Call it what you will. The Lord smiles as my life rolls in and out of its predestined plan.
As a result of my fall from the stage, my life as an actress ended. What do I do now, I thought. Panic and terror about the future engulfed me. It was too much to even contemplate. I had my speech, psycho, physio and occupational therapies to contend with, and so, I buried myself in them and refused to think of the future.
Time moved on.
As I regained various abilities, so my mind turned to the question of what to do with my life. I was able to contemplate things in a more rational manner. I had to face reality. My acting days were over. But, there had to be other things that I could do.
Books gave me so much pleasure. Perhaps I could work in a bookshop, I mused. I began to put feelers out and before I knew it, I had a job in Armstrong’s Bookshop in Johannesburg. Armstrong’s was a delightful non-fiction bookshop. This was only two years after my accident and I was not able to do as much as I am today. For one thing, I had not yet had my Cochlear Implants and only had two percent hearing in one ear. I was deaf. Seriously deaf! I would go up to a customer, give a big smile and ask if I could help?
“Yes, please. Could tell me if you have Dunn’s book on Psychosis?”
Donne, that was what they said, wasn’t it? Leading them to the English poetry section, I said:
“Here is Donne’s work. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch the name of the poem you’re after. It begins with a S, doesn’t it?”
Needless to say, I battled working in the bookshop. My hearing, eyesight and spasticity meant I couldn’t do the job as well as I wanted.
Working in a bookshop was not for me.
Thankfully when one creative talent was put to rest, another reared it’s wonderful head. I discovered that I could write. I wrote my book My Plunge to Fame. It was difficult to write because now words didn’t flow easily from me. I would struggle for hours over a mere eight line paragraph. When I finally held the book in my hands, I thought: You are no longer an actress, but you have the makings of….a writer!
Three years ago, I began writing regularly in my blog, ‘ear ‘ear! When I started blogging, I knew nothing about it. Absolutely zilch! Fortunately I have two behind the scenes people working closely with me. There is CJ, my technical guru and B, my publisher, sounding board and pusher!
“I don’t want to start blogging, B, I know nothing about it. What could I say that will interest people – regularly!”
“You have plenty to write about. What about writing a blog about……”
Before I knew it I was a regular blogger!
I hadn’t thought about how much time I would spend on the internet. I spent hours googling information and seeking out appropriate photographs. I desperately needed more Internet time. CJ suggested I get in touch with a well known internet provider, Afrihost, and ask for sponsorship in return for free advertising space on my blog. There’s no way they’ll say yes to that, I thought. Hopelessly, having no alternative, I sent off a letter to Afrihost.
Blow me down with a feather but they accepted my proposal! I now google happily and use the internet to my hearts content. Their advertisements grin out at the world from my blog’s sidebar and footer area. If I have any support problems, I always have quick and helpful responses. Thus began one of the easiest and happiest relationships of my life!
In August I planned to arrive in Johannesburg to spend a few days with friends. I would leave for England a few days later. Afrihost learnt of this and suggested that we ‘do’ lunch! They wanted to get to know this person with whom they had been working for the past three years.
My heart sank. Glory, I wouldn’t be able to hide behind my iPad screen when communicating with them. They would see the ‘real’ me. Shytenhauzen, what if they didn’t like what they saw? Would I then be kissing their sponsorship goodbye? So much hung in the balance. There was nothing for it. I had to meet them.
Mike, their driver, met me at the airport and then, as if my bulging suitcase weighed nothing at all, flung it in the back of the combi and we were off. About half an hour later we arrived at Afrihost’s headquarters in Rivonia. I got out of the car and stretched. I love the feel of the air in Gauteng.
“Gaynor, it’s good to meet you!”
This warm eyed, smiling man came towards me with his hand outstretched. “I am Suvesh. Call me Suv.”
“At long last I’m able to put a face to this person I have been communicating with for three years, ”I said laughing.
We went through their offices to a gorgeous green lawn outside. There was this small, beautifully laid table for three. At that moment, another man, Sean, introduced himself.
“I work closely with Suv. I will be joining you.”
We sat down and the conversation flowed easily between us. Then lunch was served.
“When we emailed you asking if there was anything you didn’t eat, you replied saying: Offal and Brussel Sprouts,” Suv laughed, “I hope this meets with your approval!”
Placed before me was the most gorgeous rump steak.
“This looks totally divine,” I said, “but…well…” glory, I hated this, “with my right hand being spastic, would you mind cutting it for me? I can do it but it would just save so much time and…well…concentration.”
As Suv cut my rump into delicious pieces, he asked: “Before your fall, you were right handed?”
I nodded my head. “And so you fill in our Afrihost forms for the renewal of your sponsorship with your left hand every six months?”
“Yeah,” I nodded my head. “It takes me an age but its legible.”
“It’s fantastic! I will ensure that from now on, you only have to do it once a year. That will save you a lot of time and effort.”
Why is it that so often one needlessly places obstacles in one’s path? I had not wanted to meet the Afrihost team because I feared that they would be judgemental and find me wanting. What I didn’t see was that by presuming that, I was the one that was actually being judgemental. I was making a conclusion about their attitude before even meeting them!
I had a marvellous lunch with two special individuals at Afrihost. Now I only need to fill in the application form for sponsorship once a year! And I am able to put a face to Suvesh with whom I have been communicating for the past three years!
I mentioned how the Lord must smile at my life’s predestined plan. That night I received the following email from Suvesh.
It seems like your relationship with Afrihost was destined! ☺
I recently found out that you were on the radio many years back (possibly 702) and you mentioned that you wanted to work in a bookstore. The owners of Armstrong’s books called in and said you were welcome to work in their shop. The owners were James and Douglas Armstrong.
Douglas Armstrong is the father of Brendan Armstrong, one of our company directors, and James was his late uncle. I work very closely with Douglas Armstrong and he remembers you clearly.
Hope that unlocks some happy memories ☺
Armstrong’s Bookshop and Afrihost are two of the many instances in which I see my life working according to some plan. What I am learning is not to try and dictate how my life will work out. I must be determined. I must have certain aims and desires. I must have perseverance. However, finally I must just – go with the flow.
Someone else is in charge.