Hello! My name is Helga van Niekerk and I am 49 years old. For the 20 year old, I am rather long in the tooth; but for the 89 year old, I am still a youngster. I weigh 71kg, which is heavy for a lady who comes in at 60kg, but very light for someone who weighs 90kg. I can run 5km, which is quite ridiculous for those who eat up a 42km marathon. But it’s an amazing achievement for those who struggle to walk 1km. I live in an ordinary house, on an ordinary street, in an ordinary suburb. It’s a completely insignificant house for those who live in Bishopscourt, Houghton, 10 Downing St or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But for those who live in Masiphumulele, Crossroads or the slums of India, it’s a mansion. I earn enough money to pay my bills and save a bit after that, enabling me to buy an economy class ticket to an holiday destination every few years. For the regular business- class traveller, the economy class ticket is a nightmare, but for the middle aged housewife with only 1 income and 8 mouths to feed, a holiday is a pipe dream that she knows can never be achieved. I drive a very lower end car, with no airbags and a ‘tinny’ body. For the owner of the new Mercedes SLK, they wouldn’t be caught dead in such a car. For the Big Issue seller at the traffic lights, owning an Atos would be like he’d won the jackpot. Then what about jobs? Radio presenter sounds pretty good to me, until I imagine what Oprah would think of my job and then I think it’s very insignificant. Selling the Big Issue sounds very desperate, until I think of Michael Schumacher who would prefer to be able to sell Big Issues in South Africa than be lying in a coma in a high end German hospital with a severe head injury & an uncertain future.
Yes! Everything is relative. There can only be one richest person in the world. And once you get there, you discover that it actually doesn’t feel that great anyway. You may drive the most expensive car in the world… which according to www.topcarrating.com is a 1 star Ferrari 250 GTO 3 litre V12 RWD 1962 – valued at a stunning $28 500 000…Actually, after writing the above, I found another website that said this car sold for $52 000 000. (Yes! $52 million!) So you own this car now and spend more on insurance every month than what I earn in a year. You have sleepless nights over it’s security. Driving it is a bit frightening because it may get scratched. Possessions like this come at a cost that doesn’t include money. With the pleasure, add a bigger than usual dose of stress and anxiety. It still doesn’t fill the ‘contentment hole.’ Possessions may make you feel happy for a short while, but that too wears off. All the money in the world doesn’t make for a totally happy life. Contentment and happiness has to be found somewhere else. Comparison is poison.
All the things I’ve mentioned will no longer be of any value when death comes. My age will be insignificant, the job I do will be gone, the house I live in, the car I drive, the holidays I’ve had – all will be meaningless. How depressing is that? The wisest man in the world discouragingly used the word ‘meaningless’ dozens of times in the book he wrote after being the wisest & richest man in the world. This life is fleeting. But whether you are rich or poor or anywhere along the very long ‘wealth’ spectrum, there are treasures which do not pass away. They surpass eternity. Those treasures are your relationships. Family and friends, acquaintances and strangers. Me, you, the man next door, the beggar and the prince….100 years from now, we, all of us, me writing this, you reading this, will all be in eternity, facing the next world. Life is fleeting. Yes, you have to work. You have to earn. You have to live. Only two things will survive death. People and the Word of God. (Matthew 24:35 Jesus speaking: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”). Everything else is going to go. Oh so what to do?!
To be happy:
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Enjoy what you have.
Spend time with those you love.
Slow down and look for the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Read the Bible. Start with the Gospel of John. Within its pages you will find relief for your soul.
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