This week I realised there was an important category missing in my budget: calamity. I realised this when the R1000 speeding fine arrived in the mail. I wanted to howl. Really. I was going 80 in a 60 zone but, in my defence, your Honour:
1. It was one of those areas where it becomes 80 in about 20 metres from where I was fined.
2. I really try to stick to the speed limit; not only because the roads I travel are policed by some of South Africa’s most vigilant traffic cops, but because I try to save diesel by driving cautiously!
3. Most days I do an 80km round trip virtually all on provincial roads with high speed limits.
I have become quite obsessive (but clearly not obsessive enough!) about abiding by speed limits. My car has a very lovely cruise control which I use in the 60 zone (but obviously not that particular zone). Henceforward, I shall be the most speed-abiding citizen ever. Sit on my tail if you must; I shall not be moved!
Next we needed to take our 12 year old Golf in for repairs. The quote came back at R38 000. Long pause. Seriously, I don’t think the car is worth R38 000. And we do have car repairs in the budget, but we have two cars, and the annual budget doesn’t cover that. So what to do? We asked them to do the R3000s most important repairs. We can live with the light that comes on, on the dash and goes ping; I have no idea what it means but apparently it’s not critical. Yet. Oh calamity!
Also the pool cleaner and the lawn mower died. Interest rate hikes on the horizon. Food prices set to rise by 11%. Whateeeever!
So how am I gonna be an optimist about this? (fade Bastille)
I guess by remembering gratitude. There are so many things I enjoyed this month.
· The majestic clouds building up for rain and looming dark on the horizon.
· The damp earth after the rain
· The lush green veld grasses and lawns after the rain
· That my lightened work load allowed me unstressed times to assist my children with homework
· The way my boys joined forces to use the same English speech (different teachers!)
· The company of friends
· The abundant delight and affection of my youngest son
· Good food
· Good books
· Tasks accomplished
· Exercise enjoyed
· Rest times appreciated
And also remembering the ever-present dire need of so many around me.
· The woman who was pulling the huge load of recyclable goods along the busy road with her tiny toddler running beside her.
· The woman whose face was ruined by repeated sun burn from standing begging at the traffic lights,
· The many, many shacks I drive past every day.
In my own middle class context, my budgetary and debt struggles can seem huge. Sometimes I honestly despair of ever being debt-free. I get very frustrated when I can’t buy my kids something, when I can’t buy plants for my garden, when sitting down for a cappuccino is a huge luxury; but I am always mindful of the good life that I do lead, of how incredibly fortunate I am.
God is our provider. So I try to take each calamity in my stride and trust that somehow we will work it out. Oh Lord, please may our expenses not exceed our income this month!