Life is all about Priorities

This maxim is also a truism. Some objectives might be possible to achieve  whereas others are merely a figment of somebody’s overactive imagination. Whatever it is, once one becomes fixated on that goal, life has a way of opening doors. In reality, one becomes “lucky” not in the sense that opportunities are presented to one but rather those that one seizes what to the average person is not an opportunity.

Firstly I will deal with some examples from my personal life; then I will present some more extreme examples which take the notion of an alternative lifestyle to a whole new level.

Main picture: Is this how you would like to spend the rest of your life? Either earn pots of money or, failing that, become a ski instructor

The first two examples illustrate a more benign form of priority. Nevertheless they highlight the power of goals. Let me call the first person James. James and I were articled clerks together at Price Waterhouse in Port Elizabeth. A defining trait of James was his quest to take out the cutest more beautiful girls. He had a vast array, a wide choice available. Being an articled clerk moving from client to client, there was always “fresh stock” to be surveyed every month except that there was flaw in James’ thinking. It would not be a gross understatement to claim that James was the not the tastiest nor prettiest sweet in the pack. In polite company he would be called pulchritudinally challenged. In less sensitive company he would be referred to as ugly.

Priorities in life#1

In spite of James never receiving a positive response to his request about a date, this did not discourage or deter James in any way. Instead it seemed to stir his determination to greater heights as he cogitated on why his approach was not bearing fruit. On my first trip back to Port Elizabeth after relocating to Joburg, I went to reacquaint myself with him. Who should James introduce me to as his wife, a stunning blond! Like chalk and cheese. They claim that opposites attract; but this was like positive and negative poles. Was it a stroke of improbable good luck or was it his priority or goal which made this match possible.

In Janine’s case it was school friend who always boasted that she would marry a rich doctor. Ultimately she married a plastic surgeon.

Priorities in life#2

The next example is not what I would want to refer to as a running friend but rather as a running acquaintance. Xavier could not be classified as patrician in outlook. Bohemian would be a more accurate classification of his ilk. Xavier is – how shall I delicately put it – different. For some unfathomable reason, he has to do everything – well – differently. For instance he will never pin his race number on straight as every other runner would. Rather he will pin it on at an angle so that it forms a diamond shape. Clearly he possesses a phobia about rectangles.

Flouting norms with disdain can sometimes be endearing. For instance during the Dawn to Dusk 12 hours race from sun rise to sun set – hence Dawn to Dusk for the edification of those who did not click – one is presented with two options. One can either run a minimum of 80kms by oneself or alternatively run with a partner. In this case, the two man team must complete a minimum of 80 kms. The split is irrelevant. The norm is to split it 50:50 meaning that each would run 40kms. If one partner was significantly stronger than the other, the one team member might run more than 40kms but the other would run at least 40kms.

Priorities in life#3

Breaking with tradition – as is Xavier wont – he would do it his way. His running partner would be his invalid mother of 75 years old. How was that possible? In a dramatic gesture, Xavier would run 79 kms & then for the 80th lap or kilometre – one lap equalling one kilometre – Xavier would push his mother around the course in her wheelchair.

Talk about displaying an air of disdain for convention.

Priorities in life#4

Nowhere did the rules preclude this.

As such, Xavier and his mother were valid finishers with his mother receiving her medal for her sterling efforts at completing the Dawn to Dusk.

In society’s conservative conformity, such behaviour and attitudes usually cast such adherents as anti-social. Some might well be anti-social but most merely possess an alternative view on how to conduct their lives. Cast in the role of iconoclasts all societal norms are cast aside.

After last year’s edition of the Dawn to Dusk, who should ask for a lift home afterwards but Xavier or Mr X as would record on his entry form? As Xavier would either have to walk home or hitch hike the 120kms from Acacia, north of Pretoria, to Roodepoort, I acceded to his request much to my chagrin.

Priorities in life#5

But what could I spend an hour discussing with Xavier on the way home? Certainly not luxury cars because Xavier only owned a bicycle. By occupation Xavier was a philatelist or stamp collector. When I suggested to Xavier that like a farrier or a coal miner in Lancaster, his “profession” would soon he extinct he was most offended.

I went for the jugular. I was brazen. What did I have to lose? He could either not reply or be straight with me. I enquired how much on average he earned per month. It was a paltry R 2 500.

I was flabbergasted.


Priorities in life#6

“Was it difficult to live on that?”


“What about rates and taxes?”

“Apply for exemption as I am indigent”

“What about medical treatment?

“Government hospitals”

On and on it went.

“Money is valueless”

“Eventually it will be worthless; then what will you buy with it?”

“Well I bought a 400 m2 house in Constantia Kloof and a BMW with that valueless money!”

“And I have a large screen HD TV!”

Priorities in life#7


“Who needs to watch TV?”

“It is all junk!”

The consequences are more profound than that. Xavier’s decisions have precluded his ever getting married and having a family. What about going overseas and running a marathon?

I could direct a welter of criticisms at Xavier’s life choices but who am I to judge him.

Priorities in life#8

The consequences of the moneyless Bohemian life style will be borne by him alone. The hallmark characterising such people is a truly unorthodox out-of-the-box thinking.

The differences in our life choices could not be more stark. Apart from a ranting about money and its worth, I could discern no ideological fanaticism as the bedrock to his beliefs. Rather it is borne from a deeply felt desire to be different and nothing less.

Priorities in life#10
Picture: Can I purchase one of these with my valueless money?

Both of us will remain steadfast in our beliefs about our life choices


I am comfortable in my large house and smart air-conditioned car.


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