My grandfather played a huge role in my youth.
I only have a few photos of him in a little photo album I bought almost three decades ago now. I was fortunate I had the foresight to put a few photos in this album for me and my family in the future – the family I have now.
I was about eleven years old when I put this album together. I bring the album out every so often to show my kids and tell stories of my childhood. They just love listening to these stories and the photos bring these stories to life – of the life I lived in the first quarter of my life. Stories of my grandparents, my siblings, my cousins, extended family members, my friends, my pets and my hobbies.
A different but beautiful phase of my life – a life my kids are so very far removed in their lives they live now. A time and part of my life that I will always cherish.
It was a different time, different era – a different place.
These are the only photos I have of some of the most influential persons I had in my life in my first fourteen years on this earth. Two of them were my grandparents. They were more like parents to me. They raised me as their child.
This blog is dedicated to my foremost role model – my grandfather. A man that melded ‘being and doing’ into ONE. Let me tell you a little story about him and how it relates to the title of this …
I remember he was very strict and particular in everything he did. Everything had its place and everything had standards. Standards that we all had to adhere to.
Without fail. There were no exceptions.
He was very much a ‘black and white’ sort of a person with very little or no ‘grey areas’. He would call a spade a spade and wouldn’t mince his words if he had to get his message across by bothering with ‘political correctness’ as we do now.
He called it as he saw it! He was a Clint Eastwood “Old School” kind-of-a man. A man I looked up to.
Like I said, it was a different time, different place.
But he was also a gentleman. A real, genuine, gentleman. Dressed like one, behaved like one and thought like one. I only realized how fortunate I was to have such an influential person like him in my life after he died.
He died in peacefully in his sleep. It was a quiet end to a quiet man.
My beliefs, my values and principles and my perspective on life has been strongly influenced by this influential grandfather of mine. A simple but very wise man.
From what I understand (and to some extent, remember), he was a very quiet man. A man of few words. A man who spoke through his actions. A very authentic, Real Man.
One thing that I will always remember was that he never missed a performance that I was in throughout my primary and early secondary school life. I always saw his face in the crowd of parents and grandparents that came to watch. ALWAYS! This is a very tough standard to live up to now that I have kids of my own.
I found it very difficult to attend all my children’s school performances last year. And they are just starting out in their primary school. I will do my very best for the future years to keep up this standard.
At his funeral I was made responsible for meeting and greeting people at the door as they arrived. I could not believe the amount of people that turned up at his funeral, I mean there would have been over five hundred people that poured in. They came from all levels of society – senior government officials, doctors, judges, big businessmen, teachers and so forth.
“Was this all for the man I thought I knew – my grandfather?”, I wondered.
“It didn’t make sense”, I thought to myself. I remember seeing the tears in the eyes of all those hundreds of people (mostly strangers to me), who had come from everywhere to say farewell to this ‘quiet man’.
This moment and the funeral got me thinking …
I wondered and still wonder who would come to my funeral with tears in their eyes? Have you wondered this too? I remember thinking and still think about what one’s life is for and what is the point of our existence in this world? I asked myself what the definition of success was? We’ve all heard these questions before, yes. Most of us have read the philosophies.
But have you really applied them to yourself before? Seriously.
Well, I guess this gentleman I knew as my grandfather had somehow touched, in some way, shape or form – the hearts of everyone who paid respect at his. It only occurred to me many years later that one of the reasons why this quiet man influenced so many people was this:
He was a man whose beliefs and actions were very closely aligned, where his being and doing was almost the same thing. It was ONE. He was an authentic man. This is probably one of the most difficult things each and every one of us have to face in life – the alignment of our beliefs with our actions.
This is always going to forever be a complex, dynamic process because even though our individual beliefs may stay the same, our actions will be influenced by how the world changes around us (and the pace of change is quicker than ever before). We are now, more than ever, forced to constantly re-think and re-assess our actions against our beliefs EVERY SINGLE DAY!
The alignment of one’s beliefs and actions – of a person’s being and doing, is a very difficult daily battle with constant change. For most, if not all of us, this search for a stronger connection and search for this truth will never end. It’s almost a losing battle. The search for the authentic self, your authentic self. Your soul. But don’t despair, don’t give in. Persevere.
Strengthen your grit!
Since that realisation all those years ago, I have been trying to bring my being and my doing closer together. It isn’t easy. You could say that it has and always is a daily goal of mine and continue to be so in to the future.
Do you find yourself acting a part in your normal day-to-day which is not totally ‘you’? What about in your place of work, the organization you work for? I remember working in large multi-national corporations many years ago, doing a lot of travelling and consultancy. I thought then and still do now that everyone is basically a ‘role occupant’. Everyone in these organizations. This is necessary however, to have the smooth running of the organization.
Can you honestly say that your role or the roles you play/played in those organizations were a perfect match between you and the role? I didn’t think so.
Very few of us would.
I liken it to my children’s fantasy role playing I see them enact when they play ‘pretend stories’. Part of the appeal of working for such organizations, apart from the financial incentives is that it forces every employee to escape from themselves for hours every day to play a role, a part.
It is normally fun at the start but damaging in the end, on many levels. I am raising this vital observation because I think it is very important, especially in this era we live in where we witness almost daily the damaging effects of people’s deeds not aligned with their beliefs.
Seemingly small, disparate choices made daily, that result in cataclysmic storms all because one’s being and doing is not ONE. Remember, elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do! Pay more attention to the little things in life, things that are not seen with the naked eye – like your beliefs.
This, I believe, is a huge contributor to the deterioration of Trust in people and between people; in society and between societies; in the country’s leaders and between country leaders.
My hope is to point out what I observe and ‘see’ in the meaning of things and in the purpose of life. But more importantly, my hope is that I raise questions in your head in order to encourage you to find your meaning and your purpose.
So, I leave you with this question: do you live your daily life as the ‘real you’? Do your actions reflect your beliefs? What are your beliefs? How far apart is your being from your doing?
Is your being and doing strongly connected and ONE?
If it isn’t, you may want to start re-aligning them before it is too late. Make this habit. There is power in deliberate practise. There is power in habit. It begins within you and with you – with a choice.
Food for thought.
Until next time,