I didn’t do any adventuring in Joburg this week. Having just returned from an epic road trip, it felt best to ease into the rhythm of my home town, and my home, and just be. I had planned to twirl my magic wand and rid my house of what feels like tons of accumulated crap (i.e. shed some skin along with the Year of the Snake which is coming to an end) but socialising took precedence. I caught up with many of my close friends, both in person and on the phone, which took up most of the week. And that was good and right. A house, after all, can wait. Quite long, it seems.
I had hoped that 2014 was going to be an easier year. The last two years have been incredibly intense in terms of personal tragedies in my life and for many people around me. It felt as if 2014 could only get better. But the year has started with the news that an old friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and that the awesome human being and extraordinary artist, Paul du Toit, died this week after a long, brave battle with cancer. Paul grew up in my street on the West Rand, and he and his beautiful wife, Lorette, moved to Hout Bay, where they became close friends of my sister. Paul set up his Planet Paul studio in Hout Bay and another one in New York. His untimely death is a great loss to the art world, but I can’t help thinking about his poor mom and his brothers, never mind Lorette and their two children. Everyone who came into contact with Paul speaks of what an amazingly gentle and generous soul he was. I like to think that Paul has shed the skin of this life, rid himself of the body that was suffering, and that he’s experimenting with colour and textures that are out of this world.
The older I get, the more I realise that our sole purpose is to love and be loved. There is not much else. When my mom was dying (this time last year), I really did feel buoyed up by the messages and love sent by the people around me – near and far. It got me through what was an incredibly intense and painful time. It didn’t have to be huge outpourings of emotions and lots of words or deeds – when people were thinking of me, or sending me love, I felt comforted and held. I try to share that love as much as I can with the people around me – my beautiful children, my family, my many amazing friends, my colleagues, my students and their families…
Because, the thing is this: This life is not easy. Every time I think I have it all sorted out and neatened (like my topsy-turvy house), something else falls out of the cupboard and whacks me on the side of the head. I have learned many lessons, and I am always learning more, thanks to these unexpected visitors. I am learning that Life is incredibly precious and tenuous – it could all be gone in an instant. The best possible response I have is to enjoy every moment; even the crap ones. I mean, to feel and really experience each moment. It has become essential for me to be true to myself and to speak my mind. I’ve become a tourist in my own city because it would be a terrible thing if I didn’t fully enjoy my time here. I’m even getting a little better at asking for help because I realise that I am actually not Superwoman and I can’t do everything on my own (although it did take a damaged spine to bring that lesson home fully). It is, after all, because of other people that our lives make sense, and people like to help and to be needed. I’m finding so much beauty in the world, mostly in unexpected places.
Perhaps the adventure this week for me has been a little reflection rather than an external journey. I do know that I’m quite ready to shake off the Snake and for the Horse to arrive and carry me through the next year, because it feels like a little extra help would not go amiss. And in the mean time, I’ll just continue to send out as much Peace and Love as I can muster to all my people around the world.