After the chances for Mtuseni doing a radio internship in time to graduate in July were looking mighty grim, he got a surprise callback from a station manager after an interview that didn’t sound promising. Last week he started interning at Kasie FM, a community radio station south of Johannesburg. It’s a long haul from his home — requiring three minibus taxis and two hours each way. He spends more time commuting than he does at the station. Working the afternoon drive-time shift, he barely makes it back to catch the last taxi home, which means I’ll be worried every Monday through Friday for the next six weeks. It’s autumn in South Africa, it’s already dark by six o’clock, and the area is not very safe.
But Mtuseni is in a radio station! He’s still doing typical intern errand tasks but is asking lots of questions and soaking up knowledge. And thankfully he’s out of the house! After three years of school in bustling Sandton, he was going bonkers in the settlement. He gets so bored and cranky on breaks from school that I think he actually changes the local weather patterns! And with coursework all completed, this was a permanent break.
Meanwhile, I’ve been busy rewriting the proposal for the Long-Distance Dad book. It’s torturous and invigorating and stressful and fun all at the same time: the usual twisted experience for a writer. I do know the book is gonna be good; this blog has only captured a small portion of our adventure.
Mtuseni and I have long talked about our hopes and dreams for the future: Him working in a major radio station and inspiring listeners to improve the world — and me sharing our story in books and media and inspiring others to somehow connect with kids who need a little love and support. While these goals aren’t impossible to achieve, they are somewhat lofty and a bit daunting. In situations like these, I always return to this Thoreau quote that resonated with me way back in college.
Individually and together Mtuseni and I have built our castles in the air. And as he grinds through a tough commute to his internship and I churn through endless revisions of my book proposal — we’re laying the foundations for them.
If you don’t aim high, you’ll never know how far you can go. Just be prepared to do the work to get there.