If i had to ask you to sit for five minutes and write down the 5 top things you Value in life, what would make it on to your list?
i haven’t given this any thought at all [but hopefully with key values you shouldn’t have to] but 5 that would appear on my list would be:
# love God and follow Jesus
# love my neighbour as myself
[side note: i wanted to write about an encounter with my neighbour but this post ended up being this rather more involved conversation with me sharing a whole lot more about each of the values mentioned so i instead chose to cut all of that out and share it with the patrons who co-collaborate with me at https://www.patreon.com/brettfish]
There are obviously many more than those and melting chocolate will probably be right up there [ooh, that reminds me…] but those are five of the key values i hold in life.
When tbV and i were looking for a place to stay after coming back from America, one of the top values on our list was ‘live in an area where everyone doesn’t look like us!’ and that was especially true as we looked for the latest place [where we are now renting] two years ago [which incidentally is the longest we have stayed anywhere together in the 9 years we’ve been married #PackingAllOfTheThings].
This particular house in this particular street in Diep River is not the dream area and place we were hoping for in that regard – but it’s also not the all-or-mostly-white place we were desperately trying to avoid – it kind of fell somewhere in the middle. But we looked for six months and then came to the point timewise [and evicted-from-previous-place-of-accommodation-wise] where we had to make a choice and so this was okay but not first prize.
Meet the Neighbours
In two years of living here we only really know the neighbours immediately to our left and are grateful to the neighbours immediately on our right for an overhanging granadilla plant which has provided us with much fruit.
Which has made me so sad a lot of the time because it has felt like one of my/our values is not being lived out in the best of ways. And begs the question, ‘If you’re not doing it, can you honestly say that it’s a value you hold?’ [i would say the answer to that is a definite “No!” just by the way – show me how and where and who you live with and i will tell you what you value!]
And life is busy and so things happen and you get caught up in stuff and justify and run conferences and try and find paying work and recover from sickness and family issues and broken cars and and and…
But about a year ago, i finally decided to get proactive – we live in a Cul-de-Sac kind of space that at one point was meant to be a gated community and so something like 25 to 30 houses in our little horseshoe. So i wrote a letter and Val printed off 30 copies of it and i walked around and posted it in everyone’s letterbox saying a little bit of who we are and sharing contact details and suggesting  a neighbourhood street braai or bring-and-share vibe and  that i wanted to take over this bit of grassed over open space and start a veggie garden for the community and would people be keen.
And got two positive responses and i think a third from someone who said people in this community keep to themselves and aren’t super amped about that kind of thing and also reasons why the veggie garden would be a bad idea [people walk their dogs there, local government will shut it down blah blah blah].
i was super deflated – did try to get together with those who positively responded a little later but emails disappeared or didn’t get returned and so just never happened.
Val and i do neighbourliness and hospitality in many other ways and places and so in some ways we can feel alright about how we live and we did try and if the local community is not so amped then so be it.
When life deals you burglaries
Then one day we got robbed.
Just after i came home and discovered it i met Richard [oldish coloured man] who lives just around the corner from us and told him what had happened and we exchanged numbers [badly it seems, unless he meant to change one digit on purpose ha ha] and he said i must come round sometime if i want.
This week Val has been away in the UK and i was possessed by some spirit of gardening past [seriously, who IS this guy] and started pruning hedges in our back garden but could only reach a certain height. So knocked on Richard’s door yesterday [could not remember his name for the life of me but he thought i was Brad so let’s call it quits] but no response.
This morning i decided to try again and Richard opened and we realised the number confusion and now have each other’s real numbers and he lent me a ladder and i chopped some hedges back [seriously, out spirit, OUT!] and i am going over to his place at 3 today for a cappuccino!
Such a long build up for such a short and simple story. i have tried to be super intentional this last year about practically getting involved in the issues i fight about online [race/poverty/education] and so started doing some work with BottomUp and LifeMatters Foundation and the necessity has really come from this space of questioning, ‘If you’re not doing it, can you honestly say that it’s a value you hold?’
So ja, i’m committing to making burglarade. And want to encourage you to spend some time writing down the things you would say you value and then checking each one against your life – how you spend your time, your money, your energy and the choices you make about place and people. If something needs to change, then plant that tree today…
i would love to hear what some of your values are… please share some stories in the comments below.
And if you are someone who values some of the work i do and the content i produce, then there is one way you can be more practical about that and it’s to consider becoming a Patron.