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To Live and not Just Exist

Choosing life, happiness, peace and joy. Oh and weight loss too

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Cape Town

The Small Things

Sjoe, I have been gone a while.
Thing happened. Reality shifted. Time passed.
And here we are.
Life has this really annoying and occasionally cool habit of throwing stuff back in your face. At your lowest, or your highest, or somewhere in between. A little memory. A little song. A little blog.
A little bit of God.
I forget sometimes how far I have come. How hard this road was to travel. Sometimes I traveled it alone. Sometimes with family. Sometimes with friends. I have written before about being the Black Sheep. About being the Fat Chick.
Reality is – we are who we are in the moment. As kind or vicious, as generous or selfish, as alive or dead, as happy or sad. All we have is a moment. Because the next moment may be a life ender. Or a reality shifter.
In a moment, a Blessed moment, I walked into a gym with a little bit of hope. And I met a lovely lady who runs a gym, a lady of passion and laughter.
In a moment, an Inspired moment, I faced a lifetime of fears around what I look like. Around inherent sporting ability. And I thought screw it. I joined a gym.
In a moment, a Divine moment, I remembered that even though it is hard. I really do like exercising. I am crap at it. But that doesn’t change the Joy.
I have written before about finding Joy in the small things.
Sometimes the small things are the ache that comes from 18 flights of stairs.
The laughter that comes with trying to skip.
The giggle that accompanies a burpee done in the style of a deranged alien.
Sometimes the small things are driving on a farm road at 5 in the morning. In the mist.

Just you and your God.

Sometimes the small things are realising that you came from here….

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And you have gotten here so far…..

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With a whole world still to go…..

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A rant at anarchy

So…

The 4 biggest cities in South Africa just made it onto the list of the 50 Most Dangerous Cities in the World.
9. Cape Town
41. Durban
42. Nelson Mandela Bay
47. Johannesburg.

I am completely and utterly horrified that even one of our fabulous cities makes the list, never mind 4.

It caused a little chain reaction in my brain. And something that has been bothering me for a long time now, decided it needed to be written about. Because they relate on a fundamental level.

I drive into Cape Town at about 05h30 every week day morning. That is the only way to miss the chaos that is N1 traffic.

There is a little bit of highway, at the off-ramp to the M5, that suddenly drops from 120km/h to 80km/h. It doesn’t matter why. Or who decided it. Or whether I agree or not. It is what it is. This little stretch of road is notoriously well known as being a trapping hotspot.

Except at 05h30 in the morning obviously.

So I should put a little context in here. I have car insurance with Discovery Health. In order for me to maximize the cash back I get every month, I trend to drive as well as I possibly can. Obeying all the rules of speeding, harsh acceleration, cornering.

I like money. And smoothies (new driving reward). So I drive appropriately.

Another little bit of essential information. I suspect that quite a few traffic officers report for duty at 06h00, or thereabouts, at a traffic department in Town. Because every morning I see at least 2 traffic officers on the N1, heading into Town.

I have yet to ever (and I really do mean ever – in all the time I have been driving to work in Town) see one drop his speed to 80 in the 80 zone. They all merrily maintain their speed, whatever it may be.

Perhaps I am being petty. Perhaps I too would not drop my speed if I didn’t get money back. Perhaps. Perhaps.

All I know is this.

When did we stop holding those tasked with upholding our laws accountable?

Is the message being sent not one of:

‘If I know I am not going to get caught, it is ok to break the law?’

‘If I am not yet on duty, I don’t have to follow or enforce the law?’

‘I am a traffic officer, so I am above the law?’

All I know is that our country is bleeding. There is no accountability anymore. There is no morality anymore. There is something very close to situational anarchy. I will do as I please because I probably won’t get caught.

This is beyond race. Beyond colour. Beyond economics. Beyond it all.

It is fundamentally about right and wrong.

It is a traffic officer speeding with impunity at 05h30 in the morning, on a stretch of highway he will probably set up a speed trap on in a few hours. After his coffee. And breakfast.

But what has he taught every single person who sees him in the morning. Consciously or not.

That it is okay to break the law when it suits you.

And I am also in no way trying to excuse the folks who do chose to break the law. Whichever law it may be. Small, or big.

You have to live with your own conscience and at the end of the day, you and your conscience have to be okay with the choices you make.

Whether you stand in a uniform and are supposed to uphold, and by default obey, a law, or in civilian clothing and chose to ignore a law.

Part of why South Africa has 4 cities on the list of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world?

Because no one gives a fuck anymore.

Until it suits them.

I saw Faith today.

Once upon a while ago, I am certain I saw Grace.

And today, I saw Faith.

I get into Town really early in the mornings, in part to miss the madness that is rush hour traffic in Cape Town but also so that I can do my daily exercise. I walk various routes around our beautiful city and due to the very nature of the time, I get to see allot of the homeless.

Mostly still asleep. Some just barely awake and perhaps wondering why they bothered. Some, like a rather well-known figure along Adderley Street, having a bath in the fountain.

My city could be any city. Homelessness is not unique to Africa. It is not unique to this city. It is everywhere. And it is heartbreaking.

As is the nature of humanity, we desensitize. After a while, you don’t notice the sadness or loss or pain or fear anymore. You don’t hear the voices. Worst of all, you don’t see the person anymore. They are just one more thing in a landscape of things.

That being said – I love my country. I love this place I live. Not because I have to. But because it is me, and I am it. So I try to keep my heart and my mind and my soul open to the beauty. To the hope. To the joy. But also to the faults. To the corrupt. To the bits that are broken. No one thing is ever perfect. And, as with so very many things, sometimes the bits that matter the most are the bits that can’t be seen.

Today was a good walk. I missioned along a route I don’t usually take. Past the taxi’s and the vendors.

Past the station and the folks slowly making their way to work.

Past the doormen and street sweepers.

To the most amazing sight I have seen in a while. Another one of those moments when time stops a bit. Reality becomes thick and amplified and loud.

Many of the homeless get a meal from one of the many shelters or soup kitchens around town. It is usually a styrofoam bowl of maize and a jam sarmie. I have even on occasion seen them munching happily on a bowl of rice.

Today was a happy walk. Singing under my breath to Katy Perry’s Dark Horse. Happily smiling and appreciating the weather. Greeting the folk that crossed my path.

Only to walk past an obviously homeless man with the most magnificent grey and silver beard.

Saying his Grace before tucking into his breakfast.

We may lose our way. We may lose our family, our joy, our jobs. We may lose ourselves.

Never lose your Faith.

Because where there is Faith, there is Hope. And Hope is where God lives. Hope for something better. Hope for peace. Hope for love. Hope for another meal.

Hope for that silver bearded homeless man who still found space in his Soul for Faith.

He will never know how much he Blessed me. I will most likely never see him again. But he showed more Faith and Hope in one moment than many people have in their entire lives.

Sometimes the bits that matter the most really are the bits that can’t be seen.

It is not what you own in this life.

It is how you conduct yourself in this life.

That man, that homeless soul.

He was Beautiful.

He was Gods perfect creation.

I saw Grace today.

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I have learnt to Mission when I am walking through Town. Head down, don’t look around, don’t look like a tourist.

The faces I pass very much a blur. Then again they are meant to be. I try my utmost to miss the long desperate stares of the homeless, the destitute, the beggars and the hopeless. This is not something I do with any kind of conscious thought. It is just the reality involved with moving around a city or town in the age and time we live.

Many of them with an out of control drug problem. Most of them with some serious mental illness issues. Too few of them completely harmless.

Today I passed a homeless soul early in the cold sunlight, wrapped in a blanket rocking back and forth.

I didn’t really register him. Or her. I don’t know. I Missioned.

Today I passed a vaguely homeless looking man, older, face lined.

Today, for some reason, I Missioned and then I stopped and turned around.

I registered the pipe, the satchel, the old but clean clothing. I realized that the older man was probably one of the many low income workers making their way to work. Or perhaps he was one of those folk that travel to Town and pass their day watching and walking before heading home.

Today, I saw something that profoundly touched me on a level that I don’t quite understand. Or perhaps I do. It reminded me of what it is to be Human.

It was the oddest thing that I have seen in so long that for a moment sound faded away into nothing and time slowed just a little.

Reaching out and in, this clearly poor but gentle gentleman laid his hand on the shoulder of the all too faceless beggar.

Said a few words.

Reached into his satchel and offered an orange.

And sat next to him.

I don’t think I have ever seen more of God than at that moment. When a stranger touched that filthy, forgotten, helpless, cold soul. When he touched the untouchable. When he reached out to someone I don’t even register on most days.

When all the compassion of one Soul reached out to another, and didn’t see filth, dirt, madness. He saw a Soul worthy of his time. His love.

Compassion, Love, Humanity, Empathy – it is all free. But so many of us find them an expense we are not willing to shoulder.

In reality, all we have in this world is the gift of human contact, sometimes in the midst of desperation.

I know I saw the gift of Grace today – in the face of a stranger.

It is perhaps the most important thing we come into this world with.

And I hope it is what I take out with me.

I think I saw God today.

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