Deliberate Joy, Spontaneous Happiness and the Kindness of Strangers!
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Joy; sometimes you just have to deliberately choose it, and when you do, it feeds your soul.


Roodepoort, South Africa (06 July 2021) – Sometimes joy is a deliberate decision, especially during the third wave of this pandemic, as numbers climb and those numbers become names of people we know and love.

I have always enjoyed holding a space for my specialist physician husband to process the highs and lows of medicine. Recently, however, holding that space for him has brought about a dance between absolute privilege and acute sadness. I have journeyed alongside him and become a silent witness to the stories of those who have bravely fought and lost the battle to COVID. So, I found myself, this afternoon, contemplative, sad, and walking along the Jukskei River as the sun caressed the water with its yellow-gold evening light. A giant kingfisher’s shrill cry pierced the late afternoon sounds of dogs and voices as it flew past and perched ahead of me. iNhlekabafazi cackled while hopping up the white stinkwood tree, looking for their final evening snack, a flash of black and white.

And then I saw her: a little girl, being flung by her father, out across the river on a rope swing. She laughed and shrieked with abandon, her pure joy bouncing across the water towards me through her mask, hair flying out behind her like candyfloss. I stood and watched, drawn to the scene of carefree freedom. It was beautiful, and I walked away longing for my grandson, James, and wondering when I’d be able to push him over a river on a rope swing and hear him shout ‘higher, Gogi, higher.’

Thirty minutes later, I walked past the swing again on my way back to the car. It hung over the bank, empty, swaying slightly in the breeze. I suddenly stopped.

Why not? Why ever not?

I turned and ran back.

Grasping the rope, I jumped onto the seat and pushed my feet against the bank, launching myself over the water, hoping like mad I wouldn’t lose my shoes or fall into the river below. I breathed deep breaths and let go of the weight of the ICU and ventilated patients, of the stories that still lingered in my head. I simply swayed, back and forth across the water and laughed; pure joy.

Joy; sometimes you just have to deliberately choose it, and when you do, it feeds your soul.

As I got off the swing, making sure I didn’t topple forward off the bank into the water, I saw a man standing behind me. I felt embarrassed that my moment of grasped joy had been witnessed.

“Crazy, I guess, for an almost sixty-year-old to be playing on a rope swing,” I said, laughing.

“No, not crazy at all. Amazing actually. But I was just wondering how bad, and freezing, that water was going to feel if I had to jump in after you to rescue you,” he confessed.

We both burst out laughing.

“You were going to rescue me?”

“Absolutely,” he said, behind his mask, eyes smiling.

So, thank you to the masked man who stood and watched as I chose to grasp joy today with complete abandon. Thank you for being prepared to rescue me, should my attempt have failed horribly. You waited as I laughed and swayed back and forth across the river, letting go of the weight of this pandemic and allowing joy to fill my soul.

Thank you, because once again, I can sit and hold a space for someone else tonight.

Sources: Written by Kim Vercueil Ballantine – An amazing psychologist and life coach. Her husband is an ICU specialist at Wilgeheuwel. Shared with permission.
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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