What is there to be positive about?

I could write a book at this point about my opinion of the incidents and news headlines over the past few weeks with regards to Universities and the students across South Africa.

I could also write a book about our President, Nkandla, E-tolls, Eskom and water shortages. This is all easy to write about and easy to focus on, as negativity is such a good spreader of negativity. These topics fuel my passionate inner voice to the point where I feel the need to go and shout it out from the mountain tops for all below to hear.

To hear what you ask? My opinion of course! It would be so much easier if everyone could just understand “My” point of view. “My” opinion. Then all would be well. Right? Let me tell you, a rant is quicker and easier to write than writing about the POSITIVE things.

Positive things always seem “bubble gum’ish” and seem to make little to no lasting impression. It is racism, poverty, loss and violence that fuel our emotions. Well let me tell you, we are NOT the only country with these issues. We all know the famous old saying “The grass is not greener on the other side”.  The truth is... The grass is greener where you water it.

Each of us have different personalities, and no matter what country you are in, everything is always dependant on the situation you find yourself in, the circumstances you are surrounded by, and the company you keep. We are all born into something we did not choose. It is what we do, with what we were born into, that counts. Do we water our own grass and therefore allow others to see a beautiful garden that inspires them to grow their own? Or do we keep fuelling the fire that ultimately destroys all. At Crafters Market we believe that we are watering our own grass by having a company that allows small South African business’s an opportunity to trade in big malls. This in turn helps the crafters brand to grow which could lead to more job creation for South Africans. So in effect we are all helping each other.

One of my favourite quotes and mottos in this life today is “Be Kind to One Another” by Ellen DeGeneres. It is such a simple line, but such a powerful one, with a world of possibilities surrounding it. If only it was downloaded to each and every one of our hard drives from birth. Oh wait. It was. As we have grown up and been exposed to the cruel world out there, we have slowly but surely put up walls of protection around us. So much so that we don’t even greet someone in the same elevator as us for fear of a conversation, an awkward moment… rejection.

We, a species of social beings, are so reserved and afraid of contact with other humans that there would be no reason why we would be kind. No reason to look after any but our own. But somewhere inside each of us, there is this gut instinct. Something we used to follow so freely but quickly learnt to suppress. Every now and then when we drop our guard we do let this instinct thing take over, but because we use and trust it so little, it tends to run wild and hurt us because we have no control over it. Then, instead of learning from our mistakes and fine tuning our instinct, we shut off from interaction and go into self-preservation mode.

I’ll give you a good example. Two nights ago in the hotel I am currently staying at, they had a bit of a musical comedy going on downstairs in the hotel bar. Halfway through the show, the one performer sang a golden oldie from Frank Sinatra. As I scanned the room of people and saw how memories were flooding back to some of the elderly that attended the show, I noticed a woman in the front row in tears. Her friend turned to console her during the performance and afterwards the performer went over to her and kissed her hand with a heart-warming look to say sorry for how she was feeling. It was a genuine act of kindness that I had witnessed right in front of me, which then in turn fuelled that passionate inner voice of mine. I had this burning desire to speak to the lady and to brighten up her evening. I wanted to take her on the dancefloor and dance with her to set her free from the pain she felt from obviously losing her husband/partner recently.

But on the other hand the voices in my head were saying “she does not know you…”, “she will think you are weird”. I had a genuine fear within me and nerves that could shake my skinny legs for days. On any other given day I would have felt that instinct to approach her, pushed it back down, said it’s not my place, and moved along. But on this day, this very night, I had a few drinks prior to this all transpiring before me. So my “Klippies Cape” of bravery was on. Don’t mock the cape, it’s a real thing!

Anyway, back on topic. So with my cape on and my knees shaking I approached the lady and asked her to dance. Her answer was, “I can’t”. There it was. The rejection I feared so much. Shot to the heart, and you’re to blame… instinct. Stupid instinct. Stupid cape of bravery. I took it with a smile, and as I was turning to run from my utter embarrassment, she pulled me down on one knee where she was sitting and explained that she had just had an operation and could not dance. But if she could, she would have loved to. Within a few seconds I went from utter embarrassment to a tear rolling down my cheek as she told me of her late husband and how she missed him.

It felt as though the entire room was looking at me as I got up and walked away. But I walked away feeling fulfilled, like I had made a difference. It’s called kindness. And kindness does make a difference. Sometimes it’s a kind word, sometimes it’s a small gift. For each situation there is a different solution to make someone’s day.

So as this new week is upon us, the message I would like to bring across is, don’t fuel the fire, but rather water the grass. Look around you for people in need of a kind word, a hug or a small gift. We are all on our own journey experiencing our own pain.

There is nothing quite like an unselfish gesture towards another person whether you know them personally or not. It can even be an anonymous gesture. Keep it small, keep it simple and keep it real.
If  you are looking for a place to get that small gift, Crafters Market is the best place to shop as our variety is beyond compare. Whether you personally know someone or they are a stranger to you, you will be guaranteed to find something.  Not only will you be kind to that person, but also to your country by supporting a local crafter. Lets water our own grass.

Happy Monday and remember… Be kind to one another.

Author: Yolande Niemandt
April 2016

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