Category Archives: General

The Gift of Time

Last week I wrote a post about friendship.  I’ve started to think about the different ways in which we express our friendship and thus our love for one another.  Recently, over lunch, my sisters raised this point too.  This got me thinking how I show my affection, my love, my appreciation to family and friends.

A close friend and colleague of mine brought to my attention “The Languages of Love”.  There is a well-known book written on the topic – The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman. I admit I have never read the book.  It’s on my list of books to read.  It is my understanding the book is aimed specifically at intimate relationships.  Having said that, as my colleague described his understanding of the five love languages to me a light bulb lit up over my head.

Quality Time.

It doesn’t occur to me to give gifts to my friends and loved ones.  In fact when faced with getting a person a gift I am out of my depth.  I have no idea where to start, what would express thoughtfulness.

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to the USA to attend a conference.  Dear friends of mine live several miles from the conference.  With great delight I arranged transport to spend a few precious hours with them at their home.  Only when I arrived did the thought occur to me that I should have bought them a gift.  Something thoughtful and symbolic from my country, sunny South Africa. Suddenly I felt like I had somehow disappointed them.  I meekly said:  “My present to you is my presence.”  They welcomed it.  They welcomed me.  They understood.  Finally I understand.

The Gift of Time

Yours in lifelong learning,



For a great number of years I was under the impression I had a vast circle of friends.  My home would constantly be full of guests at mealtimes, braai times, in summer when the swimming pool was welcoming, and winter when the Jacuzzi was hot.  Great times were had.  Then my life circumstances changed radically.  Overnight I found myself without a home, with limited financial means, and suddenly no friends.  This left me confused.  What happened to all the people who had constantly surrounded me?  The reality was harsh for me to accept.  They were not friends.  They were acquaintances enjoying while the going was good, but not committed to walking through the rough times with me.  They did not concern themselves with my welfare.

How many friends do we have? How do we count this number – by how many followers we have on Twitter, friends on Facebook?  Who do we consider our true friends?

How we view and count our friends is personal and, no doubt, unique to each of us as individuals.

I believe I could make many so-called friends in a few hours.  I just walk into a pub and start buying all the other patrons drinks of their choice.  A few rounds of drinks later most are declaring their friendship to me.

For me true friendship develops and grows over time.  Through the good times and the bad ones. True friendship is mutual and a constant two-way street.  I admit I consider myself a late comer to understanding the nature of true friendship and what it means to me to have friends, and to be a true friend.

These days I have a handful of kind people whom I consider true friends.  They consistently love me, support me, and delight me, regardless of our circumstances.  I constantly strive to be a true friend to them.  My spouse used a phrase to summarise friendship:  “We ride the storm together.”

This phrase reminds me of one specific time when a friend astonished me with her thoughtful and kind actions.  My spouse was out the country.  Misfortune struck my family.  I had to drive out of town to attend to family matters and a funeral.  I got on the road to return home much later than expected.  Little kitty would be missing her dinner.  Matters needed attending at my home.  I had no dinner prepared for the evening.  Imagine my surprise on my return home to find my front door unlocked and standing open.  Inside was my friend just finishing cleaning my kitchen, kitty fed, and a tub of home-made soup ready for my dinner.  On seeing my arrival she turned and put the kettle on to make me a welcome cup of coffee – no words, no questions, just true friendship in action.

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” – Oprah Winfrey.

I have found people in my life who don’t worry about taking the bus. They are walking barefoot with me along this journey of life, and I with them.  I count them on my hands.

You know who you are.  I love you and cherish you, always holding you in my thoughts and prayers.  I am a better person for having you in my life.  Thank you.

Yours in lifelong learning,



Today I write about honour.  Perhaps a curious subject but one that I’ve been pondering on for the past few days after proclaiming to my spouse, rather presumptuously, that I am a person of honour.  They challenged me, asking:  “What makes a person honourable?”  This got me thinking am I an honourable person and, more importantly, what does it mean to be a person of honour.

One of the definitions of honour I found states this:  “Adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct” Oxford Dictionary.  A simple Google search revealed this:  “the quality of knowing and doing what is morally right.”

This begs the question, again, am I an honourable person.  I believe that when the going is easy and the decision to do what is right in the moment is cut and dry it’s easy to do the right thing.  For me an example might go like this:  I am in a store, a bit short on cash, and see a chocolate bar that I yearn for, but can’t afford.  I know stealing is wrong, not to mention against the law, so I don’t put the chocolate bar in my pocket and walk out without paying for it. I leave it on the shelf.  Easy decision for me, not much contemplation goes into that decision.  I must highlight I’m talking from my own perspective – such a decision is easy for me.

But when the going is tougher and the decisions are not so easy we can be challenged to our core.  When we face difficult situations where taking the easy way out seems appealing, and doing what is right can be difficult and challenging, we face some tough decisions.  For me an example might go like this:  I go to the store and buy a bunch of groceries.  In my basket of goods is six tins of tuna.  I pay for my groceries and head on home.  At home I inspect my bill and discover I only paid for five tins of tuna!  Tough decision time for me.  Sitting here in front of my computer writing this post the answer to this seems easy and obvious to me.  However, I am challenged as I write this!  Would I get in my car, drive back to the store to pay for a R10 tin of tuna? Would I rationalise with myself the store already makes enough profit from me, that it’s their mistake so why should I go to all that effort. Would I take the easy way out?

I happened across this touching statement by Ayn Rand:  “Honor is self-esteem made visible in action” (The Ayn Rand Letter, Jan. 14, 1974).  I believe that with self-esteem is self-respect.  If we respect ourselves we improve our self-esteem.  By respecting myself the decisions I need to make about honour become clearer.  But I need to be aware of Ayn Rand’s entire statement which ends with the word “action”.  I need to put my self-respect and self-esteem into action.  It’s not enough make the right decision, it’s important to put that decision into direct action. This reminds me of an age-old saying:  “Actions speak louder than words.”

As I progress on this journey called life I have come to understand that making an honourable decision is worthless if I don’t back it up with honourable actions.  Only when I am doing this consistently may I consider myself an honourable person.  Being an honourable person is not a once-off activity, but a lifetime commitment to doing what is right.

“All men that have honor are kings, but not all kings have honor… Honor is what no man can give you and none can take away. Honor is a man’s gift to himself.”  –  Robert Roy MacGregor.

Yours in lifelong learning,