Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Wednesday 15th April

Sometimes we find ourselves in the presence of really great people – either by chance or by design. Sometimes, too, by invitation.

Today I had tea with Jonathan Jansen. Literally.

What a great man. What a powerful, impressive, influential, humble, ordinary man. He’s an educator, so what does one expect, I suppose?!

But then again, I spent most of the day in the company of really great people – whose names hardly anyone would recognize, who have not achieved great things, who do not have a national reputation and wide influence, who are just ordinary. Yet, these people have influenced me and changed me for the better in some way.

These are the students on the workshop we are presenting at UFS this week: postgrad students from very different backgrounds, studying in very different disciplines.

I learn so much from those I teach, every time I teach.

If only we could be aware of how much we learn from so many different people all the time. Everyone has something to offer, if only we’d be open to the learning and would make the effort to just look around us.

Sometimes there seem to be so many ‘ifs’ in the world.

I’ve found that I’ve used very few ‘ifs’ with regard to the cancer thing. Maybe we become all philosophical and ‘iffy’ about things that we really could change if we just took the time and made the effort – and we know this, but just don’t do what could be done.  About things like cancer, which we cannot change, but only treat, there are so few ‘ifs’ that could, or should, be said.

If I’d started ‘iffing’ about the cancer thing, it would be like one of those situations where I would have been able to suggest a myriad of possible ‘other realities’, without changing the actual reality in any way. And I would have wasted so much time and energy on trying to imagine a different reality, while the only real option was to concentrate on accepting what was, understand how it had to be treated and to allow the treatment to happen.

I never had the energy for ‘ifs’, because it was what it was. I needed all my energy to get rid of the cancer. And look at me now!

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