Sky falls on Cerberus

Cerberus, the multi-headed dog that guards the Underworld and the couch against builders and burglars. Picture: Bibi Saint-Pol wikimedia

Cerberus, the multi-headed dog that guards the Underworld and the couch against builders and burglars. Picture: Bibi Saint-Pol wikimedia

Published Jun 30, 2024


Durban — It finally happened ‒ the sky fell on our heads.

As with so many of life’s trials, the anticipation of the calamity was far scarier than the actual event.

Once we’d all recovered from terror at the very loud noise of the ceiling dropping in, we gingerly went to examine the damage, then returned in various stages of fright to the (still-ceilinged) couch. When the rubble had dried up after a couple of days, we swept it up and averted our eyes.

The little rain on the weekend just wet our floor tiles. We can’t wait for free summer showers.

It’s the monkeys’ fault. This part of the roof has served for years as their highway to the back yard jungle where there is plenty for them to forage on. The dogs go crazy, the monkeys go wild and there’s a cacophony of barks for the duration. The arrangement works though: there’s no need for them to raid the house (I suspect it keeps them out of my neighbours’ homes as well) when there’s so much natural food about.

This pathway rattled the roof tiles a bit and the rain began to seep in and settle on one panel. It wasn’t near any power source, so it became one of those constant back-of-mind niggles. The problem of fixing it was way more overwhelming than watching it spread along that one panel: builders. More specifically, builders and six dogs.

Builders always tell you they’ll have the job done in hours or days or a week. Never believe a builder’s timing: hours turn to days to weeks to months. We once did a two-room extension that turned from a promised six weeks to more than six months. It was a flipping dirty, noisy, frustrating, very costly lesson and an oath was sworn: never again.

And we only had two dogs back then, neither of whom wanted to eat anyone who even walked by on the other side of the street.

Our current pack has all the welcoming features of Cerberus, the multi-headed hound of Hades who keeps mortals out of the Underworld in Greek mythology.

They would have to be locked up in my bedroom every day for the duration so they don’t eat the builders. I sometimes imagine an opportunistic burglar breaking in through the roof tiles, dangling from a beam with nothing between him and six sets of snarling, spittle-flecked gnashers.

Thankfully, the missing panel is in a part of the house that is not within immediate sight, so the fuhgeddaboudit principle works. You know that one? Identify a problem, ask yourself if you can fix or change it, it you can’t, find a way to work around it or fuhgeddaboudit.

If you don’t think this works. Here’s a test.

Last year (or month or week), you probably lay awake at night, stressed and anxious about a Big Problem. Can you remember what it was? We rest our case.

Here’s another. Go through your emails, even just one week after you got them. See all the ones you kept because you knew you’d have to go back to them to fix or find a solution but you moved onto the next one? Then you fuhgoddaboudit. And time took care of it, one way or another.

There are things you need to act on, immediately. Others sort themselves out, even if at first glance you believe you have to DO something urgently (usually because URGENT appears somewhere in the subject line). Binning all those mini-panic mails is exceptionally liberating.

Most times the sky won’t actually fall on your head or, if it does, it will turn out to be less of a catastrophe than you imagine.

Independent on Saturday

Related Topics:

natural disaster