have a nasty act going.
I became cynical and stopped believing as I once did. I am also on record I have no feelings of patriotism in me. That went at the TRC hearings when I saw the Security Forces that I was part off for six long years sold out by cowardly politicians who could not beg hard enough for pensions. Yep, the old “voetewassertjies” (Afrikaans, to wash someone’s feet) who once said to me “If you know what operations we have going, you would be proud.” Yeah, I am not proud and I hold such people who only beg when the heat is on them in contempt. What else? Oh, when you see the waste of money and corruption and hear the disrespect of the police and the army who is now heading the list for raping females when on UN duties. At some stage, you cannot defend the indefensible. Oddly enough, I said this many times too, you cannot defend Apartheid and you cannot defend what is happening right now either. I won’t even try. I am not smart enough to lie so openly and get away with it. I rather smile cynically and see the age in my eyes when I do so.
Yeah, I miss my youth. At least I was full of dreams then of a wife and perhaps a kid or two, the old house and camping under the African stars. I have no such dreams left. It reminds me of that old liberal Bruce Springsteen, My Home Town, “I'm thirty-five we got a boy of our own now, Last night I sat him up behind the wheel and said son take a good look around, This is your hometown.” But you know what, I am way past 35 too and I was 17 when the song was released. I thought 35 were terribly old. It is funny, don’t you think?
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a practicing commercial law attorney for eight years. He also wrote several books on business, law, counter terrorism and security issues. He is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.