Last night was magical. Many of the residents of Pierre van Ryneveldt Park in Centurion lined the streets, gathered in knots around sizzling braais. Without a whisper of wind, we ran two laps through the streets beneath a star impregnated sky.
What more could one want from life?
Main picture: The road through Death Valley, USA
To this day, I can still recall when I first heard this haunting melody by Louis Armstrong. In all likelihood the reason why I can still recollect this moment so vividly is because it evokes memories of incessant pelting rain. The song, the magazine on WW2 that I was reading, and the dark foreboding sky, are all inextricably linked.
This day was the 1st September 1968, the day of the raging floods in Port Elizabeth.
These pictures evoke the same memories and evince the same response
Main picture: Jet wash in the morning mist
Mercifully for South Africans, it has not been a year filled with overwhelming tragedy. Rather it has been a year when the shameless deeds of the political elite and their patronage clients have cast shame on the citizens of this fair land. From Nkandla to the crony enrichment scheme proposed by Dudu Myeni of SAA, moral turpitude has been exposed at every turn. The selfless actions of Nhlanhla Nene gave South African pause to reflect that a few – too few perhaps – are prepared to act without fear or favour in South Africa. Even though this act is widely regarded as worthy of the highest recognition, Nene will not be the subject of this year’s award.
This is the season of the year to celebrate a random act of kindness. This selfless act is an inspiring story of compassion, the more so when the benefactor need not have been as magnanimous or generous.
Whenever there is the passing of a friend, an acquaintance or a family member this topic comes to mind. In this case it was learning of the death of a hiking acquaintance from 25 years ago: Dick Wassenaar.
What will the wider world remember of one’s own passing? Probably nothing unless one were a celebrity or famous in some way. At best, as in Dick’s case, it is one lonely paragraph on the Internet.
Main picture: These homemade and handheld ‘pistol fireworks’ are used at the Gion Matsuri festival at the Yoshida Shrine in Toyohashi City, Japan
Of course manners do too, and so do a multitude of other attributes such as behaviour and vanity. We could make a case for any one of them being equally important but I contend that despite their being important, attitude occupies the number one position.
Why would I assert that attitude is the numero uno attribute which determines one’s future? We have all worked or dealt with “difficult” people, people who take umbrage at whatever one says or does that is contrary to their world view. Of course they may well be correct about certain aspects of life due to their perspicacity but definitely not about everything.
We all make To-Do Lists of chores that have to be performed but what about making a separate to-do list except that this list would comprise all of the emotional, life skills, moral and psychological aspects of one’s life. Don’t these aspects deserve to be focused on as well, instead of merely the material and physical aspects?
Main picture: One easily identifies obnoxious or inappropriate behaviour in others but overlooks it in oneself
What is the purpose of a to-do list? It reminds us not to forget about doing certain things during the day. One periodically retrieves the list and mentally ticks off what has already been accomplished. In my case, I will physically scratch off what I have completed. This provides me with a sense of achievement, of accomplishment and a mental boost by knowing what progress that I have made.
Sometimes one is able assist another person immeasurably even though that act of kindness was insignificant in itself. It might not have saved a life or been as dramatic as the rescue of an animal in distress, but that act of kindness could mean more than life itself to that recipient.
In this case it was a New York Taxi Driver who as an occupation is not normally known for their patience and tolerance. This incident probably meant more to this doddering old woman than anything else in the past ten years of her life.
I was in the process of writing today’s blog entitled Mampara of the Year when I came across a feel-good story on the internet. I then changed my focus. Whereas I could easily write the article on the Mampara without even using the Internet, an article on good news stories, especially those that would resonate with me, would be a far harder task.
Many of these did – I admit – bring a tear to my eye. Imagine a world without caring people such as these. Human kindness is a virtue to be celebrated yet none of these people performed these acts of kindness for monetary or other reward. Instead the reward was visceral, an internal recompense.
Have you ever considered why life is not a bland monotone? Imagine for a minute if it were. How boring would life be! Rather it comprises the strident highs of a tweeter and the thumping lows of a bass. It is the opposites and their interaction that makes life sweeter.
Switch on one’s favourite melody and close your eyes. Let the sound flow over and through you. One is enraptured by the interplay of the various components – the lead with its highs, the bass with its lows, the keyboards with its melody and the drums with its beat.
Main photograph: A bamboo forest in China
Is life just a turn of the cards or a throw of the dice? In a large measure it is. Flip through the Rolodex of one’s life and cast one’s mind back how pure luck or blind chance determined which fork on the path of life that one took.
How did I decide to become a Chartered Accountant? It was certainly not a logical decision where all the options available to me were considered in a measured way with all the pros and cons carefully laid-out.