Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Why not today?

Pourquoi pas aujourd’hui? Before you even get out of bed in the morning, give thanks and ask what can I, what must I do today? No, I’m not talking of your work to-do list. I’m talking about what you should, indeed must, do for your loved ones today.

This message recently struck me hard and it hurt, second time over. It seems that Durban does me no favours, or perhaps it’s out to teach me some lessons. The first episode came about in March 2011 when I finally relented to taking aunt Sienie to say goodbye to Durban, her beloved holiday destination over many years. The whole trip was a challenge to me from the moment I collected her very early in the morning. Here is an excerpt from a film script I wrote about it.
Aunt Sienie's skirts
“05h50” André puts luggage into overhead compartment. Plane is empty. Santie is on slip-chair with several BA CABIN STAFF. She panics, hold hands up and across cabin entrance, blocking the way.

                        BA CABIN STAFF 01
          André! Kom nader sodat sy    André! Come closer so 
          jou kan sien.                that she can see you.

André spins around, steps closer, smiling.

          Hier’s ek Santie. Kom sit.   Here I am Santie. Come sit.

Her face softens when she sees him. He stretches out his hands.
Hilton Durban hotel lobby
It continued even before we got into the hire car, right through to the Hilton hotel as I constantly had to intercede since she couldn’t operate anything in her room. The return journey was equally dramatic.

André stands on tarmac next to disabled persons articulated vehicle. 4 BA women CABIN STAFF from flight march in file towards him, staring intently at him, their faces shining oddly bright. He watches them.

ANNE is the BA Cabin Chief, very professional and compassionate.

                        ANNE, BA CABIN CHIEF
              You will be blessed!
              Your children will be blessed!

They file past him to left. … Santie inside vehicle is upset.

                        ACSA DISABLED ASSISTANCE WOMAN 01
      André, klim liewers weer op!   André, rather climb up again!

André runs to vehicle’s side, climbs up steps.

Two months later aunt Sienie was smiling sweetly at me from above as her hairdresser commiserated with me.

More recently I was obliged to attend a meeting in Durban for Africa Promise, our client in New York. This was arranged three days in advance. Getting up at 04h00 to catch the 05h55 flight I’m confident that I am in good time. Much to my shock the queue through security looks like peak traffic and with passengers already boarding I run towards gate A11 when finally cleared.

Arriving one hour before my meeting I set up and prepare but am not sure what for as I’ve had no briefing. It turns out that plan A is not on the cards and I quickly have to regroup and make a counter offer after consultation with the US. The day’s work done, Vincent takes me back driving leisurely, giving me French lessons en route.  Now I’m taking strain to stay awake. Thankfully I sit down, ready for the take-off at 19h10 with a French couple next to me oblivious of everyone else. Falling asleep almost instantly despite the seats not tilting back I wake an hour later and my eyes immediately pick up a programme on Kalk Bay on the video above me. This brings back good memories of some months previously. Next the in-flight magazine falls open on an article describing the joys of Buffels Beach at Cape Point Nature Reserve, Kalk Bay and Simonstown – all on the itinerary of that blissful day. Two weeks later hopes of a reunion are shattered.

This brings me back to my question. You’d better be sure that what you do today adds real value. Remember, it’s not so much about you, but what you do with and what you say to your loved ones. Don’t count on a second chance, so use today well.
Now many photos and an unsent box filled with presents remind me daily ‘what really matters’. Clearly I have more to learn. And I am not done yet with Durban as I am about to pack my bags to do it one more time. The difference is that lately I have this incredible lightness of being and warmth inside me, as if I’m floating on a cloud next to the sun. But actually it’s never been about me... Psalms 128: 2-3
mango airlines slogan “Why not today?”
The Holy Bible: Psalms 128: 2-3 
Photo credits: Anton Blignault

© Anton Blignault, Cape Town