Chasing The Elusive Butterfly

IMG_2855He spots a butterfly. Runs towards it and tries to catch it. The butterfly flies away, with him chasing after it. Over and over he tries without success. He is my two-year old grandson.

But why? I ask myself while watching him.

Why does he keep on chasing the butterfly?

Does he think it can play with him?

Does he only want to touch it, feel it, experience its beauty?

Does he think holding it will make him happy?

Is he simply chasing it because it is a new experience?

As I watch him trying to catch the butterfly over and over again without success , it reminds me of people in general. Looking around me, I see people running and running trying to catch the elusive butterfly of happiness.

We chase after worldly possessions, new experiences, new relationships, new looks, in a never ending quest to catch the elusive butterfly of happiness.

But what does being happy mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary happiness is :

a state of well-being and contentment, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.

This seems to imply that being happy is a feeling, brought about by  the pursuit of pleasure, and the avoidance of pain.

A realistic goal? No.

This kind of happiness can only be found when all else is taken care of. In an ever-changing world filled with uncertainty, both economically, politically and emotionally, finding pleasure and experiencing no pain or negativity is truly like the elusive butterfly. It always sits on the next bush to be chased after, only to fail in catching it.

Life is never perfect and always harbours a surprise just around the next corner. Accidents happen, relationships come and go, health changes in the blink of an eye, economic status fluctuates without warning. All this  leave us gasping for air and wondering where happiness has fled to.

Being happy lies in finding the ability to be content no matter what the circumstances are. It is to smile when it is raining, to be grateful for the small things, to rejoice in every relationship which has meaning, to assist others less fortunate, to enjoy every day no matter what it brings.

The apostle Paul describes it in the following words:

I know what it’s like not to have what I need. I also know what it’s like to have more than I need. I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens. I am content whether I am well fed or hungry. I am content whether I have more than enough or not enough. Philippians 4 :12  

Above all life has taught me to be happy, is to know myself, to accept who I am and where I am to be content with my own companionship, for no one else is responsible for my happiness and contentment.

Writing this piece about happiness is to remind myself to stop chasing the elusive  butterfly of happiness, as it will always sit on the next bush.   To keep on chasing after it will cause more feelings of discontent and unhappiness. Therefore I will strive to find happiness and contentment in whatever life hands me every day.

What will you do?

Chase the elusive butterfly , or find happiness in what you have?

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I Came, I Saw, I Captured

The camera makes you forget you’re there. Its not like you’re hiding, but you forget, you are just looking so much. ( Annie Leibowitz 1949 )

 

03-Russell-Brand-Captain-Hook-by-Annie-Leibovitz

How true these words spoken many years ago proved to be in my life.

After experiencing many changes and heartsore in my life for the past year, looking so much that I forget was just what I needed. Constantly looking at my surroundings to see the beauty and to capture it through the lense of a camera, forced me to remember and see that life is still good and beautiful.

It has been a lifelong dream of mine to own a good camera and to learn to use it properly. Now at last I am on the way to fulfilling this dream. The camera is bought and I am learning to put it to good use.

In stead of just walking past everyday life and everyday objects around me I am more aware of my surroundings. My eyes are always on the lookout for beautiful shapes, colours and textures. I look at the world around me with new eyes, always consciously looking for that one view to capture.

When I feel alone, bored or just need to be uplifted, looking so much that I forget brings joy to my life. I still need to learn so much. Having to remember and learn about F stops, shutter speed, ISO, light exposure,composition,to mention but a few aspects of photography needed to capture a great picture, keeps my mind alert and occupied.

One day I might reach the point where I can do justice to the heading of this post and be  able to say: ” I came, I saw, I captured”.

In the meantime, I will keep learning, looking, practising and sharing some of my pictures here.

objects I love

 

 

Life is Like a Kaleidoscope, Watching Beautiful Forms Change

Kaleidoscope-horz 2

The word kaleidoscope literally means a beautiful form watcher.

Life is like being inside a “beautiful form watcher”. Everyday brings a new picture of changing forms and colours, some more beautiful than others.

Sometimes the colours and shapes are dark and ominous looking and at other times  bright, happy colours and  shapes dance through the day.

On the one hand life deals us the sad events like death in a family and on the other hand beautiful happy events balance the sad ones.

Such a happy event in our family is the birthday of our twins which is later this week. The birth of the twins was a traumatic time as they were born 6 weeks prematurely and both had to stay in hospital for more than six weeks due to complications. It was a time of darkness and ominous looking forms in the kaleidoscope of my life with possibilities of permanent hearing loss, neurological complications, developmental delays and many more looming in the picture.

P en C

When they eventually came home I spent the whole winter in the house with them too scared to expose them to the outside world as their immune systems were so compromised.  The kaleidoscope turned slowly and the picture became  brighter and more colorful, eventually forming  the beautiful picture of two young adults on the brink of life today.

No matter what forms and colours the turn of the kaleidoscope brings, I have faith that my Father in heaven is the One who controls the turn of the kaleidoscope and He knows  when to deal which colours and forms to my life.  He is also the One who gives me strength to cope with the colour and shape of the day.

I look back on  our lives and can truly agree with the prophet Jeremiah in

Lamentations 22:22-23

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

 they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness. 

Life According to The Size of a Picnic Basket

On Saturday the last of our three children moved out of the house to pursue her career and start her life as young adult living on her own.

As I was packing lunch for everyone who was helping with the move, I was struck by the thought that life can be defined by the size of your picnic basket.

The Small Picnic Basket

The Small Picnic Basket

As a young married couple we start out with a small picnic basket. After all there are only two people who have to eat and drink from the contents of the basket. This is the time when the picnic basket is filled with exotic and new things. There are new tastes to explore, new experiences to enjoy and new places to visit.

Untill ……..

The first child is born and the contents of the basket changes completely. Life is now filled with wonder, love, excitement and above all hard work. If a picnic is even contemplated, it usually is a hurried and simple affair as there is another focus in life.

Untill…….

One day the baby is big enough to join the picnic and the size of the basket, as well as the contents grow and grow and grow according to the number of children. Instead of exotic, the contents become practical, healthy and numerous. The experience however, is filled with laughter, fun, games and the joy of seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

As the years pass and the family grows, so does the size of the picnic basket. It has to expand to accommodate not only the children of the family, but also friends and friends of friends, maybe necessitating even two baskets.

Big Enough for Many People

Big Enough for Many People

Untill……..

The day dawns that the children leave home to live their own lives as adults. Then the picnic basket becomes small again, big enough for only two mugs, two sandwiches or biscuits. Maybe this is the time to revisit old memories or explore new places and experiences, a time to sit back and reflect on life and plan for the new phase that is starting now.

I am thankful for the years gone by, for three children who grew up and became productive and well-adjusted adults.

But most of all I am thankful that I am not alone and still have my husband to walk this new path with me and to enjoy the contents of our small picnic basket with.

Help! How Do I Release the Pause Button ?

My life feels as if the pause button is stuck!

For the past 14 years while my father has been in a semi coma  after a mugging I have had the feeling that  the pause button of my life is stuck . Our  children were thirteen and  eight years old at the time and now the eldest is married and the twins are graduating from university this year.  Where have the years gone I wonder? It all seems like a blur of time spent  going through the motions of living while at the back of my mind I was always waiting for that one phone call saying that he had died.  Even so, when the phone call did come, it felt unreal!

Many times I had to force myself to do ordinary things like going away on holiday as I knew I also had a family who needed me.  On the other hand there was my elderly mother who insisted on caring for my father at home. I felt torn between two worlds. There was my own world, my husband, children, friends, work, leisure, shortly, the world of living a life and then the other world, the world of the slowly dying ! What torture to see  my once active, loving  and larger than life father slowly dying with the days becoming weeks, the weeks becoming months, the months becoming  years and  eventually 14 years and three months exactly.

Now I find myself in a kind of limbo, an in between world with my finger still on the pause button of life, still  waiting for the phone call, still unable to comprehend fully that he has been released  and me too. Or have I? Now there is my mother 89 years old, frail and sad but still insisting on living on her own!

I know I am not alone and that many middle aged women assume the role of caregiver for their aging parents. It is a fact of life that this role reversal takes place, but it doesn’t make it easier. I don’t want you to be under the impression that I resent fulfilling this role. No, I take up this challenge because I love and respect my parents. I just need to gather the courage and strength to run this race to the end with patience, love and grace.

Therefore I will hold on to the promise I find in Isaiah 40:31

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.(NIV)

Portrait of a Dad

How do I capture the essence of a man who was my father, dad, friend, councilor and role model in a few words? I don’t think I can, but nevertheless I will try.

He was tall and  handsome with bright blue eyes which always twinkled with merriment and mischief. His eyes shone with intelligence and his heart was filled with love and joy of living. He could find pleasure in the smallest things and seemed to enjoy every aspect of life. Professionally, he was a businessman, intellectual and farmer, but  his real passion was farming.He loved his vegetable garden, fruit trees and above all his stud of Brahman cattle. He was a people person and was equally at home in the circles of highly placed people and in the homes of his farmworkers whom he visited regularly.

This picture shows the essence of the man loving and full of fun! 

What did his life teach me?

He taught me the meaning of  love. When asked what he would like for a birthday present, he brought me an old fashioned empty match box and    said: ” only this box filled with love!”

He taught me to reason without becoming too emotionally involved as emotions cloud our ability to think clearly.

He taught me the importance of  family and good relationships.

He taught me to have goals and actively strive to reach these goals.

He taught me that success only follows hard work and that no work is beneath  my dignity.

He taught me to have fun and find joy in small things.

He taught me never to look back, but to persevere and try new avenues if I reached a dead end.

He taught me never to stop learning new skills.

He taught me to live life fully every day.

He taught me respect for other people, their beliefs and way of living.

He lived for 95 years of which the last 14 was as an invalid. He died and we buried him yesterday, knowing that the most important relationship in his life that with Jesus Christ was intact and that he will spend eternity in the presence of God.I will miss him terribly but know  we will meet again.

Maybe he has more to teach me, this time about eternal life.

Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt?

After the fire before the rain

New growth after the rain

Last Thursday we experienced one of the biggest rain, thunder and hail storms in my memory. The skies darkened, thick ominous looking clouds rolled and gathered on the horizon, thunder rumbled in the distance and lightning lightened the sky in spectacular fashion.  I rushed home as I didn’t want to be caught in the storm and barely made it into the house before the storm burst forth in all its fury.

In the midst of thunder and lightning the wind blew and rain came down in torrents. Then came the hail, making an awesome noise on the roof as it pelted down and gathered in white piles against the house and in the garden.

The storm  was both majestic and awesome in its fury and reminded me of the following verse:

Job 38 : 25-27 “Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no one lives, on the desert, which is empty of human life, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground put forth grass?”

And then the ground did indeed put forth grass. Within days the burnt black veld which has been lying in wait for the much needed rain brought forth tender green shoots and I could go out with my camera to capture it.

Tender new grass

The ground put forth grass

So often while we are in the midst of the storms of life we forget who is in control of every minute of our lives and that He will always cause the sun to shine again and new green grass to sprout forth after life giving rain. So let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on Him who is the giver of all life.