Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

The Lessons we Learn

You can learn lessons from some of the most amazing places – even from a guy stranded on Mars. Well, in a movie. Learning a lesson from a movie is, I suppose, not totally unexpected and can be quite logical actually.

Depending on the lesson.

We’ve just come back from watching the new Matt Damon film, The Martian, in which Damon’s character is stranded on Mars and has to do what he can to stay alive. He knows he may well die, but he also knows that he needs to do things. As he says, late in the film, one should solve one problem, then the next, then the next.

Not a bad philosophy to follow through life – and especially when you face something like cancer. It’s really the ‘step-by-step’ approach, voiced in another way.

It’s actually a very useful way to approach anything, really. Whenever I walk into the kitchen and see the dishes piled up and know that the dishwasher needs emptying before I can do anything about making sense of the chaos, I have to steel myself to take out the first cup – then it all seems so much more manageable.

Sometimes I think how easy things would be if we’d just simply learn the lessons and then carry through with what we have learnt – how simple and so much easier life would be. The thing is, I suppose, that things have to kind of ‘not work out’ the first time for the lesson to be learned anyway.

Another good source of valuable lessons to be learned is history. A visit to Maropeng, specifically to see the Homo Naledi fossils, screamed this eloquently. There are a number of different lessons to be learned on many levels in the Cradle of Humankind. In some ways, though, they all come down to one thing: to value who you are, where you come from and who you are on this journey with.

Family, above all, is what we should value most in this world about which we actually know so very little.

There is so much at Maropeng that is mind-boggling, not the least of which is a display that squashes the history of the world into 12 hours, of which man has been on this planet for 2 seconds. The vastness of time and of space absolutely mind-boggles.

Somewhere, though, there is some meaning, which we may never find, but for which, as a species, we continue to strive.

On a more personal level, the search is best taken in the company of those who mean the most to us.

After all, isn’t any journey the most fun when shared?


  1. saskia says:

    Hi Jane, I’m Jed’s mom or John as he may have introduced himself. John bought your dear Mom’s home and is on a journey too….

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