Achievement, Plans and Life

The second day of 2020 so we are well into the New Year. As always seems to happen at this time of year, the newspapers are full of their nominations for player/actor/circus clown or person of 2019 but to me, there can be only one real candidate, certainly for Person or Politician of the Year.

He set up a brand new political party and then barely six weeks later led that party to an overwhelming win in the European elections, becoming the largest single party in the entire EU Parliament.

That in itself was pretty impressive but he also brought down an inept Prime Minister, killed off a second referendum, forced a policy shift in the Tory Party and through a tactical approach in the general election delivered a sound Brexit majority in the House of Commons.

And he did all this from outside Westminster. That in itself is a feat without parallel in modern politics. So for me, the Person of 2019 has to be Nigel Farage, without whom the fate of the nation would be very different and millions of voters would have been loftily ignored by the political clowns in Parliament.

Yet there is little likelihood of Farage being given any official recognition by those particular clowns in Parliament.

I received a letter the other day that described a family Christmas in Zimbabwe and emphasised for me the way that Zimbabweans and Rhodesians before them are incredibly resourceful.

Needless to say, there was no electricity in Harare suburbs on Christmas Day, but it didn’t matter; everyone ‘made a plan.’ This particular family had only a small gas stove in which to cook the ham. They cooked chicken – no turkeys available in Zim -on a barbecue and ate it all in their garden. The mince pies were made in the gas stove the day before, as was the butternut & ginger soup, cheesecake & potato bake with cream & cheese. A table, placed under the trees in the garden was cool enough, and they ran an electric cable from batteries charged by the sun, to play carols & Christmas music. Their drinks were cooled in a plastic bath filled with ice, and even the Amarula found a spot to chill down in. They had Christmas hats brought over from England by a visiting relative, and crackers left over from the previous year. Even their dogs had a marrow bone each and everyone had a fine old time.

And really it is typical of a very resourceful group of people who expect a lack of amenities and always manage to make a plan. Although they live in a modern city suburb, their water comes on a truck, their lights come from the sun, and their resilience comes from experience. All of them and the generations before them grew up with a lack of ‘stuff’ and learned how to get by. Their children play simple games as we did long ago and there is rarely an electronic toy in sight. In twenty years’ time, those kids will be ‘making a plan’ to get Christmas lunch on the table the best they can. Without electricity, without water, without massive fridges and freezers, without ready-made shop-bought food. And they too will have a fine Christmas Lunch.

Now that it is all over, I hope you did too.

I want to start my 2020 with a bit of blatant plagiarism from a little piece that I did so enjoy reading. Let me tell you the story.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

Sums life up really. Have a wonderful year wherever you are and don’t forget to leave time for the occasional beer.

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