I think we all know the saying to “stop and smell the roses” and few will be able to argue with the validity of the saying. I also think that few of us actually take the time to do just that. In today’s world of Facebook notifications, Twitter’s tweets, push email and 24/7 television we are constantly going forward at the speed of light. With a media ADHD we rarely afford ourselves the chance to look back, to stop and contemplate or ultimately to be grateful. I am as much a victim as any other half tech-head. But tonight I had a glimpse.
On this sad day I rejoice in thanks to the greatest son of Africa and the father of our nation. As I do so, I give thanks to these 5 things that Tata Madiba has taught Me
- To be proud to be South African: I am (still) learning to be a proud South African and not to be ashamed of my country’s history but to embrace the lessons it has taught us as a nation and a humanity. Our mistakes and our failures are our lessons and our guides. Take them in your stride and you grow as a person. Regret and ignore them and you are bound to suffer their reappearance as a lesson not yet learned.
- Peace and reconciliation are more powerful than guns and strife: There is a time to fight and there is a time to cry but the most powerful time is that of healing. There are so many places in the world that could benefit from coming together and healing. Not far from my part of Africa we have strife in The Central African Republic, a fight that with patience, compassion and humility can be resolved.
- It is not what you are but who you are and how you are: Tata Madiba is remembered for the big things but also for the small. So many have commented in their tributes to Madiba that he made everyone feel at ease. From the door man to the person who served tea, from the hospital nurse to the Queen of England, Madiba greeted and treated everyone as an important person. It is important to recognise everyone for their role they play. A company, a family, a country – we all need people to watch the door, pour the tea, clean the roads, coordinate the teams and make tough decisions, a chain relies on its links and we need to recognise each and every link as important.
- It is a long walk to freedom: We all face battles daily and it is only one challenge at a time that we win and conquer our battles, fears and opposition. Usually these are internal, “Am I good enough?”, “How do I overcome that?”, “How can I accomplish this?” but it is with a single-minded purpose, a heartfelt dedication and a genuine desire to win that we can be victorious. It does not happen over night but it can be a journey which brings our allies closer and can turn the hearts of those who stand in our way.
- You can make friends with your enemies: On my birthday in 1995, the 25th of May, South Africa won two battles. One against Australia in the Rugby World Cup and one as a nation coming together. Tata Madiba wore the Rugby jersey of the Springbok Rugby team in celebration of our first World Cup Rugby win. He wore the jersey that for so long had been a key symbol of the white oppressors of the black South African. On that day he won the hearts of all South Africans and showed the way to come together, to be one and to be proud of how far we had come and how far we can go.
Today I wear my SA rugby jersey. I wear it with a sense of pride, a tear in my eye and a feeling of unity with an entire country who have come together on this very sad day to rejoice and mourn. So I wear this jersey, not for the rugby players today but for the man who wore it best, our father Nelson ‘Madiba’ Rolihlahla Mandela.
Hamba kakuhle Tata, Nkosi sikelel’ iMandela
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So, I have a fear that I need to overcome… Whenever I think about the upcoming Scuba course I am doing, I realise I have to go through the practice of letting water into my mask and demonstrating I can purge the water.
My fear of water coming up my nose however completely panics me. Even the thought of it… So, today while swimming at the gym I was practicing again, it just wasn’t working and I kept thinking, “Ugh, who needs to dive anyway? I did my scuba course and haven’t dived since – I won’t miss it.”
Thing is I knew that this was my irrational reaction to an irrational fear. I knew more than that that I really do want to dive again. So to overcome my fear I am realising, it is like learning to drive a car, ride a bike or get used to creepy crawlies… it is a mental attitude.
The fear resides in our thinking and the solution too resides in our thinking. Who is the boss of our feelings, fears or thoughts? How often do we think or say, “I can’t help feeling this way!”?