Monday Musings 14 September: “Now we know, we’re all we’ve got.”

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In Ad Astra, a little-known space themed film, Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), an experienced astronaut, must embark on a mission to find his father, Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), who disappeared years earlier whilst on a project to discover alien life.

The mission is both technical and personal. Roy must not only find his father, a detached figure largely responsible for shaping the man he’s become, but also to stop the recent power surges coming from Neptune that threaten life on Earth.

As the main character, Roy is introduced as a workaholic who shuns personal connections, neglects his wife, and although portrayed as apathetic and uninterested in humanity, he has begun to realise that his job is making him feel emptier by the day.

Ultimately (sorry, spoiler alert), he does find his father, an aloof and broken man more obsessed with finding new life rather than returning to Earth with his son. As the two clash on the outskirts of Neptune, Roy pleads with him and in his desperation utters the most astute words:

Now we know, we’re all we’ve got.

This is where the film touches on an essential truth as we continue on the road to recovery: no one is coming to save us, and no one will give us all the answers.

Earth exploration

Much like Roy’s own voyage into deep space to find his father, the journey we have all been on over the last 171 days has also been filled with challenges. We too have ventured into the unknown, braving feelings of isolation, but also gaining a conception of what it looks like to genuinely care for one another—to take greater care of each other, ourselves, and the resources we still have here on Earth. The proudly South African documentary, My Octopus Teacher, premiered on Netflix last week and homes in on this point. It chronicles the relationship between the film’s protagonist, Craig Foster, and a strange, alien-like creature that most of us have only ever considered as a main course at Ocean Basket.

It has been racking up various award nods and is a wonderful example of our country’s incredible talents and stories (not to mention the beauty around us).

Monday Musings 14 September: “Now we know, we're all we've got.” 1

When it comes to feel-good projects to preserve our wildlife, the Singita Lowveld Trust is supporting their 24/7 anti-poaching scouts with a K9 Anti-Poaching Unit in Singita Sabi Sand. As part of their project in the Singita Grumeti area, in Tanzania, Tony, Popo, DJ and Radar have proved to be good boys, becoming some of the bravest doggos in the African wild.

In times of uncertainty, animals never fail to keep us inspired or amused. For those yet to snap up their post-lockdown holiday somewhere remote and otherworldy, here’s a line up of the recent finalists for the 2020 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

#SouthAfricaisTravelReady member, Amy Knight-Dawson also touched on some introspective points in her recent article bringing awareness to the future of tourism conservation and the importance of our natural environment.

On the back of the successful #IAMTOURISM campaign, the PR collective remains hard at work lobbying for a re-opening of our borders and will be hosting their next Tourism Tuesday discussion tomorrow at 17h00 with the topic: “Airbridge over troubled waters”. Save your spot here.

One giant leap for mankind

Statistics South Africa announced that the second-quarter GDP fell 16,4% (that’s 51% annualised rate if the economy continues on this course—a figure that was slightly misrepresented last week). However, it is important to bear in mind that the second quarter of the year included the months April, May and June when the country’s strictest lockdown measures were in place and the third quarter could look very different.

So, when will tourism resume? It is not yet written in the stars, but over last week, seven-day cumulative COVID-19 cases were reduced by 12%. If the current trajectory is maintained, South Africa could move through amber and green risk alert levels before the end of the month! For a better understanding, you can view the stats here.

Switzerland also officially removed South Africa from the list of risk countries (quarantine on return) due to the low number of cases. And even scientists are highlighting that there is no reason to keep inbound tourism closed as discussed in this interview with Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).

We’ve noticed a recent flurry of media articles highlighting South Africa’s readiness. Professor Alex van den Heever from the Wits School of Governance even had his say on the current border closure stating, “There’s no reason why tourism poses a greater risk than any other sector by being open,” and we couldn’t agree more.

Monday Musings 14 September: “Now we know, we're all we've got.” 2

Ad astra, meaning “to the stars”

Here on the ground, a new online system has now launched to make it easier for the 5 000 tourist guides in the Western Cape to register, while in the air, Fastjet Zimbabwe finalised its plans for the recommencement of its domestic flights between Harare and Bulawayo and Harare and Victoria Falls. This follows the re-opening of domestic flights on 10 September.

If all goes according to plan, South Africa could see a new airline launch in a few months’ time as a result of a joint venture between founder Gideon Novick, and Global Aviation. The plan is initially to start on the Johannesburg-Cape Town route, but what we’re wondering is if they’d let the internet vote on a name for it…anyone remember the Boaty McBoatface fiasco? 

One South African-Canadian who we simply can’t forget to mention in this space-travel themed Monday Musings is Elon Musk. If anyone doubts that the SpaceX Falcon9 Launcher is short of amazing, here‘s a reminder of its perfect launch and landing. Keep an eye out for the engraving on its panel: “Made on Earth by Humans”.

On the topic of Elon-inspired levels of productivity and reaching for the stars, our very own Babajide Olowookere has also been thinking about our ability to produce excellence. Here are his 4 ways you can develop your voice and push boundaries. This Harvard Business Review article also offers some interesting solutions for teams struggling to stay connected whilst working from home.

Struggling to get started on your day-to-day tasks? Try Mel Robbins’ 5-second rule which had her launching out of bed like a rocket, and taking accountabliltiy for her life in just 5,4,3,2,1! But as we juggle our busy schedules during the week ahead, here’s a great quote to keep in mind from Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul:

In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience.

Stay safe & strong!

The Big Ambitions team