In 2021 Ruan Van Rensburg, Writer, Rugby Player, Critical Thinker, and Friend of the Bear (in no specific order, and among other roles) dropped into our inbox to enquire about having custom printing done with BRAVER for a passion project of his own.
Over the years I have developed a friendship with Ruan. We have had many thought provoking conversations that naturally stemmed from both having an appreciation, respect and passion for movement
Ruan has a way of viewing the world that I have a great appreciation for. He is deeply curious that which is around him and I am drawn to his writings as they have such a rawness to them.
Earlier this year I asked Ruan if he would consider being a guest writer for Braver. He submitted The Man in the Mirror, an essay that has in turn sparked an in-motion journey to creating a collection by collaborating with Ruan. While we hack away and unravel what that is going to be exactly, here is the essay he wrote for us, enjoy - Astrid
The Man in the Mirror
I look in the mirror and I’m disgusted by what I see. Disappointed in the man who made those decisions. Angry for allowing the surrounding mediocrity to shape my world. Ashamed at how little I have to show for all those labours. For all this effort. At 30, I wanted to be in the best shape of my life. A fragile shoulder, a torn hip, and a some sort of tear in my knee has lead to the complete opposite.
No matter which method I employ, it never leads to the ‘acceptance’ I so yearn for. Not to be accepted by this world nor those around me. I care not for their opinions. But an acceptance of reality. To recognize it for what it is, and to move beyond the point of dissatisfaction. Even when it ‘goes well’, I am unsatisfied. How could one be satisfied living so far below one’s own potential?
I set out to write something positive and uplifting, but it would be false and dishonest. Writing demands honesty and truth. If it’s not true and honest then it’s worthless.
The razor drags steadily across an aging face. You are no longer a young man with his entire career ahead of him. These cheek-bones have become more prominent. You’ve never known poverty. But this life, once filled with excess and promise, has been stripped down to the bare minimum.
I cut away at the unnecessary, more than most do, recognizing the need to strip away the pretence and the incomplete. I remain hard on myself, as one should be. “You are where you deserve to be,” I say. But those are only words. I don’t know if I believe them. I am a ghost roaming empty streets, searching for the unattainable, hungering for the unobtainable. Waiting to be sent back from whence I came.
I long for greatness, and refuse to settle for anything less. But in time, allowing for enough failure, one begins to negotiate. And I am the king of failure. There exists no venture, no project, no business in which I have found success. It takes courage to try, and to continue trying. However courage is often the trait of fools. It may be that greater courage would be the willingness to let go when the time comes. Nevertheless, I refuse. I choose to remain vulnerable. With a defiance and hope that continued persistence against these omnipotent forces, so seemingly against us, will at long last triumph.
I am tired of my life and my habits, so I set out to change them. I am kind when I need to be, and harsh when necessary. A revolution of the mind and the body. This, in due course, leads to the same place. Failure is life, isn’t it? We live until, in the end, our body fails us.
Life, I suppose, is what we do between the failures. Our reaction and conduct in spite of these set-backs. To accept our place in the universe and its chaos. To settle for our role in this comedy. And one could settle; certainly no shame in that. It takes great strength and grit to submit to our journey. To forgo all control, or rather the illusion thereof.
The razor cuts deep and true. The man in the mirror, devoid of all hope, looks back at me without remorse. Hope, what is that anyway? An unnecessary distraction. We don’t need it. All we need is this breath and the next. Intention and then action. Rebellion and a willingness to endure the intolerable. An iron will, and the unrelenting defiance to never accept the outcome as final. Not until our final breath. And just like that we have gone from birth to death to rebirth. A never ending cycle. The man in the mirror never lies. He knows all and sees all. There’s no hiding from him, and as long as he is willing to endure so am I.
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning. ” ― Louis L’Amour
The Man in the Mirror, written by Ruan Van Rensburg
Where to find Ruan
+ On Medium for his writing: Rebellious Repetition
+ IG: @rebellious_repetition where you'll find in his bio a very real description of this human "Don't follow me. I'm lost too"