My guest writer is a brother to me. It began when he became best friends with my brother when they were young teens. Here we are more than 20 years later, all grown. He has become an amazing Dad, Husband and Man. Only last year we discovered that we both have a love for writing and in the same genre! He has some of it ready for me to proofread and I cannot wait. He is a brilliant writer and I think that you will see this in his story and love it as much as I do! I can’t wait to be on this writing journey with him, especially since we write for the same genre! It’s good to have someone to motivate you and me a positive force, where you can learn from each other and egos are left at the door. Love you Ricks!
I am running on the trail with my best mate. It is the Bos 400 and one which we have hiked before numerous times because of its sheer beauty. I feel a euphoric sense of freedom as the cold wind cuts through my face and blows through my hair, with every step I take my feet sinks into the soft white sand and the waters are a perfect cold dark blue. It is twilight and as I look up at the sky I see the last glimmer of the sun shining through the patches of oddly shaped clouds. The colour however is more of a dark pink and not at all like the standard colours I was used to seeing from Earth’s son. As I looked back down to eye level I notice my surroundings has changed, I was now surrounded by mountain cracks that emitted a strange green hue and started climbing and playing like a little kid, carefree and just enjoying myself with an absolute pure sense of joy.
My inner peace sadly is in for a rude awakening as my alarm clock goes off and I realize I have to make the short yet dreadful trip from the bedroom to my lounge to switch on my laptop and start working. On the surface my demeanour is calm, strong and confident and of course I have to put on a brave face, I have to be the voice of reason and be strong for the adjustments my family would have to make. It is after all only day four of lockdown and with the world plunging into the scary notion of the unknown, tensions are rising and everybody to some degree whether consciously or sub-consciously are being driven by that deep seated pit of dread in their stomach.
Roughly a week has passed since the president’s lockdown announcement and I like many South Africans am recovering from the rat race the week before. There was so much to do in so little time and while we understood that our employers and the leadership of our country were faced with an extraordinary situation that needed a lot of careful planning and attention, the tension the wait on information produced was better than any horror movie could build and a lot of us were just helplessly awaiting what the next step was to adjust to this new threat humanity was facing.
Seeing news feeds of empty shelves in shops and reading about people stockpiling even toilet paper of all things made every day before pay day one of anxiety and worry. It made me question why I should be a sensible rational person while the world was quickly succumbing to the madness of the day. If I stayed sensible and considerate to others would I have enough for my family? Honestly with all the stress weighing on my shoulders it was not hard for me to slip over to the dark side of idiocracy and selfishness but alas I stuck to my guns and noted that I will stand by my integrity and be the best person I can be even in the face of an impending apocalypse and I will continue to make rational decisions! Finally the 25th of March came around. My wife’s work at home policy was in effect and she decided to drop me off at work and do the shopping to ensure we got what we needed. The drive to work was a tense one, but we all pretended like it was just a normal day.
The day went on as any other except for the fact that everyone was just a little on edge preparing for lockdown. I am in the shipping industry, my client works with non-essential goods and we were preparing for shutdown. Between checking updates on the virus frequently, getting pictures of empty fridges and shelves from my wife who had been to her third mall in the space of 3 hours made focusing on my job a whole lot more difficult. I was completely gripped when I started day dreaming about the long term effects the virus could have and what my plan would be to prepare for a worst case scenario situation. This then made me realize to check my investments, my heart sunk as I did not want to bear looking at how much money I lost. The J.S.E. had crashed at this point and I do not have millions invested, but that just made looking at the values of my aggressive investment portfolio dropping by 20% all the more heartbreaking. What if it continued this way? What if I lose my pension? What if the virus slows the economy to the point of me losing my job? How do I support my family financially? At this point I am close to hyperventilating; I am feeling aggressive, edgy I am going over to full survival instinct, this response however always prompts me to look for a solution and alas the answer was simple.
I went back to basics by applying my G.P.A. Strategy (Gather Intel, Prepare and then Act) I call my investment broker to ensure I receive expert advice, I have built up a strong relationship with Liberty and they have not steered me wrong thus far which gave me comfort that I was on the right track to solving this problem. I could make all the predictions in the world regarding my finances, the world economy and the way forward but listening to sound, trusted ,expert advice is the difference between making good and bad decisions. My broker had been straight with me, and he explained that the drop in the financial markets could be expected but that it would correct itself on long and medium term investments, I had a policy maturing and it was unfortunate that I did lose a bit of market share here, but my broker made sure that I moved these funds to a less aggressive portfolio to stop the bleeding. I was not happy with losing money but at least my principle capital put in was safe. More importantly being able to do something to make the slightest change to my situation was all I needed to shift my mindset back to one of positivity and rationality. The world had the Great Depression and the deep recession of 2008 and we are still here!
This was the trend at the beginning of the outbreak of this pandemic it was difficult not being able to make it around to everyone just to say goodbye before lockdown and I was especially saddened but proud that myself and Dane (My best mate) decided we would rather not hookup before the lockdown in an effort to be responsible and protect our families and I wondered when life would return to normal and I was able to kick his butt at pool again!
It is now 40 days into the lockdown and I am starting to see the positive effects that this short space of time has had on my life and that of my family. In a way this pandemic actually gave me the future that I wanted, and that was the future of having more time at home with my family, to have time to pursue my writing and my other passions. Before the lockdown my wife and I would often joke that we live in our car and just sleep at home as we were always busy, whether it was after hours business ventures, driving others around, day job, trying to fit in writing my book somewhere and then somehow trying to fit in spending time with the kids and the dog and finding some sort of leisure time in between was nearly impossible and I found myself in an endless cycle of going hard and aggressive and then burn out!
I knew that eventually I was not going to be able to keep up with my high octane lifestyle and busy work schedule and came to the realisation that eventually I would have to slow down before I slip into a state of utter madness. I found evidence of this when I spent three nights in a row with putting my butt on the couch and just watching series, no exercise, no mind power, no moves on my writing or business ventures and on the one hand it ate me up inside but on other I was to numb to care.
I found myself craving the simple pleasures of tickling and cuddling my daughters, reading them bedtime stories, engaging them in conversation to find out what made their little minds tick, helping my wife cook meals and putting my arms around her and giggling and being playful like we were teenagers again. This made me realize that I was happiest at home with my family yet I was always chasing money and dedicating my time and efforts to hatching up schemes and businesses for extra income, which is of course a very important aspect for success and security but look at what expense?
I was completely out of balance. I thought about the repetitive life lessons I learnt and the one that played in my mind the most was to ensure that I spent enough time with my family. They say the key to being a good parent is just showing up. Obviously there is a lot more complexity to this statement but it got me thinking, I always justify my workaholic tendencies to my wife by reminding her that my ambitions and goals in life is to secure their financial future and this rings true but again was this more important than the most invaluable commodity I can give them, which is my time?
Time to teach them my kids the lessons that I have learnt in life, time to shape and educate their young minds about survival in this world and most importantly to always strive be the most decent human beings that they could be. Money definitely cannot teach these lessons, and look at the state of the world? We live in an immoral society where it is self over others and those deep routed family morals have fallen by the wayside. The days where we taught the future generations the difference between right and wrong and had scripture and religious studies in schools are long gone and replaced with teachings of go out there and take what you think belongs to you.
Again it was quite obvious to me that the world and myself were way out of balance and I decided that I might not be able to change the world right away but I could start immediately to change my own mindset and focus on good and wholesome things.
I started praying that God would show me a path to make enough money to secure my family’s future but most importantly to make that money in a shorter amount of time than what I was currently doing. I started using Mindpower to visualize my business ventures but deep down my sub-consciousness always lead me to visualize what I was craving most and that was the luxury of time. I visualized working from home, with having enough time to spend with my kids, where myself and my wife could actually enjoy cooking a meal together and enjoy supper at a decent time as a family as opposed to having to force the kids to swallow without chewing because we only managed to get supper done at 8:30 pm and of course kids need their sleep.
Since the lockdown I have time to look after myself, to rest and when I think about it after all the negativity of living through a pandemic there was a silver lining. The world had to slow down and boy I was not complaining about that! When I look back at the fear and anxiety I had at the beginning of this lockdown I smile and thank God that he gave me what I needed to choose to come out of this a better and with more positivity going for me.
From a financial aspect I actually saved money because I was not driving around or going out spending unnecessarily, even with salary cuts it was depressing at first but again we were saving so much just on unnecessary costs in one month that I actually managed to increase my investment portfolio. The lesson here? Even after lockdown I will continue to consciously watch my spending and manage my wealth better, part of living wealthy is not just making money, anyone can make money, but if you spend recklessly it will slip like water through your fingers, no! I will look at saving all those pennies I did not even know I was spending. The R50 here, the R20 there and make sure that if I do need it, it will go straight to savings.
I managed to setup board game nights with my family, this simple family time brought me to a point of pure happiness and a realization that money is not going to make me happy, but instead the well being and happiness of my family is what drove me, and I felt so satisfied spending not just time, but quality time engaging with my kids. The lesson here? I will continue to always try my best to gain financially as I believe that we must be driven for success but I will not let this consume my soul and after this lockdown I will focus on the things that really matter in life and give it my full attention, I do not need the fancy car and the big mansion.
Well I do want to live in abundance, I want to lead a humble life, a life of servitude and a life where I can make a difference in the lives of those around me. I was also taken through a spiritual re-awakening during this period, my love for God has seriously been ignited and reading Psalm 91 hit home and gave me a sense of peace that I have not felt in years, a peace where no matter what happened I was ready, I was a man that would handle his own and be strong and courageous in the face of danger!
After all, God was a beacon of positivity, it was at church that I met my first love Nicky, it was at church that when I was being picked on and a grade 4 boy by the name of Dane Martin in that class stood up and defended me and that was the start of the most important friendship of my life, one that I still maintain today. I started chasing my dream of writing, this lockdown has allowed me to see that through and I have finished the bones of my story and am busy with a first draft.
So all in all this was a great time of reflection for me, and looking back even though it was forced I needed a lockdown, I needed time to find me and really ascertain what I wanted out of this short life. It goes to show that no matter how bad things may seem, there is always a positive takeaway from every situation, it just depends on how you choose to look at it. In closing I would like to ask that you put aside the superficial things of this world, really take a deep dive into your heart and challenge yourself to be a little bit of better person with each passing day, use Mindpower to visualize, seed and affirm what you want out of life!
Thank you for taking time to read this story and as we are still in a sort of relaxed lockdown, if you are looking for something to do, please see a list of movies that I have watched which may help stave off boredom. FYI, most of these are deep psychological Horrors and Thrillers as my taste tends to lean more towards Indie Arty Flicks. I am not much of a big budget Hollywood fan, so this may not be to everyone’s taste. These are available for streaming online and a search for free download on the movie should provide you with the free streaming services offering these titles. I will purposely also provide no synopsis to make the watch and research of these titles much more enjoyable! Some titles are foreign movies; personally I find it more engaging to watch in the original language as it adds more authenticity to the stories.
Movies and series watched during lockdown
- Daniel Isn’t Real
- The Nightingale (Truly gritty)
- Vivarium ( A mind melter)
- Narcos Mexico
- The Gift
- The Platform (Brilliant piece of art on society today)
Additional Titles you can explore
- The Lighthouse
- The Babadook
- The Perfection
- Green Room
- Into the night (The drama is a little over the top in places but interesting premise)
- Errementari, The Blacksmith and the Devil (Truly bizarre and wickedly entertaining)
- Escape Room 2019 version
- Rock n Rolla (Classic action comedy Guy Ritchie style)
- The Stranger Season 1
- Anything by directors Guillermo Del Toro, Tim Burtom ( Except Dark Shadows), Lars von Trier and Darren Aronofsky
Interesting Youtube channels
- Top Tenz Net
- Joe Rogan Experience
- Top 5 Scary videos
- Bright Side
- Slapped Ham
- ASAP Science
There is so much more but for the sake of time I will end here, hope you will find something you like.
Thank you Ricks! I hope more of you aspiring writers will send in your lockdown stories. Share your story, I’d love to hear how everyone is experiencing lockdown!
One Love ✌😷