After arriving in Swellendam and seeing some stunning sites and getting the feel of this lovely town I was ready to start what I had come here to do. And what a stream of emotions arrived!
A lot of my life I have always wanted to do charity work, but I have always said “when I have money ” “when I’m older” “after I have a family”. However since I made my little leap of faith out of my bubble, the view I have on that changed. I can do it now, I don’t have to limit when I can help or try to help other people.
Looking back I see I was actually breaking free when I mixed up my life. Breaking free from everything that I worked towards and was encouraged to believe would give me a happy, secure, safe and fulfilling life.
I had become to feel and do now feel very strongly that I and everyone around me has a really privileged life. In many ways-health care, education, financially, environment and mostly because of the experiences and lifestyle we have grown up with and continue to live. Travel is normal, even if to other parts of your country, fresh food constantly available and new clothes and belongings when we fancy. What we have is choice. Choice and options. With choice we get to have the option to be happy, but with choice we already have a base line of happiness because we can decide how we live, which path we take.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this doesn’t come without a price for many…. long hours, estranged parents, living for the weekend or living for the wine after the kids are in bed or your home from work! All of this is obviously merely my opinion but…I feel we all live an outside in lifestyle, looking for the external to fulfil our happiness. A raw simple life doesn’t make sense to so many and the cliché of keeping up with the Joneses really does apply.
On my return from Hawaii to the UK I re packed for SA, I had a complete melt down, I was disgusted in all the stuff I had. The shoes worn once, tops with labels, the sheer volume of things! I realised I had accumulated all of this because in the moment I believed that “it” would make me happy! I had been living from a suitcase for 7 months, gifted a few dresses along the way but living frugally and happily, they were the most invigorating and inspiring and free months of my life. I was incredibly lucky too with the love people gave me but compared to my life before it was very simple. I have one suitcase with me in South Africa and my budget is incredibly tiny, allocated for food, communication and travel, I love living with out much, outfits may be less but who cares, the people, the sites, the experiences and the now is what is most important.
The reality kicked in seeing the poverty around me here. When I stand in the Township playing field for the second day looking at all the children walking from all over to join the Easter programme, 99% with no shoes, some wearing what they wore yesterday, items way too small, holes in tops and dirty items. BUT what shone through was they all were happy, they all played together, ok some fought at times but that’s kids right! They all interacted and joined in the games and activities with a zest and complete enthusiasm.
It sticks in my head on the starting point of the relay stand where a ping-pong needed to be bounced on the table into the bucket, a boy, shirtless and in tartan boxers as shorts, was kissing the three balls in his hand and before every bounce he kissed then bounced. He was determined to win. His satisfaction in life coming not from what he was wearing or had in life but in the competition and fun of this busy bustling morning of fun! An equal playing field, his option along with the rest of the kids is to do or simply to sit back and miss out, they either join in with us or that is it. Two options, two choices, two paths.
I look today at my search of happiness and how I always looked outside of me to find it, the limitations I’ve put on myself because of what I thought I should have/do, the ungrateful person I have been at times and the ignorance of how blessed I truly am. I choose currently to live minimally but fully, to be rich in self-love & love for others than to be surrounded by material belongings and in search of the next new shiny thing that comes my way. I know I’ve made this choice, I have the choice to do this!
Life can be simple and while watching the children dance whenever a song blasts out gives the area such entertainment, energy and life! This makes them happy, they don’t know what new toys and clothes are like but they are still happy and smiling with a simple dance off! Maybe we should all take a moment to be grateful for the options we have, sometimes work and life may seem limiting but you have the choice to change or just tweek your life and be happy. And maybe when you think things are so bad, do a little dance, even if you feel silly and awkward, I guarantee a moment away from your computer screen or phone, wiggling your hips will put a bigger smile on your face than your Facebook feed or working out what thing you’re going to buy or save for next…. maybe not for you but its worth a try surely!
(Worth a read-Inside Out Revolution, Michael Neill)
Yes I’m trying to dance…