OPINION: Before I begin, there is something I need to get off my chest. I am wired. I am half woman half machine. My heart is one big blackout. I’m powered by a titanium-encased, lithium-sustained generator. Electric currents control the beat of my existence.
My mother told me it was because my spirit was too wild for my heart. And still is! I have a broken heart. In my dreams my huge heart is fueled by chambers of rich blood. In reality my heart is stage one load-shedding; Switching me off when all I want is to be living full throttle. I have a ritual at night before I get ready to fall asleep: I place the palm of my hand on my breast – I want this intruder pushing against my flesh to know I feel it – and remind myself of the prophet’s words, “a new heart I will also give you”.
Why then at that particular moment was my weary heart thudding like the wings of a caged bird? Was it tired and had it had enough? Did it want out? Did it want to be free? Was my beat-less heart going to beat me to death? This was new to me. Nerves never really did this to me. I had waited for this moment since I was a girl in matric. Would I be able to go through with this? Was my heart finally breaking my spirit in? A touch jolted me back into the now. The voice was my brother’s. The message: they are ready for us.
When I was a little girl my father would take me to chase rainbows. We roared after those luminous bows of refracted colour like American storm chasers after a tornado. Rainbows captivated me.
To me they were not just pretty things to look at. They had a deified magnificence about them.
A sublime kaleidoscopic radiance that kept me wanting to reach them, to touch them, to know them. Ever since my heart leaps when I behold a rainbow in the sky. They show me a beauty so indescribable that it’s fashioned in me an awareness to want to create things to behold. Chasing rainbows was the beginning of me chasing my own yearning to be creative, to express, to think, to make, to shape and to form. Clearly it was only such beauty that had kept my heart alive.
With my heart refusing to calm, we walked side by side through the marbled foyer and down the impressive floating stairs. There I was to meet a man for whom I have such admiration, such respect, such gratitude, that I had almost believed him to be another rainbow beyond my reach. The doors to the room opened and we were welcomed in. I moved in what felt like slow motion. And there my hero stood, smiling at me. My faulty-heart choked my enthusiasm and silenced my voice. I couldn’t speak. Had no words. Here was the moment for which I had waited almost 20 years. A meeting with the laughing saint. The great wise mind. The little lion heart. The cassock-wearing man of God. My Arch, Desmond Tutu. And this loud-mouthed, false-singing Mad woman was mute!
This had become a pattern. All my grand, life-changing moments I seemed to face as a silent witness, an on-looker. But this is where creative love comes through; when you chase those distant rainbows, things work out. The people come. So the gentle Arch embraced me and held my hand. And this is the fabric of life, the working girls hymn, the reason we get up in the mornings: To do great things. To create great things. To be creative.
Creativity is not exclusive to advertising; it is exclusive to life, and available freely to all. My own road has been a symphony of my love to be creative. Being creative means doing things of value, feeling things, thinking of things that can touch people, tell stories in ways that spark imagination, and yes, loving what you do. You don’t have to love briefs. You don’t have to love meetings. You don’t have to love rules, restrictions, constraints, or routine. Just love the work. The work you do alone late at night. The work you do at the break of dawn when ideas wake you up like a bright light. The work you do in the middle of a pitch when boring people aren’t getting it, but from somewhere you find that magic. The work you do as naturally as breathing. Just love the work. No matter how hard. Even when mediocrity, boredom, complacency, and conservatism stare back at you like people who don’t like your face, just love the work.
And not just any work. Good work. Work that actually does good. The kind of work you want to do once you’ve been hugged by a man who’s stood in the face of all that is evil, wrong and inhumane but was said to be the norm, the way things were. The man who stood courageous when adversity put a gun to his head and told him he wasn’t good enough. Larger than life people don’t give you briefs. They give you visions and tell you to go on missions, doing things that are really important. Things that really matter. Creativity expressed in love.
As my Arch looked into my eyes and his mouth said, “Dankie, dankie, baie dankie”, I could see his eyes ask: “Are you doing good with your life, are you living it in love?” Right there, right then, the Arch was challenging me to chase rainbows with creative love! Dankie Arch! Baie dankie!
IMAGE: Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the TV series, A South African Story. Benny Gool / Oryx Media
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to email@example.com.