Innerzela: Not losing sight of what is important


Pursuing success is the imperative of humankind.
Progress is inevitable, whether natural disasters or war slow us down. At times, progress is vital because of calamity.

We learn a lot from disaster, but some lessons are probably best avoided. We would rather serve as a model for others than as a lesson on what to avoid.

Take a family as example. Some people do it naturally. Others have to work at it. The reason many people work hard is to give their families a better life than the one their parents afforded them.
This is a reasonable and worthy goal provided the end result is a happy family.

Having money will not necessarily lead to happiness, but as Beyoncé Knowles recently said to Piers Morgan, it is good to not think of money.

The issue is not the money or the pursuit of it. The challenge is in striking the balance between the quest and family. For we are all going to die one day and this makes quality of life all that much more important.

Annual holidays are good for stress relief, getting away from it all and taking the family off to a resort. After all, we work very hard all year round.

Kicking the ball around in the garden with the kids or dancing with them spontaneously in the living room after a hard day’s work or at the weekend is far better. Such moments are priceless.

It is when we lose what we need the most that we begin to appreciate how much we really require it. It needn’t come to that. Make time to be spontaneous.

That sounds illogical. People generally tend to be what the French call casernier something like soldiers who need to report back to the barracks every day.

Is there a stream near your house, a woodland or city park? Park the car and take the family for a walk.

How about a simple meal at a restaurant? In the midst of an economic crisis, there is still room for an ice cream outing where everyone feels like a kid again. Simple little pleasures that make everyone smile for half an hour but whose memories last a lifetime.

Then there is the joy of having a family pet. This is something I am not good at, because I am not one to keep things in cages, and was in fact once chided for simply slapping food in to our dog’s dish without talking lovingly to the dog!

We have tried rabbits, fish, a hamster and tortoises. Either they died to flow of tears from the kids and fake funerals from me or they disappeared in the garden.

But whenever we gathered round the hamster doing its thing in its cage, it was a moment of shared excitement.

In challenging economic times, fuel comes at a cost, but very little beats a family joy ride to watch the sun set in the Matopos, at Domboshawa, or wherever is meaningful for you, complete with simple sandwiches and a few beverages.
Memories are made of this.

The joy of giving, even while you lack, is another way to make the most of quality time with the family. The poor will always be with us and we can give of our time, old clothes or money. Collecting the kids’ old clothes and putting them in the church collection bin is good.

Going with your kids to a children’s home or some such institution is better.

Of course, if you have much more than others, perhaps going shopping to buy new clothes for the same institutions is preferable.

If you cannot afford to give anything, you can give a helping hand with your time, knowledge, advice or presence at times when people need you to be simply there.

Zimbabweans are focused on survival as are many other people worldwide. These are difficult times for Americans, Europeans and Africans alike and this is a good time for everyone to reconnect with what is most important.

Retaining our humanity in the face of cynicism and despair is necessary. Start with the family unit and your pets, then extend your time and love to the rest of the community and beyond.

Innerzela constantly reminds us to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. It is not always about the motivational candle that leads to success.

From time to time, use the scented candles that create, spread and maintain good memories that make life worth living for everyone, especially in times of alarm and despondency. What are you going to do differently tomorrow?

Albert Gumbo is an alumnus of the Duke University-UCT US-Southern Africa Centre for Leadership and Public Values. Contact: