I (G) recently had the opportunity to return “home” for a very special occasion. And for those of you that don’t know me, “home” is Zimbabwe where I was born and raised and spent most of my life. I left some years back and lived in London before moving out to Spain in 2012.
Anyway, I have only been “home” a few times since leaving 13 years ago – twice precisely, one of which wasn’t the best of circumstances.
However, this time around, it was pretty special as I was going there to give my sister away as she was getting married, something I never imagined myself doing for many reasons.
It was a truly magical day and I have never seen my sister look so beautiful and so happy.
But what I wanted to share was a few “lessons” that I learned whilst I was at “home” because sometimes, you just don’t realize certain things. And yes, they may be quite obvious but in life, knowing something is totally different to actually experiencing it and it’s always good to be reminded.
Life is sometimes only understood backwards
There are times in life where you sit back and wonder “what the heck is going on?” and you can’t imagine things ever improving or being different. And then one day, you look back and everything makes sense – why things happened (or didn’t happen) the way that they did.
You’re stronger than you think you are
Being “home” brings up a lot of stuff for some people. It reminds you of dark and difficult times and yes, sometimes “home” for me way back then was challenging and I didn’t think things would change. But we all have those moments in life where it feels like we have gone backwards, when we feel weak and down trodden, when stress gets the better of us. Sometimes, you go right back to the start of everything and it shows you how strong you actually are.
You’re further along than you think you are
When I was 12 or 13, I found a tortoise on the road. We called her Tammy and when we first found her, she was the size of my fist. She used to “escape” from her cage until one day, Mom said to just leave her in the garden. So it’s been a really long time since I have seen her and when I did, I was shocked at the size of her. When you’re living your life, day in and day out, it can be difficult to see how far you have come because, well, because you see yourself every day ! But one day, you’ll look back and say “wow, really?”
Some things never change
And that’s OK. You’re gonna have some constants in your life that, whether you like it or not, are not going to change. There are unique things that make you who you are. There are things about you that people love – you might not like them but they are qualities that people like about you. I saw people I haven’t seen for years and it was just like stepping back into things in a strange way and they reminded me of some qualities about myself that I had forgotten about. It was good to be reminded of them because they’re still there.
Family is truly special
I come from a very small family – there’s just me and my sister. So we have both learned that creating a special family around you is important. We both have our own “extended families” made up of some extremely special people and sometimes, when you’re on opposite sides of the world, it’s good to know that your loved ones are surrounded by people who care. However, seeing my sister happy with a man that she loves who has 2 adorable children – well, there aren’t many words I can use to describe seeing a new family coming together.
We take things for granted too much
Having lived in a country where everything is available, it’s easy to take things for granted. The fact that you have access to water and electricity and internet at the flick of a button. The fact that you can (if you have money in your account) withdraw cash from an ATM and go shopping. However, when you have no electricity for 18 to 20 hours a day (electricity generally comes on around 22:00hrs and goes off again around 05:00hrs) and can only use running water at certain times or just be disconnected from the world due to no internet or simply have NO access to your own money – well, it’s a good wake up call to not just take things for granted.
The simple things really count
Following on from the above, in Zimbabwe you might be lucky enough to have solar power however, it doesn’t last forever and sometimes, the power runs out rather early in the evening. So what do you do ? You take out torches and just sit around the table, chatting. The dim light of a torch, laughter and conversation – when last did we just sit down and have a conversation without a mobile phone interrupting or music playing in the background ?