Spawning off of the previous post (and the real reason for the sequence’s title), a recent walk with Baba, insightful and compelling as always, helped to shape my thoughts on this paradox of necessity and desire and how it relates to happiness.
My Baba (whose English name is, adorably, Arthur) is unparalleled. He is one of those strong, sometimes-talkative-sometimes-silent leaders who exudes affable dominance upon entering a room. There’s just this attractive air of humility, honesty, and history about him. He has surely been through a lot: the deplorable murder of his first wife, the suicide of one of his daughters, donning disguises to escape gunmen during faction fights, and racism in the office during his stint working with white people under apartheid.
Baba was born (in 1939, mind you) and raised in my village when it was a different era with different situations. He wore animal skins, was barefoot year-round, and used the Sun and stars to tell time. He said that if you owned just one shirt, you were rich. He milked cows, ground maize with a rock, and lived off what his family grew and raised. The town I shop in and the taxi system I use now were not a twinkle in anyone’s eye back then; Baba had to walk 20kms if he wanted sugar, salt, or to barter goods. His toys consisted of figures made from mud and grass, and typical games with friends included seeing who could stack ten stones the quickest. This dear man informed me that time and people were “smoother back then.” Everyone was calmer, more patient, and behaved in a much more respectful manner than present day. After witnessing a year in this one place we have in common, I believe him.
Like so many experiences I have over here, learning more about my second father’s time watching our village transform over 70+ years really affirmed my desire to wholeheartedly appreciate what I own (be it material or not). Think about it: if you have the ability to read this post, just as I have the ability to compose it, you’re quite fortunate. You’ve some sort of electronic device, money with which you bought it, probably a snack next to you, and – you’re literate. Pretty damn cool. After spending a year in the sticks, I implore us to not take those material possessions and subconsciously applied skills lightly.
So, whether or not you agree with me that you can choose how to perceive and respond to a spilled merlot or a waiter’s mistake or a botched business plan, it doesn’t really make a difference in my book. But I do think we can all concur that appreciating what we are fortunate enough to have and what we work hard enough to earn are intrinsically good things to do.
–– As much as he desires to alter his labeling, he chooses to be shackled by status. His shiny toys turn into dusty cuts and he begins to suffocate. Cucumber air within reach, no alterations are made and so, fate decided and sealed, he presses the pillow further down ––
(Something I wrote a year ago referring to materialism & its suffocating nature.)