After a few cold, wet, and freezing weeks, I saw the Mother City come alive on a bright and sunny day recently. For the city’s homeless, especially, it was a blessing.
I saw people emerging from their makeshift shelters to wash themselves and their clothes in the rainwater gushing off the lower slopes of the mountain.
Seeing so much similar activity as I drove through the city and the suburbs, I was reminded of the power of gratitude.
There is a school of thought that sees abundance as a state of mind, more than a state of being.
“I am rich because my life is full, rather than because of what is in my bank account.”
Those smiling and energised people, in all their frenetic and joyous activity, seemed to be the epitome of that.
They were celebrating the blessings of the moment, enjoying the respite from the cold and damp.
At the same time, there’s nothing like a sunny day to prepare for a rainy one (and those are back, as I write this).
It was a reminder, too, of the depth of resilience in the South African spirit. We can weather tough times and still be happy, grateful, and gracious.
The desire to “be the best you can be” often survives in the most inhospitable environments.
In helping me reframe things I sometimes consider to be a struggle – such as making smart choices about spending more versus repaying debt, or choosing between competing luxuries – wash day on the streets gave me a healthy reality check.
There is nothing quite like shifting your eyes from what you would like to have to what you already have, to help you resist the urge to splurge.
That is not to say we should focus only on the good things, or take the momentary joy of an impromptu wash-and-dry in the sun as a sign that all is well for those living on the streets.
There are so many ways to help, beyond opening the car window and handing some cash to someone.
Volunteer time to an organisation that feeds people, or make a donation to one of the army of organisations that provide a lifeline to the homeless.
On cold days and sunny days, the gratitude you feel can make a difference.
This article was commissioned and first published by Change Exchange:
The lesson I learned on the day I saw my city awash with joy