Of late, in the past few weeks or so, I have noticed something happening inside of me:
I have, at odd and totally unremarkable moments, found myself overcome with love for random people. In love with random strangers, actually. I’ll look at a person at the Pick and Pay maybe, and feel this love bubbling up inside of me for them. Completely out of the nowhere, unbeckoned and uncontrolled by me, this blissful love surges through me, igniting my heart.
Mind you, this doesn’t last long at all. I just catch glimpses of it, and then I’m back to my old judgemental
The way it happens is I’d feel as if a part of me slips out of me and enters into the object of my love, the person standing in a queue at Pick and Pay, goes beyond them to a space where I would meet myself within them, where we are connected as one. I would feel that I’m welcomed to their inner home and had been expected there. It’s hard to explain actually, and you’re probably thinking this is weird. Don’t worry, so do I. Well, sort of.
Before I could fully settle into this connected warmth of random blissful love, life served me an ace one early morning, first thing upon waking up. I was checking my phone for the time, only to be accosted by that dreadful viral video confidently and unapologetically depicting humanity’s self hatred. Trump. Ya I know- are there any positive viral depictions of the man right now?!
As I watched that interview where that clean, normal looking white man declare us, me, a black person, stupid, and less intelligent than white people, I wept. It hit me hard, I have to admit, and literally brought me to my knees.
But my tears were not out of anger or frustration. That man’s words did not land as condemnation of us as a black race, but rather I received them as his own declared self-statements.
What did devastate me though, was the realisation that we, humanity, still hold such self derisive images of each other. I mean, how old is the human race? From Australopithecus Africanus, Mrs Ples’time, or Naledi then, if you prefer? How old are we? I’ll tell you. We are over 2 million years old ( I googled!) and all we can do is call each other names? Really? Really?! How far will we go in our evolution if we continue to hate ourselves like this?
More importantly though, the question I am asked is, do I have the capacity and will to extend this blissful love for unknown strangers, to Trump also?
I did. I had to. You see, the thing about connecting to feelings of oneness with all, is that all is all of us, the most loving as much as the most deplorable. It’s all us, or more precisely, me. Ubuntu. I am because we are, and we are because I am.
“May I be at peace; may I be happy; may I be free of suffering. May all of us, be at peace; may all of us be happy; may all of us, be free of suffering. May our leaders be at peace; may our leaders be happy; may our leaders be free of suffering”.
Random Metta. Loving-kindness meditation. It’s Buddhist, if you’re wondering.
It’s easy, naturally, to cast Trump (Zuma, Mugabe, or your favourite X of the moment) in the villain role. He is humanity’s perfect candidate, reciting his lines on point, never missing a scowl, a bark, a dismissive wave with his manicured fingers. The perfect vessel for humanity’s collective shadow.
In my moment of greatest disapproval and condemnation of Trump and his squadron, my InnerSmartAss self stops me with a ‘hang on, before your cast all these aspersions across oceans, ask yourself Makgathi, why is this showing up to you, right now…?’
You know that feeling you get when you hand your passport over to a customs official in a foreign country, and they open it up, look through it, and almost too casually say “excuse me, Ma’m, but…” Shit. That’s how I felt about this.
My InnerSmartAss self takes me on an introspective journey to help me out. Let me set the scene:
The other day I was watching Ken Wapnick on YouTube, (a humble and ever so wise and relatable teacher of A Course in Miracles) and he tells of a dream he once had, where he was in a group of people, when a voice asked him whether, if money were not an issue, he would change anything at all in his past, as it had happened. In the clip he tells us how he had responded with a “no” without even thinking too much about it. And the voice had told him “good, that’s the correct response”.
I had pondered on this, and had thought, well, it’s easy for him to say no he “wouldn’t change anything”, what with him being white and male in the world, of course he doesn’t have to change anything about his past. Besides, I bet he had had this dream at a point in his life when everything was in place for him and was making sense (note, this is my own conclusion. Ken doesn’t actually share what was going on for him at the time of this dream).
But my InnerSmartAss self doesn’t relent, ensuring that Ken’s dream question grips me, and invites me to reflect on my life and the script that’s guided every experience I’ve had, birthing the me I am today. Would I change anything in my past, if money was not an object? Hmmmm… It’s a tricksome question for me, since money is making itself such a central part of my script right now. Why must the questioner bring money into it in the first place?!
But I have been asked, and so must respond.
By the power of grace, I am able to step back and realise how crucial every experience, every let down and failure, every challenge and win, loss, gain, unfairness, discrimination, harassment, abuse, random hatred, violence, laughter, peace, fear, love, and everyone, including that man that slapped me on my way home from school when I was in standard 8, making my school hat fly right across the street; every thing has been exactly as it should have been in my life. Not one single thing has been out of line, regardless of how unwanted or embraced it was.
My upbringing script, well, my parents, those people that I cast to play in this role, were a beautiful, average, working-class black couple trying to raise seven children out of poverty into a better, more prosperous future through education and inner strength. They made sacrifices in order for us to thrive in a world of apartheid and Black Power, so we would know that our true nature is fierce and unshakable, beautiful and Divine, regardless of the lies the world tries to have us believe about ourselves. They loved us completely. It was a love expressed in actions, and not so much in words. But it was love.
Every single one of these life conditions I grew up in, and the people that journeyed with me, regardless of the brevity of our connection, every detail was scripted, hard as this truth is to swallow.
So, like Ken Wapnik, I, this black middle aged woman from the dusty streets of Mamelodi township, am shocked to realise that I wouldn’t change my script, no, but I would have provided all my players with a serene WellPoint of Love from which to drink, to be able to constantly replenish themselves, and be able to keep extending love to all in the world. I believe in the healing properties of love, and know that we can achieve more through it, than without it.
I’ve been a slow learner all my life, repeating mistakes with detailed precision. I have also blamed my script, but am now able to recognise that whatever is showing up for me is the truth of the script, and not the fault of me the player, or my actors. In fact all my actors perform my script excellently, and serve it perfectly. They do what they have to do, with the props provided, the scenes drawn up, each act expertly prompted. They enter the stage just at the correct moment, and artfully and quickly pull out alternative lines to keep up with me as I act surprised by their sudden presence, forgetting my lines, or changing them mid sentence, depending on my chosen response to a particular situation. Sometimes the scene I enter is so shocking that I forget that this too, actually, is written into my script, the very script I chose, before incarnation.
I’m sure you can see now that absolutely nothing in anyones’s life is random- that ‘random’ person at the Pick and Pay that I fell in love with, is not so random after all. She, and he, including the clean, normal looking white man on my whatsapp video that morning, insisting that I am less intelligent than him, even he too, is my actor, here to help me unravel great untruths that I’ve been fed, and have swallowed up throughout my life. All of them, but him in particular, are my greatest teachers, desperately trying to help me remember that I am whole, loved and magnificent, and that this magnificence is even too big to contain within a human body, a human brain. This physical me is just my vehicle, here to take through every part I play in the script of my life.
So thank you, for helping me not get caught up in the lines recited by my actors, but rather for forcing me to remember that these lines are encoded with important lessons for me. When I eventually calm down after some devastating lines, only then am I able to decode them, and retrieve the gift within. Only then can I lift the veil of lies, that would mask me from me. Thank you for helping me remember to look within for my true identity, and not only stay outside. As I remember who I am, and learn to love myself as I am, I am changing my script for you, so please pay attention. You have new lines to recite, a new reality to reflect, so please, wake up.
Everyone we meet, family, friends, chance fleeting meetings with strangers, these extras, the people we give birth to, our children, are also our role players, here to help us make sense of our individual and collective scripts. We cannot continue to blame each other for the parts we’ve assigned each other, and make significant positive changes in our lives. I don’t think so. But we can only try as much as we can, to constantly improve our story as a humanity, by firstly recognising that each of our individual and collective script is not cast in stone, but is malleable, and will change and evolve to reflect our growth and evolution. What shows up in the physical world, is but a mirror of our inner condition, and the only way to get a clean picture is not to wipe the mirror clean, but to change what is within, by each making loving decisions which serve us all, when living this life.
A quick note on our children, whom we love, of course, but please, let’s not underestimate how much they need to know that we love them. We are the ones that get to benefit from giving this love, as much as them. We don’t know what makes a child grow into a tyrannical bully of a leader, avaricious and indefatigable. But perhaps if these children beings grow up certain that they are loved and cherished, perhaps they would know that they are enough, and won’t have to pillage others’ souls in order to quench their unquenchable thirst.
Happy Valentine’s Day, beloved. I love you.
Ka lerato 🙏🏾