Incredibly, it’s been almost 2 months since the house burnt down and we all ran for our lives in what I hope to fuck will be the most terrifying night of my life (I hope there is never one MORE terrifying than that was).
The kids and I are still homeless, in that we have somewhere to stay until November and then we need a new plan. Not sure yet what that will be. My Mum has managed to secure a permanent residence so that is one less thing to worry about – thankfully.
The most striking thing of all about the aftermath of this disaster, is the range of human reactions. Or should I say, the range of humans.
For many, the immediate reaction was to try and help in some way. Knysna witnessed an awesome outpouring (or in pouring) of human kindness. There have been clothes and food and all kinds of necessities flooding in to help the affected.
I personally have been taken shopping by total strangers and friends alike, and been bought things like underwear, a microwave, and deodorant! You can’t believe how many things you have in your house until it’s gone!
Friends have sent boxes of stuff for us from far and wide, money has come in to help us keep going, even couches (and wine!) have arrived from humans I know and humans I don’t know. One kind mother, having no other way she could help, but wanting to do something, has even offered to pack my son a lunch box and send it to school with her son, every day for the rest of the year!
For these people I am so filled with gratitude and emotion it’s hard to find the words for it. I have witnessed the enormity of the human spirit, and seen friends swallow their own pride and bury painful hatchets with each other in order to come together and help us.
Then there is another whole side of humanity.
There are those who jumped at the opportunity to make a profit out of the disasters. From insurance brokers and contractors to the guys who stole my stone bird bath and my ceramic fire place (the only things that were left standing in my home). There were people who unpacked my (misdelivered) boxes and stole things that were sent to me by dear friends.
There was also a middle of the range human that simply didn’t give a crap. The couriers who delivered my things to the wrong place because they couldn’t be bothered to drop them off with me specifically when the disaster had created a perfect excuse to be lax (this happened to me TWICE, the second time a fridge and bed I was sent were redistributed to who-knows-who).
There are other human people who really were just plain indifferent.
I realised two truths, through all of this, and I had one existing theory confirmed.
1. Not all people are good people.
I have always believed that humans are essentially good and that sometimes they go astray and do bad things. This is not actually the case. Some people just plain suck balls.
2. The good people who are good people are fucking gems.
If you find one, protect them, love them, be kind to them, because there are people whose hearts are selfless and pure and they are the shining lights among us. Never underestimate these people. It takes a lot more courage to be kind and gentle than it does to be a dick. They are strong, and they are the kind of people I hope my children will grow up to be.
3. The re-confirmed belief: You can choose which of these to focus on, and that will shape your reality.
After having experienced both the unsung angels and the dregs of humanity (sometimes wearing Prada jeans, sometimes in overalls) I have realised, yet again, that my experience on Earth is defined by which I choose to focus on.
Did I get robbed and screwed over? Yes, a little bit.
But I am also abundantly blessed in ways great and small.
Often it is the littlest acts of kindness that really bring me to tears. The R500 in my account with the reference “get coffee”; the airtime and data sent by a clever friend who knew how many calls I’d be getting; the new hoodies we were given by my doctor – who insisted they were from a “friend”, but which happened to be our exact sizes; the flash drive full of TED talks and music sent by courier from an old friend; the trust set up my best friend; the cash deposits collected by my oldest friend; the duvet cover; the tupperware from the union of Jewish mothers in Oudtshoorn; the wine sent by a very wise friend! Donations from people I have never met and probably never will.
These are my heroes. All of them, all of you.
So no, I don’t know yet where I will be in a few months time. But I do know it will be good. I do know that it will be better than I could have possibly hoped, it will be an exciting new adventure, and as much as I always think that I am alone – I never really will be.
I choose to focus on the beautiful side of humanity.
Thanks guys, for being so awesome.
I look forward to paying it forward some day soon.