A thoughtful moment – Hermanus, South Africa

That was a close one. I made it out of Hermanus after only 8 days but I will keep fond memories with me for much longer. In Hermanus it doesn`t take long to become transformed into a local and I felt it creeping closer with each day. I am so glad to have been able to view the whale and have enjoyed such stellar weather during my visit. I cannot get over how friendly people here in South Africa have been to me.

I met a man named Eddie who was asking for money for his family. It has not been easy for me to confront these situations…I was ignorant. I suppose maybe I felt guilty or ashamed so I would avoid situations like these. But this day, I stopped. I could sense that we were the same. I know how it feels to ask for help. I have struggled for a very long time with this concept. When we deny that human instinct, things begin to go wrong.

For example, when I worked in computers and lived alone for so many years. After a difficult childhood, I was determined to catch up to normalcy. Scarred by years of pain and worry, I was so proud of my self sufficiency and independence. For my age, I was doing very well according to society`s standards of success. I had money, cars, houses, luxurious holidays, investments, a prestigious position in corporate America and then I had a cat.

Once the rush of being an overachiever wore thin, I got frustrated. In the silence, I would feel a loneliness that I cannot describe. It is an empty hollow feeling. I began to realise that I had mastered so many areas of my life yet all the money in the world could not help me past this wall around me. I even began shutting out my cat.

Then one day, I lost it. I became desperate and scared. I knew I was in trouble and I finally asked for help. But they said no. They walked by, pretending not to see me or hear me. I felt helpless and hopeless. I felt I wasn`t even worthy of their time. After that I shut down…this began a dangerous time. Life began to be about distracting myself from my truth. I was running on empty. I was spinning my wheels with the emergency brake locked.

I will never forget the day that Everything changed. My body, mind and heart had shut down for so long then all in one moment, the dam broke. I sensed that I was in so deep that something drastic had to happen. Nothing I had mattered anymore. Something was very wrong but I realised that if I could not put my finger on the problem, I couldn’t change it. So I changed everything. I gave it all up, “yes dad…everything I have ever worked for”, and began my journey into the unknown with nothing but faith.

Brave? Not really. Brave was living in a paper house in the middle of a firestorm. Brave was living a lie, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think the word I can finally call myself is not brave, but intelligent. To be able to admit that I had crawled all the way up the mountain only to realize that it was the wrong one.

I suppose it had to happen this way. I am truly grateful for even the hardest times. For they are what have given me strength. So, Eddie my friend, thank you for smiling at me and sharing with me. And thank you for teaching me about respect. I can now acknowledge what would have been uncomfortable with a soft eyes and an open ear. By the end of our brief chat, I had made a new friend. I didn’t give him money but I gave him my time.

Perhaps we ask for certain things, thinking they will help but end up confused when they don`t. Perhaps when we become focused on one solution, we become closed to others. Perhaps help is something that cannot be defined until it is given. In my own experience, when I have tried to control the outcome, I somehow lose. Sure, I may get what I wanted but what was meant for me was 10 times better. I have just sold myself short. I am learning that I cannot even imagine what treasures life holds for me. Everyday is a surprise if I let it be.

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