Thursday, September 29, 2011

To My Son....

A few days ago I was sitting at a ‘beach’ next to Lake Victoria finishing a book by Robin Sharma called The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. In this book Robin uses a spiritual fable of a most extraordinary garden with lighthouses, naked sumo wrestlers and roses to symbolize the “Seven Timeless Virtuous of Enlightened Living” as he calls it. Thinking about the contents of the book and how most of it makes perfect sense in this rat race we all seem to have gotten ourselves involved, I decided to write an adapted version for my son who I believe will not only benefit from these virtues, but who would much better relate to a beach scene than a garden scene.  

"Just imagine the most beautiful beach you have ever seen. The water is crystal clear with a deep blue colour and behind a reef the most perfect sets of waves are coming through one after the other. The sun is bright and shiny and there are no clouds in the sky. The glistening of the sun’s rays on the waves as they effortlessly push their way through to the beach practically blinds you, but your mind is captured by the perfectly hollow waves. On one of the waves a broad shouldered surfer is catching a perfect right hander. The surfer with his tanned body is wearing a necklace with a shiny white shark tooth that contrasts his brown skin. As he makes his way towards the beach through a couple of overhead tubes, he reaches the beach with golden sand. He tries to pick up a handful, but the sand slips through his fingers like it always does when he tries to take some home. Amazed by the sand he hardly sees the blonde mermaid on the beach who looks like she has washed up hours before and can’t get back to the cooling sea water by herself. He immediately rushes to her, wipes her face with his wet salty hands and carries her back into the ocean in his strong arms. He sits down on the golden sand and watches as a dozen dolphins circle around her as they swim off into the deep blue ocean. He sat there in awe until long after the sun had set into the blue water.
If you have read the book then you might agree that the beach scene with a beautiful blonde mermaid will go down better with a 5-year old little beach boy than a beautiful garden and a naked sumo wrestler "with a pink wire around his private parts". The meaning of the symbols however I think is more important than the symbol themselve, so here are the 7 Virtues of Enlightened Living…

In this fable the unspoilt beach symbolizes the mind. The first virtue according to Yogi Raman, the fictitious character in Robin Sharma’s book, is to “master the mind”. Basically we all have the ability to keep our minds clear from “garbage”. To enjoy life one has to stay positive, guard ourselves against unnecessary worries, forget the past and stop brooding over the future that we cannot change. Like my wife always say, “We don’t see the world the way it is, we see it the way we are”. The way we think is a habit, nothing more. It can be a good habit or a bad habit. We can tell our minds to stop thinking when negativity enters it and change it towards positive thoughts. Look at the clouds or appreciate the beauty of a passing motor car, but kill the negative thoughts as soon as they enter your mind. Stay positive and think positive. The quality of your life is determined by your thinking.

To my son: Don’t be scared of the dark my son. Always think about all the nice things you like. Think about the birds and skateboards and motorbikes, about sea horses and Lego blocks. Always think about nice things, no matter how bad it looks.

If there is anything in our universe that has a purpose, then it must be the sun. Like the sun in the fable, having purpose in life is having reason to live. “The purpose of life is a life of purpose”. Set yourself personal, professional and spiritual goals. Write them down and refer to them often. Give yourself a reason to wake up in the mornings. Know what you want out of life and go for it. Do not idle. Make yourself happy, find a job you love, make other people happy. Work every day to reach your goals, and set new ones if you have to. Be courageous and never back down from challenges.

To my son: Try and be a good boy forever. Say please and thank you every time. Work hard to be an adorable child to Mommy and Daddy, and be a good friend to your friends at school. Be true to yourself and be a happy child that always laughs.

The broad shouldered surfer symbolizes the art of looking after yourself; your mind, your body and your soul. Do not compare yourself with others, but always compare yourself with the “old” you. Build the strength of your character, develop mental toughness and live with courage. Run your own race. Live life with passion, whatever you do, do it with passion. Conquer your fear to achieve the things that makes you a better person. To achieve this, follow the “Ten Rituals for Radiant Living”:

1) Allow yourself a daily period of solitude. Find time to sit down and relax, to reflect and to clear your thoughts – Ritual of Solitude

2) Look after your body. Exercise daily. Refrain from taking any substance that will have a negative effect on your health – Ritual of Physicality

3) Watch what you eat. What goes into your body radiates in your actions and well-being. Live a life of moderation and not extremes – Ritual of Live Nourishment

4) Acquire a taste for knowledge. Never stop wondering, analyzing, questioning. Read as much as you can, watch informative programs and listen to the opinions of others. Be prepared to use the knowledge in difficult situations and stay clear of the garbage we find on TV and in magazines. Be very selective, but be open to everything – Ritual of Abundant Knowledge

5) Take time to reflect. Use your 15 minutes of solitude or your drive to work to think about your life, about the negative things you did and want to change, about your goals in life and how you are progressing. Don’t look for your failures in different places, find it in yourself and plan to improve – Ritual of Personal Reflection

6) Wake up early. No, there is no morning or evening people. Wake up early and experience the freshness of each new day. Wake up before the sun and the birds and prepare yourself for the day ahead. Do not start your day at the back of the race – Ritual of Early Awakening

7) Listen to music. Use music to uplift your spirit. Move your body and enjoy the rhythms. No matter what your taste it, if it makes you feel good, listen to it. If it irritates you or make you morbid, switch it off – Ritual of Music

8) Memorize uplifting sayings and quotes. Write it down and refer to it when times are hard. Say it our load if you have to, but use it as they usually have much value – Rituals of the Spoken Word

9) Build your character. Adopt good qualities and live them. Stop your bad habits immediately and focus on acquiring good ones. Do anything that cultivates your virtues. Live a life congruent to the principles of compassion, humility, patience, honesty and courage. Be approachable and be friendly, be a person of integrity - Ritual of Congruent Character

10) Simplify your life. Remove all the clutter. Remove your facebook friends that do not even remember your birthday if you have to, or the ones that do not inspire you or enrich your life. Throw away the stuff that you don’t use anymore. Avoid complicated relationships. Separate the wheat from the chuff and live a simple easy life. Stop following the trends and ignore the celebrities and what they do. Do not compare your life with other. Be content with less – Ritual of Simplicity

To my son: My son, keep watching the ants on the floor and never stop looking for the moon at night. Keep on exploring forever, never stop playing games and never worry about tomorrow. Continue with your sometimes irritating question: “Why, why, why?” Run around and have fun, never sit around and do nothing. Throw away your broken toys and give the ones you don’t use to people that can use them…and always eat your good food first.

The shark tooth necklace refers to self-discipline. Wear it as a reminder to always do the things you have to do, before you do the things you want to do. Having discipline is having freedom. Discipline gives you the freedom to eat your desert before your meal, because you have the discipline to finish your meal as well. It gives you the freedom to first chat to your mates before you start studying for tomorrow’s test, because discipline already made you look at your work when it was discussed in class. Self-discipline will provide you with the mental reserves required when life throws you one of its little curves. Self-control is mind control. When you master your mind you master your life.

To my son: Brush your teeth before you go to sleep even when Mommy does not say so and pack away your toys every time you have finished playing with them. Finish your food before you ask for desert. When you are grown-up and have discipline, you can eat it before your good food.

Just like the golden sand slipped through the fingers of the surfer, so does time slip through our fingers. It is our most precious commodity and once wasted, you never get it back. Live every moment you have, don’t wait till later. Be productive, be time conscious. Plan your day and do something productive when you have “time on your hands”. Never leave anything for tomorrow unless it is replaced by something of greater value. Make time for your friends and your family. Live as if there is no tomorrow.

To my son: You never waste one minute of your day. From the time your eyes open until they close, you are busy. Be like that for the rest of your life….

Serve others unselfishly. There is not a better way to feel good about yourself than to serve others. Always be ready to give a helping hand, just like the surfer did when he saw the mermaid on the beach. This the most essential of all virtues for enlightened living: when all is said and done, no matter what you have achieved, no matter how many summer homes you own, no matter how many cars sit in your driveway, the quality of your life will come down to the quality of your contribution. Stop seeing yourself as an individual; you are part of a collective. Make people around you happy and they make you happy. Life then becomes far richer and more meaningful.

To my son: Thank you for helping me start the “braaivleis” fire every time. I know cannot do it without you.

Embrace the present. The seventh symbol in the fable of the dozen dolphins is all about living. A truly joyful and rewarding life comes only through the process called “living in the now”. The past is water under the bridge and the future is a distant sun on the horizon of your imagination. The most important moment is NOW. Learn to live in it and savor it. Stop thinking about the past, you cannot change anything that happened or what you would’ve done “otherwise”. Stop worrying about the future or what might happen in a few minutes around the corner. Deal with it when you get there.

To my son: At the moment living in the now doesn’t matter to you my child, your past has no importance to you and your future only goes to the amount of sleeps you can count. If we all only could all live in the now like a child does. But you will grow up and soon you will have created a past and a possible concern for the future. DON’T. Keep living for the moment and take each day and each hour and each minute as it comes.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Surfing At Seli's

Here is a very nice aerial picture form GoogleMaps of the Seli 1 at Kite Beach. This illustrates why this beach has become such a popular spot for surfing and SUPs lately. On the photo one can clearly see the diffraction of the waves around the wreck, resulting in a nice peak zone for take-off with the options of lefts and rights. JUst a pity the Seli 1 will probably soon be something of the past....

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Seli "three"

The Seli 1 is still providing some perfect surfing waves, but it can now officially be renamed to the Seli 3, seeing that in two years it has been broken up into three pieces. After the recent oil spill scare on Kite Beach people are determined that the ship...or what's left of her...should go. I think it looks rather nice there in three pieces.

Coastal Cleanup at Kite Beach

Today was one just one of those perfect days. I started the morning with a Carlucci's breakfast, the Springboks beat Fiji in one of the Rugby World Cup games and the weather in Cape Town was just perfect. To top it all was the fact that it is weekend.

If it hadn't been for my injured leg from my recent motorbike accident, I probably would've been in the water with the rest of the guys catching waves. But intsead of that I decided to do my bit for the environment and joined the International Coastal Clean-up event. This event is internationaly held on the 3rd Saturday in September, and today happened to be that Saturday. Armed wit a plactic bag and some gloves I hit the beach searching for litter.

At first I was under the impression that it was something organized by the local kitesurfing community, so decided that I also needed to be there seeing that I also make use of this beautiful beach. When I arrived there I was actually amazed to see how many people were involved, and I think not many of them have ever been in the water to kite surf. Instead it was people from every ceed and colour and from as young as 4 years to about 70 years of age. All having one thing in common...the love for nature and the concern that our environment is deteriorating.  It was amazing to see what was picked up, even an old ironing board. Plastic, broken glass and polistyrene was probably the most common litter found, but at least I also picked up something useful, a one way valve for a kite which usually costs around fifty bucks.

After all the rubbish was collected a picture was taken of all the nature lovers and their rubbish. One would think that the larger the size of the rubbish heap in the end, the more succesful the day was, but a smaller rubbish heap actualy is a a good sign...less rubbish on the beach than last year.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Overstayed welcome

For days now I have been watching a rather intimidating guest in my house doing his Spiderman act from one wall to the other in my TV room. I don't particularly have problems with spiders, I believe like most snakes as well they are generally harmless and won't attack if they are not threatened. This huge spider...and believe me in spider terms this one is HUGE, has been hanging around helping me to get rid of some unwanted insects around the house. At night watching TV I made sure I knew where he (or she) was, just to plan my escape route should it lose grip and fall on top of me. With family over this weekend I informed them about the spider and that it has to be respected as any other visitor to my house. Much to the dislike of my mother of course, but she herself was a guest and didn't have much say in the matter.

This morning I saw the spider again on the wall and decided to take a picture of my new acquainted friend. Another friend of mine who knows a bit more about spiders confirmed that this spider which goes by the name of the Huntsman Spider or Rain Spider is not venomous, but when she told me they are usually found in pairs I got a bit worried. For one I would not like for them to reproduce under my roof, and secondly I have only seen one at a time. Was it the same one whose moves I have been carefully watching or was it only one of the possible two? The thought of releasing it back into the wild started to look more appealing, but I've heard that people actually keep them as house pets, so I decided against it. It was only after I looked at the pictures I have taken on my computer screen that I decided to get a bucket and to courier it personally to the nearest...or furthermost bush in the garden. Creepy is not the word. I have seen many of them in my garden before and I am sure this one belongs there too...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Potsberg Flower Reserve

Yesterday we went for a picnic on the Wast Coast Nature Reserve side of the Langebaan Lagoon. We did a quick drive through the Potsberg Flower Reserve before we returned home.