Friday, May 14, 2010

Practical implementation

Although he knew that she looked delicious, he couldn't be quite sure unless he tasted for himself.

A topic I am currently investigating for an assignment (due any day now) had me asking my boyfriend of a long time - scratch that - a really long time, what he believed he would need to achieve/experience in life in order to consider himself a success. In his list of requirements detailing his life’s success, one thing on his list stood out, more so than the others:

‘When I have changed someone’s life for the better’.

Simple, yet meaningful. The dear smart, spoilt, techno-savvy (a 2010 man…iPhone representation in the fact that ‘buttons’ are so 2008) accounting student had included the assistance of other(s), in whatever scenario, into his wish list of what it means to be successful.

Oh man. Please imagine just how I felt realizing that my list of necessary achievements were all (A*L*L) completely selfish. Urm, about as good as an itchy scab after swimming.

Me, me, me. Oh, and myself and I.

Anyway, we got chatting about the ‘Pay it forward’ theory which made me feel a little better about myself and my lack of inclusion or consideration of others in my lifelong dreams. Generally, every once in a while we pass on the good fortune we have received and some of us do it routinely, unconsciously. Phew.

So maybe, more importantly than putting good intentions to paper, these things are best characterized by practical implementation. Good thing I bagged me the kind of guy who does both ;)

It is better to practice a little than talk a lot

‘Ya, her parents have just moved away. No, she’s staying on her own. I’ll give her a call later today, probably stop by later in the week’.

But you won’t.

‘What? No I didn’t know that. I’m so happy for them. Oh, how EXCITING! I must remember to get them a card, it’s more sentimental than a phone call. Ya, I’ll get it done tomorrow. Too swamped right now’.

But you don’t.

‘Shame, I feel so bad for her. Haven’t you heard? She just lost her uncle. Hmmhm, passed away just two weeks ago. She really needs a friend. No, I’m busy at the moment but I’ll grab her some flowers later in the week’.

But you forget.

‘Oh my word, it’s too terrible. Yup, his entire sports career out the window, just like that. Well, I’m sure he’s fine. Just has to find something new to take up his time. I’m sure he could use someone to chat to. Hey? Ya, of course I’ll call him, don’t worry about it’.

Oh yes, you forget.

‘Hey! She’s just graduated. Have you been by to say congratulations yet? Ha, no me neither but I will’.

And you do.

It’s the difference; the effort made when we take the time to stop and consider the things that are important. Putting action to words, allowing them to speak for themselves: a simple hug means more than all the words in the world. It’s the difference between claiming to support going green and actually recycling, between calling yourself a friend and actually being one...

And when you're a good friend, you wear it in your smile.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A rainbow in my window

Of raibows and crayons...

Generally, people have a very similar attitude when it comes to traffic; KILL ME NOW.

Think arrogant drivers, smog surroundings, stuck-in-the-wrong-lane-having-you-miss-your-off-ramp incidents, vehicles far from road-worthy, being cut-off, illegal lane changes that have you almost losing your head/tail lamps, the I-can-text-while-I’m-driving professionals. I have no intention of tallying up the number of bad drivers in Cape Town/JHB/KZN South Africa...if you want the specifics (ref. 2008), click here...but oh, they do exist. This I know from experience (I will admit to also being one of them).

Then there is the what-a-waste-of-my-time factor; having to leave your home when its as dark and cold as witches breath outside. Aggravation intensified by broken fans, pathetic heaters, that damn icing over of every window in the vehicle at sub-arctic temperatures that are often to be experienced the length of the drive. In Cape Town, well, just about anywhere, that drive is often symbolically long for all who participate in it.

Yup, you’re all thinking, ‘kill me now’.

But I have discovered a wonderful new way of getting through my on-average three hours a day spent driving in traffic. It came with the sudden realisation that I have been doing it all along.

My car window is a frame to the world.
Cape Town is a particularly beautiful world, especially on a clear, crisp morning.

I have seen works of the most beautiful colour contrasts; sunrises of orange and pink, sunsets of deep blue and red. Vineyard landscapes, rows of perfectly positioned vines – a funny notion considering vines left to grow do so wildly, without constraints they grow across and over one another. The moon, big and round as lemon cheesecake in a splash of deep ocean blue, mountains covered in snow. Small forests, electricity sub stations of enormous wire constructions in contrast. Rainbows and water dancing over glass in heavy rains. Abandoned buildings amongst new architecture, ships coming in to port and eery mist or heavy cloud cover coming in off of the sea, Van Hunks and his pipe over Devil's Peak; works of Cape Town, of the people in this city, its myths and surrounds.

I have found that it is the way of the world, of society, to look and reminisce than to experience first hand the pictures the world paints. This may be because we spend our whole lives sitting in the foreboding traffic, as opposed to filling our time with worthwhile experiences.

MENTAL NOTE: to try and do more than merely appreciate from a distance (that is often my car) but to experience at arms reach the five senses of life.

Wedding cake-in-the-middle-of-the road

I once met a girl who, having just completed an events management course, told me a story about the unfortunate (hugely hilarious) happenings of how she had ruined a bride’s wedding cake. ‘Ruined’ would be an understatement; her description was more one of catastrophic proportions. I cannot begin to express how amusing the story was, given the fact that this particular girl, ironically, wished to become a wedding planner.

I won’t harp on with the details, as they are not the crux of this story but I must emphasize that she ‘had absolutely ruined someone’s wedding cake on the day of the wedding’ and had then to face the consequences of having to contact the bride...merely a few hours before the ceremony.

The result was a hysterical bride, panic-stricken mother of the bride and a terrified event planner who had been threatened with her life should she not replace the cake in time. She (the events planner) resulted in scouting Cape Town for the next best thing, if not better than the original, on a quiet Saturday afternoon to return to Somerset West (a good forty minute drive between areas) in time to for the ceremony. She had less time to do the return journey in, than it would take you or I to drive those distances normally.


We have often found ourselves in similar situations, whether we are in the position of the bride, her frantic mother or the event planner. Stressful situations, high demands, pressure, anxiety, nervous tension, trauma, upset, strain, distress and all for a beautifully constructed mound of flour, eggs, butter, milk, cocoa powder and vanilla and the importance of meaning we associate it with.

A wedding cake (this is an analogy...go with it) is only life-ending if we say it is.

This, of course, may be applied to anything and everything in life. So here are some guideline’s to assist in holding your head together when your wedding cake-in-the-middle-of-the-road moment arises:

1. Be ok with back up plans, it is often that no one knows that that is what they are except you

2. Be relaxed enough to view the activity objectively and to rationally consider solutions

3. Specific to the events of a ruined wedding cake, understand that the heart of a successful wedding, marriage, relationship is not dependant on the cake but on the recipe used to nourish and sustain a lifelong partnership rich and sweet enough to see life through (this is an applies to everything...consider it)

In conclusion to the dear, darling bride, the wedding cake is surely not what determines the success of your wedding ceremony and reception? Although I will admit, it makes for a hell-of-a-nice traditional wedding pic must-have.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Manners, a moment

Polite? * YAWN * Manners quite bore me...

When you are young, one of the first things you are taught (drilled into you more like) are manners; what they are and how to use them. ‘Please’, ‘thank you’, ‘it’s nice to see you’. Pfff.

Well guess what?

I don’t want to say please anymore; my dear Woolworths teller, unfortunately I’ve been waiting in this queue (that Woolies so pride themselves on for fastest teller the world...splutter...cough...rash creeping up my neck) for almost thirty minutes and all I want to buy are these freaking prawn chips.

I don’t want to say thank you anymore; my dear Telkom assistant, representative of the network I pay a small fortune to every month that allows me access to an internet connection that is less than efficient, you have provided me with little more than an irritation to my already busy day.

PS. This information as derived from countless complaints from family, friends, previous work associates, people in general.

And guess what my dear (person from high school? Previous place of employment? Dentist who left me with an enormous re-occurring abscess in a permanent tooth, resulting in my now having to go for facial surgery so as to correctly FIX THEIR MESS?) I hate that I have just bumped into you.

Yet, when I reach that teller, I will say please. When I am done having my far from effective conversation with the on-call assistant, I will say thank you. And when I see that person, the wind blowing in their hair, apple-crunching Colgate smiles and outreached arms, I will smile in return and embrace them and I will say that it is nice to see them.

And that is because more so than being irritated, I am polite, courteous to acknowledge your service. More so than being frustrated, I am well mannered, grateful of your assistance. More so than having to endure niceties, I enjoy being apart of your pleasantries, interaction, human conversation. It is actually nice to see you.

More so than manners, it is human nature.

It is a poor idea to lie to yourself

‘Just get away from me’. Please stay. ‘I don’t want anything more to do with you’. I only want to be with you. ‘You’ve ruined everything; nothing will ever be the same’. It’s entirely my fault; I want so badly to say sorry. ‘There are no more chances, this is the last straw’. How could I ever fix this? ‘You’re so selfish. This is all your fault! How could you’. How could I? ‘Just leave, it’s over’. I am so, so sorry.

Please stay. I only want to be with you. It’s entirely my fault; I want so badly to say sorry. How could I ever fix this? How could I? I am so, so sorry.

And I am alone, I am hurting. I should feel better. The blame is all yours.

The blame is all mine.