Life is so fragile. My original opening line below is now poignant since I heard the news last night. I’d like to dedicate this to a brave soul who fought long and hard – Gabe Thevathasan – your candle may have blown out at age 10, but the rest of the candles you lit still shine bright with your spirit.
Tomorrow I get to experience something Lady Di and Marilyn Monroe never did.
I turn 37.
This is always a special time of year for me, with a birthday rolling around I get to reflect on a year lived and feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for the new experiences and people that have come into my life – whether briefly or now embedded into the tapestry of my life.
There’ve been great firsts for me this year.
- The Opera
- Starting my blog
- Going for Coaching
- Being wrapped in caution tape with an amazing woman on a dance floor
- Supporting my brother at the Cape Epic
- Winter Vortex
- Secret Sunrise
- Attending a world first launch – the ageLOC ME personalised skin care system
All of which have been complimented by moments of falling in love; experiencing pain; attending a beautiful love ceremony; having endless laughs with friends and dancing for days in the desert. Collectively I’m reminded of my three pillars that I live by:
- Be grateful for what you have;
- Be in the service and give to others;
- and form meaningful relationships.
I’ve always believed that being grateful for what you have helps you live in joy and happiness. It’s not about being happy when I get something or somewhere (just ask a number of depressed famous people who appear to have it all) It’s about being happy now. When you can find joy in the smallest things, suddenly life becomes much simpler. Simple pleasures begin to elevate your mood to a place you never knew existed. Just because of a smile. Practising this means you will enjoy more days than not.
I had an issue with my engine last month which essentially cost me more than what I spent on my first car. Needless to say my heart almost kicked out the emergency exit and left me stranded. Granted, there are worse calls to get (and I’ve had a few) but that’s an insane amount of money in anyone’s language.
‘Please come in so we can talk about it Mr Patterson’
The garage is about 3km from the office so I decided to take my time rather and stroll in the glorious spring sunshine. The slight breeze made the heat more bearable as I listened to my music. I decided to be absolutely present and feel each step I took; feel each breath lift my chest, and really admire the majestic mountains of Stellenbosch.
At that exact moment everything was perfect. I could walk. I could see. I could hear. I could feel. I had love in my heart from family and friends. Yes there would be a moment later where it would hurt to pay that amount but it wasn’t then.
I brought myself back to the now. And it was beautiful.
The cost was astronomical – but it’s just money. I can make more. I still have a car and luckily nothing bad physically happened to me up to that point. For the first time in my life I didn’t allow an external bad ‘thing’ to affect my happiness. It wasn’t fun, and I may not have been singing from the rooftops but I was still smiling.
Lesson: Bad things are always going to happen; cultivate a positive mind set BEFORE bad things happen so you can deal with them. It’s too late to try and become positive in a bad moment
Service to others
This is a big one.
I grew up being surrounded by it. Watching my mom and gran working for meals on wheels; my mom carting me and my mates to cricket games all over Joburg or clearing out old clothes to be able to give to those less fortunate than us. It made me think about giving and I remember being incredibly happy buying my family their favourite chocolate with my pocket money or simply being helpful around the house (this was all on my good days!)
Then at my High School, King Edwards, we had something called KESFAM which was about raising money for various charities. One that really sticks out was seeing us sponsoring blind people with guide dogs. Feeling their appreciation changed me forever.
While living in London I had a thought to get involved with something but didn’t know what.
Another life changing moment.
Harrods, I worked in the golfing department, threw a Christmas lunch for terminally ill and disabled children. They needed helpers and I jumped at the chance. I was dressed in a Panda Bear suit and being so nervous (I know – no one could even see me!) danced to the music. I became known as ‘The Dancing Bear’ and if I took too long a break to get clean air in my lungs was immediately summoned. Just for a moment the world was perfect. The joy on every child’s face was a true gift to behold. That would be the start to my life’s pillar of giving back to those who needed it most.
People equate giving with money and I think people believe it has to be hundreds or thousands of Rands – so giving R50 becomes ‘why bother?’. Firstly, imagine 100 people think that same thing? Suddenly R50 becomes R5000. Secondly, it doesn’t have to be money. Giving your time is far greater than giving money and that will tie into my third pillar I’ll talk about in a bit.
Lesson: the more we give the more we receive, just ensure you do it for people that appreciate it. Don’t waste time on vampires. The best feeling is helping others without any expectation whatsoever of it being reciprocated. Try it
Form meaningful relationships
This requires authenticity and vulnerability on your part. Celebrate who you are and you’ll surround yourself with those that matter. They will care enough about you to help you when you do something untoward, help you become the best version of yourself.
I personally have never understood holding on to resentment or anger about past ‘failed’ relationships. I use inverted commas because I don’t believe any relationship is a failure unless you don’t learn from it. You can always learn something even if it’s what you don’t want in your life or how you don’t want to behave. How to connect with people.
Friends are the family we choose. When you find these family members that behave in a manner which, tying back to my previous section about giving, means you’re always working together to build each other up and not just working on yourself.
You strive to build their happiness which inevitably builds yours too. You find people who are genuine and are able to have difficult conversations with you instead of leaving you in a bubble that everything is great. We all have faults and the quicker we set aside our egos and realise growth is for our own good – flying becomes a reality the caterpillar only dreamed of.
Moving to Cape Town where I knew nobody proved that you should never give up. Stick to being who you are and do what you love, the rest will follow. Great things take time and building relationships with people is no different.
Lesson: The greater your vulnerability, capacity to love and authenticity with people; the deeper and more meaningful your relationships will be. If all people want to do is talk superficially, don’t be surprised when they turn their back when you need them most. Hold close the people that listen after they’ve asked you “How are you?”
These are my three pillars. The glue that holds all of them together is love. Hold love in your heart and treat people with this pure intention and you will be amazed how they treat you. Be this person. Be the example to youngsters to look up to. We need role models for them. Twerking and landing on the front page of a Tabloid is not it. It’s a cheesy saying usually reserved for being in love but I think it’s appropriate to end off:
You might feel like just one person to the world; but to one person you might just mean the world.
Go spread your magic