Archive for the ‘Lessons’ Category

I sit here at 7:30 PM, at the table eating dinner by myself.
For this blog, I usually commit my thoughts to paper and talk about our attitude to the world. Change that, MY attitude to the world.
But my writing tonight concerns the life of a child in another part of the world. I haven’t met him or her yet. But I am about to change his/her life.

You see, I have created a system in my business that contributes a specific percentage of income to World Vision. Every time our client base grows by 10 people, we sponsor another child. The difference this time is that my current clients are choosing the next child.
Funny thing is, they are struggling.
They are realising that you can’t help everyone. For every child that you help, there are dozens that you can’t. Dozens of faces staring back at you from their website, dozens that will stay outside your reach.

So I sit here, sharing this dilemma with you. I have announced to the customers I have that at 9 PM I will make a choice.
Right now, I look over the list of suggestions. One lady has chosen a child because that child has the same birthday as her son. Another has chosen a child in Sri Lanka because she travelled there. Others have forwarded names of children all over the world for reasons not shared with me.

Before I sit down and make my final choice, I wish to share how this all came about.
I once read that for a person to be truly compassionate about others, they should give a percentage of their income to charity every month. The amount offered in that book was 10%. This prompted me to find my percentage. At that time, as a family, we had 2 World Vision children. That amounted to 1% of our income on a monthly basis. As I live in one of the most affluent countries in the world, my level of giving shamed me.
At 9pm, that number should move to approximately 3%.
Still not much.
But better than most.

Finally, I am reminded by writing about this, the story of a man’s experience walking along a beach. Strewn across the sand, were thousands of starfish that had washed up and were slowly drying out and dying in the sun. The beach stretched on and on. Just ahead of him he noticed a small boy picking up one starfish at a time, carefully tossing it into the ocean. The man reached the boy and asked what he was doing.
“I’m saving these starfish”, was the reply.
The man queried, “There are thousands of them. How can you possibly make a difference?”
The small boy bent over, picked up a starfish and tossed it into the ocean.
“I bet I made a difference to that one”, he replied.

Many kids will not receive my money tonight.
But one will.

 

Choosing a surfboard for a wave in a river is difficult.

As a river is freshwater it is not as buoyant as seawater. A surfer needs more foam underneath him to keep him moving. This newly made surfboard was now sitting in the cargo area of a plane flight that had just delivered me to São Luis, a town near the banks of the mouth of the Amazon river. Although the exact time of the wave’s arrival was known, 7 AM on Saturday, exactly how it would break was not known. We would have to travel up river the day before with a stick to test the depth as the sand bar shifts as the river curves through the Amazon jungle.

The adrenaline was pumping and I was full of the wonder of being in a new country and preparing myself for the experience of a lifetime. Even though I didn’t speak the language I was learning Portuguese
bit by bit. One conversation I will never forget. As we were moving up river in the early morning before the wave, one of the tour guides taps me on the shoulder and points to the river bank and says ‘Jacare’. I followed his direction to a three meter crocodile lying on the muddy bank. My eyes open wide. I turn to him. All that comes out of my mouth is, “Crocodile”.

He smiles and looks at me nodding and repeats, “Crocodile”.

Even thought the wave is due at 7am, we can hear it at 6.45am. Standing knee deep in mud on the banks of a river, waiting for a wave is not something you would expect on a Saturday morning.

The surreal nature of surfing in a river with crocodiles, piranha and anaconda hit me full force. You see, it’s not the experiences we have in life that changes us. It is the moments in between the experiences when things sink in. Therapists call them ‘teachable moments’. Only problem is that they usually occur when there is not a therapist in sight. That leaves just one person to make sense of it. You.

The wave itself is a sight that leaves even the tour guides initially speechless. The water is the colour of iced coffee. Branches and debris are pushed in front of the wave making it twice as hard for the surfer to negotiate his line.

In the event of falling off, I am instructed to wave my board over my head as the Jacare may wander over to see this new Australian addition to their menu.

The wave lasts about 2 hours. It is rideable most of that time which means the time you stand on your board – when added up – means you surf for nearly an hour. This probably equates to a 10 kilometre wave. A novice could learn to surf in just one wave.

At one stage we are told to get in the boat as we have to negotiate around a whirlpool that has developed on the bend of the river. A whirlpool? No one told me about that.

I ride the wave past towns and local people who have lined up on the bank to see the twice yearly sight. I lift my hand above my head to wave. They wave back. I surf on. They return to their lives.

Rising early

Final part comes out tomorrow…

I’m definitely no better than you.
Only difference is, right now, I’m writing this and you’re reading it.
I could talk to you about life events. Things that I don’t have a monopoly on.

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