Juxtaposition: Co-existence in the time of all or nothing.

[A reflection prompted by a corrugated roof; a wild body of flowers and plants.]

The first floor of my gym overlooks a golf course. It provides a view of the upper middle-class dream. The brand new executive cars that are always gleaming in the car park next to the club house. I mean, always gleaming. Rain, sun, wind; you name it, these cars are always glistening and spotless. It’s a phenomenon I have to look into. But that’s for another day.  The members-only clubhouse. The very fit-conscious executives and their business partners- there is no one more self-conscious than the early middle-aged executive; no beer bellies here- trim and supreme. The caddies on the green. The expensive-looking clubs. The golf carts. Aspirational.

What really catches my eye however, is another view. It never fails to make me pause and reflect. I see it almost every day, but it makes me smile, stop and think a little about the beauty of life and nature, and to feel really grateful to be alive at that moment.

A rusted corrugated red roof of the outhouse garages where the little golf carts come home to rest after a long day of leisure. Peeling, long-exposed to the elements and corroding.

A sprouting of purple flowers on a leafy green bush. I have no idea what they are; I just know that I like them. Wild and overrun, uncut and droopy. 

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Usually by the time I make it to gym, the sun is setting. Golden delicious. With the advent of December, the rainy season has started in earnest. Often there will be a raging storm, a little hail sometimes or simply angry moody grey fluff gathering menacingly in the distance and making me impatient to work out and head home before I get caught in the mania of rain traffic in Harare.

Whichever it is, cooling rain after a heat-wave or the delicious golden shimmer of an impending dusk, I am always in awe of the beauty surrounding me. Perhaps I am altogether too romantic for my own good, but it is something I have made my own and make no apologies for; there are very few things as stunning as nature which we get for free in this world.

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What makes this particular view special to me is the juxtaposition of man-made with nature’s design. Incredibly hard and unbelievably soft. As different as possible but making the most delicate and calming picture.

Our world is currently in a time of great polarization, divisiveness, intolerance and hatred; it is ugly and disconcerting. There is an obsession with having things done one way or not at all. One is either with us or they are against us, even if they have not said this much. There is no compromise or engagement. That is unsustainable. Even our environment shows us that the only way to move forward is by encouraging compromise and co-existence; allowing diversity to flourish. It is possible to accommodate everyone and everything; it just requires a little effort, understanding and a lot of empathy.

How many times do we angrily reject something or someone whom we feel is a threat to our comfortable existence? We fail to acknowledge their challenges, are dismissive and speak over them, silencing them and cowing them before our own views which we believe, for whatever reason, to be superior.

Ultimately, the most gorgeous picture is not created by only having one version of something. There has to be nuance and difference for anything interesting to result. The only reason this particular view makes me stop and think is the way that the rusty lazy red of the roof blends with the striking purple, the leafy black trees in the background as dusk approaches, and the yellow and green of the grassy knoll. I would not take a second look at a green field. As it is, I am writing almost a thousand words inspired by a little piece of land simply because of the richness it embraces.

In the same way, we need to learn to co-exist, to respect the differences which we have and to actually using them to enhance our relationships, realities and experiences. That is what makes this journey worth anything at all; the ability to see others for their realities and capabilities and respecting what makes them, them. Diversity and individualism are not dirty words. There cannot only be one truth and one point of view; what a sad and bland existence.

 The freedom to live one’s truth unharmed by others, causing no harm to others; that is the true measure of tolerance and humanity.

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