Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Tuesday 21st April

Travel is never bad for the soul. There is something particularly wonderful, though, about travelling through the Free State during a glorious Autumn late afternoon when the sun makes everything golden and presents the most amazing display of artistry and virtuosity itself. That is simply wonder.

I am in the Free State again, to present another workshop. This time we are staying in Clarens and travelling to the QwaQwa campus for the presentations. I was reminded on the journey that good company and lots of chatting can really make the distance fly.

Even though we arrived just as it was dark and never had a chance to see the lovely views around here, it is good to be back. It is just a little weird to be here and not on the farm.

Experiencing familiar things from a different perspective is always an interesting opportunity, though.

In many ways, that’s what cancer does to a person, I think: gives you the opportunity to look at things differently.

I cannot say that I have, in the last number of months, developed a radically different way of looking at the world – at least, one that has really changed the way I do things. I have, however, definitely developed a little more patience, I think (which, for me, is a huge thing). I have also definitely had it deeply ingrained in my brain that we can take nothing forgranted – and that things do happen to anyone

I also know, again, the value of family and support. And of being able to share hard moments and demanding journeys.

I sit in this lovely lodge, which may not be a 5-star hotel (actually, I am not sure of its rating), but which may as well be rated as such. I enjoy the opportunity of the experience and am looking forward to meeting and interacting with the students. I am also glad, though, that this is only for 3 days. I like being at home. I like being with those closest to me.

I think we all do.

I also think, though, that familiarity and a kind of ‘every day’ feeling can tend to blunt the edge of our appreciation and our understanding of the value. It does not have to be something like cancer to help us to re-look at who and what is around us. It doesn’t even have to be travelling away for a time.

Sometimes, it is simply the effort of re-looking at where we are and who we are with that can reinforce the value of everything we have and with which we are surrounded. These moments happen often and, mostly, are not really acknowledged. Sometimes, the realisation springs into our minds after the fact and we understand. At others, they pass unnoticed. Then there are the moments of significant separation (even for short times) or of unfortunate circumstances and we just know. We understand where the value in this world lies.


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