Article as it appeared in Essays of Africa magazine. By Kim Garner
You can read the article "How's Your Relationship with Yourself?" here.
Article as it appeared in Khuluma - Kulula's in-flight magazine, which can also be found online. By Katherine Graham
You can read the article here on page 127: http://www.khulumaonline.co.za/mags/2016_09_september/index.html#/128
Brussels in Belgium has one of the world’s most famous statues – the Manneken Pis a small naked boy peeing in the water fountain.
As far as statues go, the Manneken Pis barely features. At only 61cm/2ft in height it is really tiny, and yet the Manneken Pis is a major tourist attraction. It is as much a landmark in Brussels as Big Ben is in London and the Statue of Liberty in America.
The life lesson here is that it is not always size that counts – small everyday things can be just as significant.
Do you believe that people are successful because they work hard and earn their success? Or is it just about being in the right place at the right time? In other words, do you control your life or does something else (like a god, luck or destiny) control it? Your answer depends on your “Locus of Control”.
If you ask someone to list their values, the chances are they will mention ‘integrity’, but ask them to define integrity, or how it affects their lives, and they can’t.
We are taught from an early age that integrity is a good value to uphold, but we don’t really know what it is!
So what is integrity all about and what does it mean?
My mother and I recently stayed at Thendele, one of the KZN Wildlife Resorts in the Drakensberg. Although there are signs everywhere asking guests not to feed the wildlife, it was quickly evident that this was happening.
The baboons were well aware that there was food to be had from the guests. I was caught unawares when an enormous baboon nonchalantly strolled up to me sitting in front of the open sliding-door to the cottage. I warily watched him walk around the corner and was relieved when he disappeared. Moments later he cunningly doubled back, rushed past me into the cottage, grabbed a bag of books and ran off. I chased him and found him sitting at the back of the cottage trying to eat a bird book! After some yelling and waving on my part, the baboon abandoned the book, jumped up on the roof and casually watched me while I retrieved the scattered books. It was a moment of high drama! The ripped book makes us laugh now, but the tragedy of the situation is not lost on us – when tourists feed the baboons, the baboons become a nuisance, eventually become dangerous and have to be shot.
The lesson here is to obey the rules.
Doing the right thing is incredibly important. It affects the future. Little choices that we make can have big consequences.
Earlier this year I visited the Cape and spent time with a dear friend. Every day we did something different, but because we loved Stellenbosch so much we went back there many times. We ate in fabulous cafés and restaurants, we met interesting people, we popped in and out of wonderful shops and bought a variety of things that caught our fancy – artisan bread, a bone china tea set, a pretty scarf. We were delighted with the variety and diversity of our explorations.
The lesson here is to appreciate what is in your own backyard. In Stellenbosch I was made very aware that we were enjoying what millions of international tourists are drawn to annually – the sheer beauty of this land, its rich culture and heritage, and the warmth and hospitality of our fellow citizens. The rest of the world comes to enjoy the offerings that are already available to us.
At the beginning of every year, most people make plans and set goals for the year ahead. It’s a great idea, because knowing where you want to go is important – How can you get there, if you don’t know where you are going?
With my sailing background, one of my favourite quotes is “If a man knows not what harbour he seeks, any wind is the right wind.” ~ Seneca ~
But a sailor does not just allow himself to be blown about the ocean. It doesn’t matter what the wind, he just resets his sails to take him in the direction he wants to go. In the same way, when you know what you want out of life, you can set your course to get there, no matter what the circumstances.
But, you need to know where you want to go… you need to have a vision!
To help you clarify your vision, it may help to create a vision board (also called a Dream Board).
While based in Cannes, working on a privately owned luxury yacht, I was asked by the Captain of another yacht if I would help him bring his yacht back from San Remo, just over the French border in Italy. His own crew were all on leave and he desperately needed someone to assist. As it was to be my day off and it sounded like hard work, I was reluctant to help, but I also realised that if I said no he would be hard pushed to find anyone else so I agreed.
The Captain and I set off at dawn on the designated day and took the train to San Remo. We sailed back to Cannes in perfect weather conditions and I had nothing to do except sit back and enjoy the trip. On arrival in Cannes I was well paid for my time and still had some of my day off to enjoy. It turned out to be the easiest day’s work I have ever done!
The lesson here is that when you have the chance to do something for someone else, with no expectation of reward, seize the opportunity. One can never anticipate the good fortune that can come out of an act of goodwill.
I recently visited Tala Game Reserve, in KwaZulu-Natal, with my mother. We spent a few hours driving around looking for game, but were disappointed in that we saw almost nothing. We eventually found our way to the bird hide overlooking a small dam, with rolling hills beyond. We set out our camping chairs on the open deck and just sat quietly, enjoying the view.
It was not long before we realised that everywhere we looked there was game to be seen. Waterfowl had settled back on the water, hippos in the dam were popping their heads up to grunt and snort, birds of prey were circling overhead, monkeys were playing in the huge fig tree on the other side of the dam, ostrich, kudu, impala and wildebeest could be seen on the hills and rhino were grazing in the distance.
The lesson I was reminded of is that desire often creates paradoxical effects: The more you want something, the more you chase after it, the more it eludes you. Henry Thoreau said: “Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you; but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder."