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The perfect weather to choose a word.

“Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now”. Viktor Frankl

Yesterday, the 31st of December 2021 was one of THOSE magnificent days on the Garden Route. THE perfect weather to end off the year... I’m always up early on perfect weather days instinctively, like I’m some kind of morning bird. I pop out of bed, like a champagne cork with a spring in my step and ooze positivity and congeniality.

It does make me realise I am obviously feeling better after covid too. Ha! Just like that! Imagine being well!

Quite the contrary though, to today. The 1st January which is cold, windy and over-cast. The perfect miserable bed weather to sleep, stay warm, read and ponder. I have been the remnants of a champagne cork today, that is sure! But let’s just say fun was had. Laughs were hard. Bubbles danced and celebration burst 2022 into reality. Boom. Happy New Year! Thanks to the Ramsay's for that fest! Over the years I have often done a hike on New Year’s Eve. I enjoy marking the occasion - saying good bye to what has passed and looking to the future of what will and can be. Peering into the distance from the top of a mountain gives me some comfort in getting perspective, despite not knowing what on earth it holds. Note to self we have never been able to predict the future, so we sit in wonder-lust over what THIS year will bring. BUT we can be comforted in knowing a few truths: “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. “As you start to walk on the way, the way appears”. Going into 2021 last year we hiked Kranshoek - a steep coastal walk outside of Plett. The path comes out at giant boulders on a ragged and rocky shoreline. We saw baboons and Knysna Louries and took pleasure in sitting on the giant rocks next to crashing waves and stared at evidence of the destruction of the fires from a few years ago. There is perspective if ever you need it. The year before, 2020, I hiked in the Drakensberg - I felt like a plant mainlining water, after an intense working year in Johannesburg. I was barefoot in the berg after having hiked to Nandi falls. I sat on a rock in the stream and ate my breakfast while my feet dangled into the freezing fresh water. The majesty of those mountains is one to behold. It’s awe inspiring and you quickly realise your insignificance in the power it holds and the responsibility to take care of yourself. The Drakensberg is a place you need to be organised and surrender your soul. It quite literally is the sound of music. (H-A-R-K) In 2019, I hiked Magaliesberg with sweeping plains that meet the rocky cliffs. There is an incredible sense of earthiness and belonging in those mountains. It’s the cradle of humankind. I watched the souring vultures, that live in the rocks, glide for hours on the wind. The sound of the grasslands and the whisps of air breathing in your ears is airingly graceful in its silence. The year before that, in the Karoo, we hiked a big dry mountain to see the expanse of the desolate wilderness with tenacious and determined children. I learnt more from little Rachel on that hike than any blister pack could ever teach you. There was immense beauty in the reflection that mountain brought and the retched tenacity we need to apply to preparation and keeping and staying determined, despite the pains. It also proved with the right support you can quite literally do anything. That hiked also turned into what reality came my way that year - endurance and resilience. The only way was through. This year we forest bathed along a stream at Jubilee Creek. Lazed in the sun, sat in the river and absorbed the weather. Afterward we hiked Knysna Forest - a dense, damp and spectacularly green hike of ferns, moss, leaves and trees. It was less difficult, but more intense. It also didn’t have a view at the top and we traversed it in reverse, by choice. Lots goes on in this thick forest. Birds. Bugs. Dragonflies. Spiders. Trees whisper, lots of things crawl and slither, branches break, leaves crunch, rivers flow, mushrooms grow and all kinds of noise can be heard. They say forests talk… I can believe it having been there a few times this past year. You know you are a visitor. And while there is no view per se - what it is, is an experience, a trail from one point to the next. And as you walk it, so the path appears as do the tall trees. You just have to remember to look up to get perspective rather than concentrate on the path alone. Seeing it in reverse too, means you get to see it from another view. But as I reflect on my hikes over the New Years’ Eve of the last 5 years (it would appear I have created a tradition) I relish in what hiking has done for me as a person. I get to immerse myself in nature, but I also get to think, admire, exercise and most importantly discover. I am very curious by nature as a person. I get to discover a new path every time, but I also get to find a different part of myself. I find hiking very healing. I never know what is on the path, what the weather will (actually) be on the day, what animals will appear, what views are to be seen. And I love the surprise it brings every time to find something, see the beauty in what that path holds and what strength I need to do it. It’s the same for the New Year… As many of you know I don’t make resolutions. I chose a word for the year and I make it the name of my strategy. This year it’s RESPONSIBLENESS, a word I found in Victor Frankl’s book Mans Search for Meaning. One of the 12 books I took responsibility in my goals to read this last year. So much of this word rings true for me this year both personally and therefore professionally. In what I want and in what I have set out to do. Responsibleness in my health and well-being. Accountability to what I wish to achieve and the groundedness with which is required in maintaining energy, determination and intention. Responsibleness in my dreams and taking them seriously. Responsibleness in my freedom and putting that liberty to use. Who knows what this year holds… other than the surety that we are to discover it. Postively. … and if the weather isn’t good - have a rain plan, by choice.

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