A Child Named "Thank You"
The date is October 1st, 1988. A woman just gave birth to a baby girl at Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. I don't know what time it is. She told me but I forgot. I'll ask her and come back here to edit it. She asks the father what to name the child but he stalls. He takes too long so she makes a choice. She looks at the child and she feels grateful. "Thank you God. I'm thankful."
"Kelebogile" - it means "thank you" or "I am grateful/thankful" in Tswana. My mother was the lady who gave birth that day and I was the child. Twenty-two years, eleven months and twenty-one days later (in 2011), Kelebogile wakes up and realises the meaning of those two words - "Thank you", or the one word that's her name - "Kelebogile" (pronounced "kile-boo-hile"). It is my name. Kelebogile Mercia Seane and Maja Dezulovic are one and the same, but how one became the other is another topic for perhaps another post. It does not matter that I no longer use the name. It was given to me and imprinted on my spirit when I was born so it remains a part of me.
Anyway, here it goes... What is thank you?
I woke up from a dream this morning. In my dream I won a raffle or some sort of competition. There were three of us, finalists, and there was a jury. The jury looked to me like children from high school. I did not recognise any of them but we were all more or less the same age. It was time for each of us to tell the jury members why we deserved the prize money. Out of us three, I had been given the most privileged upbringing. I even had a short discourse with someone about travelling to London and everybody's stares made me almost certain that they felt that I did not deserve the money. However, of the three I was the only one who knew for sure what I'd do with the money. I had a budget and every cent was already allocated to something. This is true in reality as well. I have a budget allocated to all the things I'm going to do when something I'm working on comes through.
We said our speeches and it was time for the vote. The results came back on a sheet of paper, in the hands of a school teacher. I already knew that the prize was mine. She showed me the name written on the paper. It wasn't my name, it was my friend's name (he wasn't even in the dream). Nevertheless, it meant that I had won. The prize was written under the name on the small rectangular piece of paper. I had won "13 million". Thirteen million what? Rands, euros, dollars? It doesn't matter. Along with it, I'd also receive my dream car. It's a Peugeot 308. It's not really my dream car but it's the car I've decided that I'm buying next for myself. I got what I wanted. I started crying and laughing ecstatically due to the joy.
I then glanced at all the people that had voted. Whether they had voted for me or for someone else, they contributed to my dream. I made my way towards some of them. I asked them what's the first wish that they had if the money was theirs. I stood in the middle of the circle of people and told them to each individually tell me what they wanted. What was their wish? We made a list. Part of my budget was their wish list as well.
Dreams are strange.
I Can't Give You Anything
As I write this, I have nothing. There is nothing of real material value that I can hold to my name nor offer to anybody else. Well, actually there is but I cannot access it for the moment so it's the same as if it were not there at all. I have never had more nothing than I do right now. Months ago I was in charge of hundreds of thousands of Rands (tens of thousands of dollars/euros/pounds) but now there is nothing. Do I have any regrets? No. I can point to all the things I did with the money by looking at the people I love. I have never had less nor more than I have now. I have never felt more released, grateful and excited about life. More than that, I have never felt more loved.
I was loved. I was always loved, but now I actually feel it and recognise it. Here I am, penniless. It's just me - Maja. Nothing more and nothing less. Yet, I have more than those that have what they believe is "more" than me. I'm staying in a fifty-five square metre apartment in the centre of Zagreb, Croatia. I'm well-fed and I'm well-clothed and taken care of. This summer I slept in a five-star hotel. I have internet. I go to see films and to the theatre. I have new books to read. I have someone walking in the rain for me to bring me an umbrella! It's all because somebody cared and loved me.
Whenever I try utter the words "thank you" or express my gratitude in words, I'm met with the words "Maja, shut up!" I never understood it because I never allowed myself to be weak. Now that I am weak, I realise how strong I really am. I'm strong because of the people around me. I don't need to say thank you. I've already said thank you and I'll keep echoing it in my actions.
"Thank You" is a Deed
"You're only as good as the last thing you did." I read that somewhere.
That is what gratitude is. That is why I don't need compliments. People show me everyday that they love me and that they are grateful that I am in their lives. I'm also beginning to show them. Words are nothing. They are not enough.
Words are not enough. You can say them sincerely and with kindness but they have no support until you show them. When you are grateful, it resonates in everything you do for and towards the other person. It gives them recognition for the significance of the role they play in your life.
Some Buddhists believe that the best thing you can do for yourself is have gratitude. The best thing you can do for others is show them recognition. So, when you have nothing but words, that is okay. However, take it further than the words. I intend to do so.
I went through pain this morning. I have been in pain for some time. It is good pain. It shows progress. I just don't know where to start in thanking all the people in my life. It is, nevertheless, a start. I've recognised them in my heart and now it's time to show them my gratitude and recognition. Let me begin! I need to develop myself so that I can show them. I must thank them for existing, just like my mother was grateful for my existence when she named me.
I never really understood what it meant to say thank you. Those two words, like most words, were unclear to me. Thank you was always something you'd say after somebody did a favour for you or after a compliment. I don't see the point in the latter any longer. I've received many compliments. I'm told I'm intelligent, genuine, beautiful, etc, etc... I've come to believe these things now. I'm grateful that they were repeated often enough for me to also realise them. I don't need to hear them so much anymore.
I thank you for reading this post. You can comment, but please don't tell me that I write well. Don't tell me that I am genuine and sincere and smart. I don't need that. I know it. We are past the chivalries. Tell me what my words meant to you. Show me that recognition. Teach me something new that will help me progress. You can even correct my grammar if you want. Tell me it is rubbish. That is okay too because I know that it is not rubbish so I will just accept that as your opinion. It may be rough, unedited and make little sense but nothing that comes from the heart can be trash. Your potential junk is my treasure. I'll fix it to become something beautiful.