It is my hope that putting this voice out into our world has value, not only for me, but for others, as well. I admit to sometimes entertaining dreams of it going viral, of infecting the world with my vision. But most of the time I am content to be motivated by Gandhi's assertion: whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Resolutions from paradise

The beginning of each new year offers a natural, little pause in which it is common to think about the coming year. We can make resolutions. We can set intentions. We can re-consider how we want to live, what we want to hope for, what we want to strive for.

Sometimes more significant events come along that break the everyday unfolding of daily routines, to bring clarity and a changed perspective. A near-death experience is said to be one such event. If that is so, then going beyond near-death, and all the way to paradise, like we did at the beginning of this year, must surely offer an amazing opportunity for renewing how we want to live into the rest of our lives.
Each day in paradise, this January,
we awoke to the sun rising straight from the ocean before us, to the unique tune of the earliest dawn chorus. We wandered along deserted, forest-fringed beaches, and grass-green rolling hills above the waves. We read our way through high piles of books that smelled of paper. We floated down warm, salty waves and up estuaries. We never travelled faster than the speed of our walking, we purchased nothing, and we didn't so much as glance at a screen. We played chess and we tried to fish. On the way in we drove through Qunu. I finally read Long Walk to Freedom. I read A New Earth for the third or fourth time. I read the inspiring collector's edition of the Big Issue, from cover to cover.

I feel like I have returned with some of the clarity of the sea running into the estuary over white sand on the incoming tide, with some of the perspective offered by long horizoned, cloud-patterned sunrises above a restless ocean. I feel I am ready for a new year.

There are three points that have been on my annual list of new year's intentions for the last several years. I implement them with mixed success, and so they remain on the list:

  • make choices with my time that bring value to every moment.
  • write more
  • climb more

Inspired by my experience of all that paradise held for us, I add these intentions, all tinged with its optimistic hues:

  • To treat the demands of life more like a Wild Coast sunrise.
  • To be awake enough to appreciate the difference in the dawn chorus.
  • To carry less stuff
  • To intervene less in the choices of others.
  • To view with as little concern as Phoebe, a chess move that might loose a bishop, because: “Its no problem. I have another one.”
  • To embrace the feeling of salt on my skin.
  • To live the value of rather being kind than being right.
  • To not hopelessly entangle my own frustrated experience with Sebastian’s aspirations for hooking a big one.
  • To appreciate the shape and feel and value of sand and rocks and all that is not rare or fragile or expensive.
  • To live more into questions, like Phoebe's, of why peaches turn from green to yellow and whether anyone knows for real where humanity comes from.
  • To act on my exciting conviction that it is possible to reconcile my spirituality and my atheism.
  • To hold close the solid, rounded, smooth remembrance of my grandmother's cowrie shells and the connections to who and what has added value to my past.
  • To read and live beyond my own cultural entrenchment and the viewpoint appropriate to my age and station.
  • To be cognisant of my privileged freedom in paradise and of what I could do with that.
  • To be influenced in my life choices by Madiba's Long Walk to Freedom.

We leave paradise early one morning for the long journey home. Up in the hills there is movement and noise. Groups of uniformed school children are making their way along the potholed roads towards various schools dotted across the landscape. Others are going the opposite way, herding cows. An old Gogo is talking animatedly. To us? We reverse to see if she wants a lift. But it seems not. She tells us her story. We shrug. She shrugs. We don't share a language.

I am keen to visit Madiba's gave site. I think I remember a sign on the way up. But it is difficult to know where the village of Qunu starts and stops amongst the colourful buildings spread across the hills. We pass something called the Qunu store. But further along the stores have other names. We seem to have missed it. And now it's probably not worth turning back. We continue heading west, out of this rural, rolling landscape, towards Plett.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to write and share. It is uplifting and helps me stay focused and mindful. Inspiring and wonderful. May paradise be part of each day in your life.