As I stand on the pavement at the top of my road, I look over the expanse of blue ocean that stretches beyond the City Bowl, with its buildings huddled between the mountain and the foreshore. I can see the long thin strip of pale yellow sand at the far side of the bay. Two large container ships are anchored in the distance.
My stuff arrived yesterday from England, and I think of my best china, carefully wrapped in paper and boxes, swaying this way and that over wild Atlantic seas… safely brought to harbour on a similar boat, so that I can surround myself with the things I love. And THIS is home. Where the heart is. The place you love, with the one you love and the things you love.
People say things are just things. They are unimportant. And I think about materialism and the pursuit of possessions per se and I realise this is different. The love of accumulating is very different to the treasuring of that which has travelled with you through life. Leaving England, I sold or gave away or threw away a great deal of what I owned. Only the cherished things remain now, carefully selected from the harsh pruning of the past seven years. I love my things. They bring me joy. They are beautiful, aesthetic, full of happy memories. Love was poured into the design of them, the making of them, the choosing, the buying and the maintaining. Fond memories pour back as I unfold the tissue. The red porcelain plates I first admired with my mother in Liberty’s in 1982 are still in tact: a wedding gift from my brothers. I look at my treasured photographs of the children when they were small. I put my favourite books on the shelf. I polish the cutlery my parents gave me more than twenty years ago. I don’t want more things. It isn’t the acquisition of things that is important. It isn’t the buying or hoarding. It’s the memory of a life well lived, of carefully chosen pieces which together create an ambience – my home – from the family house in Twickenham to the flat in Clapham, and all the way to Cape Town.
I survey the familiar old friends and somehow they speak to my heart and reassure me I’m on solid ground and all is well in my world. I relax. I drive home along the freeway and feel the hot sun on my arm which rests on the open window. Signal Hill and Lion’s Head stand sentry over the city. I screw my eyes against the fierce bright light. The sea shimmers to my right. I live here. I’m home. From this space I can give of myself. I can contribute to the world of others in some way, however small – and if it brings joy then it is in service to humanity and it has all been worthwhile.