Seeds…

A few weeks ago, our family decided to plant a few seeds, as with every seed that is planted, there is always hope for new growth, and new possibilities. After having had a rather emotionally grueling period in our family, we decided that a ‘feel good exercise’ was necessary, one that would mark the beginning of a new season in our lives, as well as one that would potentially have a lasting effect, so we decided to buy various seeds, from flowers to carrots. Considering that neither me nor my husband have any prior experience in gardening, this was purely experimental on all of our parts, our two year old son’s included. So with our gloves donned, spades in hand and hose pipe awaiting, we embarked on this experiment with much gusto and enthusiasm, there’s nothing more exciting than knowing that what you do today, will one day amount to something bigger, beautiful and even surprising. The anticipation of the satisfaction and sense of achievement is in itself enough to fuel one with added energy.

Having carefully prepared the soil and cleared the pots, we all grabbed hold of our sachets of seeds and each of us had a go at sprinkling the seeds into the various pots, since none of us have any actual experience in planting, we chose to play it by ear and just have fun throwing in what ever seeds one had in hand, at times I had the sneaking suspicion that maybe some pots had a combination of winter flowers and carrots all in one. This, obviously , was only going to be evident once the seedlings came out and one discovered what kind of leaves were presented.

The thing about planting seeds, literally and metaphorically, is that it takes time to see the ‘fruits of your labour’. There is a lot of patience needed to carefully nurture and water the seeds, sight unseen, with the knowledge, hope, trust and belief that they will grow to be whatever plants or flowers they were intended to be. It is impossible for the seeds to become flowers over night, without first going through their natural life cycle, however, this knowledge does not stop us wishing.

There are times in life when one feels like events aren’t unfolding quickly enough, business is not yielding result fast enough, the weight is not shedding rapidly enough, winter is not leaving soon enough. The list is endless. The reality is that every thing happens when it happens, as they say, everything has its own season, every caterpillar must go through its process in becoming a butterfly.

Everything has its own process.

Honour the process. The process of watching the pots getting enveloped by the green blanket of new leaves, noticing how some leaves resemble those of carrots and others of winter flowers and realising that it does not matter whether there was a mix up during planting or not, for new growth is new growth.

Sometimes I discover that some pots already had had other plants that had been in need of a bit of attention to spring back to life, so some of the growth was even a surprise to us the planters. It is a matter of accepting and welcoming the sight of everything green in our back yard regardless of what it looks like. A dear friend of mine pointed out that answers in life take form, as with flowers, they take form, shape up and eventually blossom into the wonders that they are. The trick is to recognize the beauty even when it presents in an unexpected form, who knows? One day what looked unacceptable today, could be perfect for another day, its a question of allowance.

I am learning through our foundation level gardening, to honour the process, to trust in nature and the natural laws that govern her, to welcome the new growth in whatever form or shape it comes and to trust that to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose. This is my lesson.

With visible breathe I await with excitement, the day the first flower starts blooming and the transformation of our green back yard will come to full effect…

…With a hopeful heart I usher in the period of new events unfolding, of new dreams being realised and new possibilities beckoning.

And in this spirit, I celebrate father time working together with mother nature, to bring about new life, and I marvel at the sheer brilliance.

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In Black and White

There are many things that people love talking about, reading about and even thinking about, and then there are those unpalatable topics, that are just too awkward to even contemplate… the kind that leave you filled with cognitive dissonance. The kind that you wish you could avoid at all cost but can’t. This, I dare say, is one of those times when such a topic cannot be avoided. Awkward as it may be.

Racism! Yes! I know, ‘why do you have to bring up this old subject?’ I hear you ask. Why can’t you let sleeping dogs lie? If only…
The answer is, ‘ because the dogs aren’t quite sleeping as we hope they are, they are out and about barking their heads off to their hearts content and nobody is restraining them since the consensus is ‘lets not wake the dogs’.

I live in Cape town, one of thee most beautiful cities I have ever had the opportunity to experience. Cape town is a paradox, it is full of contradictions that sometimes border on being surreal. For example, when you land at the Cape town International, the aerial view shows you the beautiful kaleidoscope of city lights and the marvelous skyline by night, you could hardly imagine what you will encounter on your way out of the airport , a few kilometers away from the ‘international feel , Squatter camps by day. These are the most informal housing you could think of. This is where the many working people of Cape town have their homes, raise their families and live a big part of their lives. It is a far cry from the beautiful, leafy suburbs and the extravagant restaurants and hotels
where they work and spend the other part of their lives.
As a resident of Cape town, I am everyday reminded of the gap between the haves and the have nots, the disparities in the distributions of resources and space. I am constantly reminded of the ‘differences’ between people of various races. I am bombarded by the silence around the topic of racism, yet everyday, I am given a glimpse of its nasty head and sometimes even nastier tail.

The thing about racism is that nobody wants to talk about it, nobody wants to subject themselves and others to the awkwardness that it creates, and it seems, nobody wants to acknowledge that it even exists except the ones who are forced to deal with it on a daily basis. And even they don’t want to talk about it.
These are the warriors who put on a brave face and just ‘grin and bear it’ with the hope that it will go away, and that it will get better with time. The trouble is this problem does not go away. It merely becomes strengthened by our denial.
I understand the temptation to just ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ however my life experience forces me to acknowledge that the dogs aren’t sleeping, for they are chasing many of us till kingdom come and there is no promise of them stopping. My theory with dogs is this, having grown up in rural transkei, where the dogs are aggressive and hardcore, one learns to deal with unfriendly dogs in a certain way. Don’t run…. square up and face them, this way they won’t give chase.. This ofcourse, is my own experience and cannot know what works for the next person. Thus, I choose to talk about this racism, because I don’t want to find myself running endlessly, only to discover that the dog has not teeth.

I am married to a European man from Finland, we live most part of our life in Cape Town, occasionally we visit the Eastern Cape where my family lives, or visit Finland where his family lives.
We are raising a two year old son in Woodstock , and he goes to a school which caters largely for the Muslim community. A remarkable school, with which we are very pleased .
Every once in a while we get the opportunity to meet with the parents of other children at the school, for school meetings. This is always an experience that leaves me speechless, for without fail I know that my husband and I will be sticking out like sore thumbs in that space and that somebody is bound to be staring, this ofcourse, is understandable, considering that we are a ‘mixed’ couple perhaps one of the youngest parents and who knows, maybe there’s something interesting about us that inspires the looks. What ever it is, I can accept that it is human nature to be curious when you are faced with something that you consider an anomaly a pink elephant kind of scenario. However, what I don’t understand, nor find acceptable is the fact that without fail, the fathers of the children will come to us and shake my husband’s hand and not even give a cursory glance in my direction. Time after time after time, meeting after meeting, the same procedure as the last time. The men will just not greet me. At first I thought, perhaps its a religious thing, but then I thought against that, for surely they must greet the women in their communities. Don’t get me wrong, I am not upset that ‘ people aren’t being nice to me’, that is not the point its the principle. In our world, my husband and I are equal, however, it appears that in the real world, ‘some of us are deemed more equal than others’
This is unacceptable to both me and my husband, for needless to say, if they disrespect me by not greeting , they disrespect my husband by greeting him. Rather they not greet at all, to avoid this.
I have yet to call these individuals to task ,for I have been hoping the situation will change… it has not, and now, as I have reached the end of my tether, I find it necessary to address it. Sometimes the ‘benefit of the doubt’ is just another way of enabling people to continue with their ways. It is hardly a solution.

There are numerous other examples of how the racist attitudes and mentality of our people are exposed, be it in the convenient greeting of the white man and the standard overlooking of the black woman, or what a dear friend of our calls the ‘triangular look’. A look reserved for mixed couples with a child, one that is widely popular at shopping malls. These are but the subtle manifestations of racism, there are more blatant cases which I would rather not get into in the interest of self preservation and not laying it too thick. This topic, as we know, is already awkward and undesirable, no need to pontificate.

As the person who is exposed to all sorts of imaginable expressions of racism, and my husband as one who witnesses these moments, we find it necessary to bring the cold light of day to this phenomenon, that no one is too keen to tackle. By pretending that racism is a thing of the past we are merely slowing down the process of transformation, and the emancipation of our minds.

To all the scholarly inclined individuals, (you; who have the ‘license’ to do research:) I challenge you to watch television for atleast half a day, observe the commercial breaks and see how the media (advertising industry) portrays black people. The answer to this study, would touch on my next story of ‘the last straw that broke the camels back’ and set off this urgent need to talk and talk and talk more about racism. Advertisers rely on stereotypes, and there is an industry standard of what black people are like or perceived to be. I find it to be a mockery of black people as I know that the adverts are not even written by black people. It is said that ‘WHITE’ is aspirational, by a white person. If this does not offend our sensibilities, then I don’t know what will. I, for one, know that I’m far from the industry standard, and that’s standard! Hence my unpleasant experience at one of Cape towns recording studios.

If you walk into a pig sty, expect to experience some muddy moments, however elaborately disguised the pig sty is, it is still a pig sty. That’s my analysis on the South African advertising industry.

To those who could have used some blissful ignorance, forgive my coming hurtling in and turning your peaceful world a little bit inside out, and snatching you out of your silent reverie, it happens sometime.
I hope that there will be more public discourse about racism, the legacy of apartheid and the necessarily paradigm shift. We have freedom of expression, lets express!