… I’m Toad, of Toad Hall.

Instead of the usual benign reading that is mandatory for business management undergraduates I would, if given the opportunity, propose the biography of Rupert Murdoch by William Shawcross as a necessity. I first read it many, many years ago as I’ve always admired the man but it wasn’t until my recent foray into publishing did some of it become relevant. The set-back of a certain financial turnaround and recovery plan also made it more personal too. Just as NewsCorp teetered in 1991 like a cartoon character on the precipice of the abyss, a company that I was a shareholder of slowly disintegrated similarly last year.

From the outset it should be noted that the convolution of bad-luck all seemed to hit at once which crippled an already unstable but profitable company. It’s amazing what a client’s default of R7, 8-million rand can do to a company’s cash-flow! And while I shouldn’t compare skilled and semi-skilled workers to rats – the analogy seems appropriate – because as the ship hit choppy waters they all bailed overboard and looked for other jobs elsewhere. A company that is built on these kinds of men finds it hard to meet project deadlines and so spirals further downwards. By the time I was roped in to help sort out the problem, amputation was inevitable.

Topping this was my ending of a relationship. And so after assessing what little assets I had left, not forgetting my dignity, I realised I would have to change my lifestyle. So here I was, a 30-yrs old single gay man with no financial security but many life experiences behind me. Did that mean nothing? After all, heartbreaks and break-ups are the hardest kind of worth so shouldn’t there be some credit for enduring them? And if not, how do you retain a sense of value when you have nothing concrete to show for it? Because at the end of yet another failed relationship – when all you have are war wounds and self-doubt you have to wonder – what’s it all worth?

As pessimistic as that may sound, and I have been accused of that a few times in the past few months by friends long since forgotten, it seems appropriate at this moment. With no other desire than to connect on a personal level my only contact with the outside world is professional. And while that is at least something, the words that I wish I could say out loud are drowned in the silent screams of everything not being spoken. I am clinched by my own failure as the mirage of success shimmers in a fragile moonlight. I look at the past and wonder how in moving full circle I didn’t learn the things that seemed so important the last time around.

The coming two weeks are literally going to be a make or break situation for me both professionally and privately. To not admit that the fear of failure inside almost cripples me would seem a little too cavalier but the fear of not at least going out there and trying to recover seems almost as terrifying. I guess that the same could be said for love and relationships. We tend not to want to go out there and fall in love because we’re afraid of getting hurt. So instead we fill our lives up with things that don’t seem important at the time but really are. Because in life sometimes you win or lose the cards dealt out – but you will always have a handful of friends on which you can count.

And that’s got to be worth something right?


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