I saw Hope today.

Today, I saw Hope.

I have already seen Grace and Faith in Town. Both of them Gifts that could so easily have been missed and overlooked.

Lost in the busy and the noise and the life that we live. Lost in the numbness of humanity.

Today was much like any other day. I got up, fed the things I love, drove the farm roads to work.

Today, I categorically did not feel like going to gym. From the moment I woke, I fought my own head.

“It’s cold.”

“It’s too early for this today.”

“I am so tired.”

“My ankle is sore.”

“My back is sore.”

“I have a sniff, people in the office are sick, I am probably well on my way to another session of cortisone / hospital.”

“I don’t want to.”

Sometimes, the thoughts in my head win. Sometimes, I fall back into bad habits and negative ideas and a uniquely twisted reality that is all mine, finely crafted from years of being way harder than I need to be on myself.

Precision honed to be cutting, demotivating, devastating and soul crushing.

There it is.

“I don’t want to.” Because what is the point? I have been doing this for a month and a half. And I have not lost 1 kilogram. Because everything is weight to me. And weight is everything to me.

“I don’t want to.” Even though I can climb a flight of stairs faster now, than I did a month and a half ago.

Even though I love it and it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something.

Even though every step is a journey to better. To healthier. To stronger.

I don’t want to. Because today it was just hard. Hard to be positive. Hard to be kind to myself. Hard to be motivated. Hard to be me.

Every step into the office a fight to convince myself that I am worth it. It is worth it. Get up and get going.

I am not sure why today was so hard. It just was.

Even when I was sitting taking my takkies off at Redemption Fitness Centre, my head was still at war with itself.

“You know you are probably getting sick so why bother?”

“You know you will fail in the long run, like you always do, so why not just give up?”

“You know you look especially large today and all the beautiful people are going to stare at you right?”

You get the idea.

And don’t get me wrong. None of these are formulated thoughts that run through my head. These are all just dark and oppressive snippets of thought, accompanied by the overwhelming weight of sadness and desolation.

I sat in the stillness of my heart and my mind and looked into the darkness that lives so very close to the edge of my soul, and I thought about letting it engulf me again. I thought about failing again.

Instead. I stood and looked out into the lit darkness beyond the windows. I thought about my path and who I am and where I am.

Again – none of it consciously formulated into structure. Just snippets of an idea and a feeling of light. Of potential calm. Of cleansing tears.

A moment in a moment where the dark of my soul fought the light of my soul. And I found a bit of Hope.

Hope for better. Lighter. Love. Laughter. Joy. God. Peace. Family. Strength.

Hope for me. For who I am. Who I have become.

Who I will be.

Hope. Just for me.

Sometimes God lives closer to you than you think.

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.

The Lesson

This year has been a time of lessons. Hard lessons. Lessons in leaving. Lessons in what it means to be a family. Lessons in loss. Lessons in strength.

And a lesson in anger and mourning and heartbreak, again.

One more down,  one more to go.

As the clock ticks ever onward to another loss, another leaving – my heart breaks all over again. I don’t know how to bear this.

I don’t know how to forgive this. This being the one left behind. This loss of an entirety. This complete responsibility for another.

I don’t know how to be this.

And I don’t think I can ever forgive this.

Not that it matters. Life goes on. Life moves on. Stuck here in this pain, or there, in that joy.

I do not wish this on my worst enemy.

This loss. This profound emptiness. This raw hurt.

This abandonment.

I don’t know how to heal from this.

And I really hope I can forgive this. Not for them. They are gone. Whether I can bear that or not. They are all gone, or going.

For me. Because this hurts more than I can ever tell anyone. Because of who I am. And what they are to me.

Another one down, one more to go.

And then we will see.

Bucket List

I have a bucket list.

Things that I have always wanted to do / see / experience.

Nothing that I have ever really thought about in detail. Just vague ideas that have survived my brain for 39 years.

It is not a very long list. Nor is it in any particular order. But it is still my list.

  • I want to see The Smoke that Thunders. I want to feel the spray on my face. Just simply because it is called The Smoke that Thunders.
  • I want to take a cruise from Seattle / Vancouver up to Glacier Bay National Park.  I have always thought that white desolate cold to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.
  • I want to take an epic train journey. Either the Canadian which travels over the Rocky Mountains or the Trans-Siberian which travels from Pacific Ocean and St. Petersburg and from which you can explore the Russian Arctic, the Silk Road or Moscow.
  • I want to explore Africa in all its majesty. From Windhoek to Dar Es Salaam. Perhaps even by train (Rovos Rail).
  • I want to skydive. Just because I want to fly.
  • I want new, smaller boobs. Because having big un’s in not all it is cracked up to be.
  • I want to ride horses again. Because as a child – that is when I felt the most free.
  • I want to buy my own house. It doesn’t have to be very big or majestic. It must perhaps have a pool, definitely a garden, and the normal basics. And it must be mine to do with as I please.
  • I want to write a book. About everything. And nothing. And the bits in between.
  • I want to come off all the meds and feel healthy. And if you are someone who has never really fully felt healthy due to weight, health or physical issues – then you know why this is on my bucket list.

My South Africa

My South Africa is not Shiren Dewani and the men he may or may not have hired. It is not Oscar Pistorius, a temper and a gun. It is not the mall robberies or the torching of train stations. It is not Steve Hofmeyer and his attention seeking tweets, nor is it Busani Ngcaweni and his bigoted generalizations. It is not the death of a soccer player or a granny in Observatory – both to violence.

Yes. That is a facet of South Africa.

But my South Africa is the spirit of Freedom. It is a boy on a train, cradling his brother. It is all the souls that make the trek to work and back on an aging infrastructure every day. It is every charity and charity worker that looks past the filth and pain and sees a person. Past the fear and hurt and sees an animal needing care.

It is every single one of us who love our country. Who want it to be better. It is every person that doesn’t break us down, but rather builds us up.

My South Africa is me. And what I chose to be. Who I chose to be.

It is you. And who you chose to be, in this country of pain and liberty, desolation and beauty.

It is a boy, on a train, cradling his brother in the summer heat. We should all be better, for him and everyone like him.

 

a boy on a train