礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù ) – the Gift of Patience

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Nothing in this life happens in a single moment.

Don’t be fooled by the success stories of Bransons and Gates.

You’re not just suddenly succesful one day.

Neither are you, suddenly,  a failure one day.

Or divorced.

Or unemployed.

Or married.

Or a parent.

Life happens over time.

Our being is affected over time.

We wake up gradually.

We gather the storm.

Good or bad.

And then it breaks.

I was standing with my boots slightly sunk in soft Kalahari sand.

The shade of an old Matopi-tree giving some respite from this thirstlands beating sun.

Awie was showing me his cattle.

Beautiful creatures.

Just on the other side of the fence stood a cow with her calf.

Deep red, well fed, the calf feeding fresh milk, while its mother slowly chewed on the day’s grazing.

There was a rustle in the grass.

A slight breeze.

‘You see that cow?’ Awie enquired.

He was a deep man.

Now no more in this time and space, his fingerprints still lingering on my heart.

‘I got her when she was just a calf,’ he continued.   ‘I raised her.  Two years.  Then I put the bull with her.  2 months later she was fertilised.  9 months later that calf was born.  I’ll wait for the calf to grow, maybe six months, maybe 18 months.  Let’s say I wait just 6 months.  That’ll be more than 3 years from when I got that cow, until it yielded its first sale.  I don’t know if that first sale is real profit.  Maybe.  Some say so.  If you think of the cost of land and labor, the price we get, maybe the second calf would be the first real profit.  Four and a half years after I got her.  That’s a long time to wait for an investment to yield returns.’

Awie wasn’t complaining.

He wasn’t the typical complaining sort.

He had an optimistic spirit.

‘It’s the same with trees.  You plant.  You wait.  You feed & water.  You prune.  Eventually, if you’re lucky, there is fruit.’

Awie looked to the north.

Some dark clouds, rain clouds, were gathering on the horizon.

A smile touched his cheecks.

‘It’ll be good if it rains.  Rain is always a blessing.’

I smiled.

‘It is the same in life,’ he says.  ‘Nothing happens in a moment.’

‘It takes time.’

‘And so much can go wrong.’

‘Drought.’

‘Disease.’

‘Death.’

‘Dissapointment.’

‘Eventually there is a yield.’

‘Eventually.’

‘Sometimes, not what you expected.’

‘Mostly not what you wished, for we are greedy beings.  We always wish for the stars.  But the clouds are wonderful too.’

And the he starts walking away to go and check on a water trough.

Stopping himself a few steps away.

‘I hope you’ll receive the gift of patience, Theunis.  I hope you’ll see the yield when it is yours.  Life would be good for you, then.’

In this moment I am far far away from my friend and the sand and the sun of the magnificent Kalahari.

In this moment I remember our encounter.

And I am grateful that Awie taught me something of The Way of the Gift, more than a decade ago.

And I am grateful that I can be reminded, here, now, in the far far East: nothing happens in a single moment.

And I see yield.

And life is good.

As I patiently hold this gift close to my being.

And as I walk away, to read & teach, I say to you, as it was said to me: ” ‘I hope you’ll receive the gift of patience. I hope you’ll see the yield when it is yours.  Life would be good for you, then.”

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