This week, I found myself having coffee with a young  man on a random Thursday afternoon. He is the type of guy that makes heads turn because of his classic beauty, soulful eyes, shampoo-add-hair, lovely build and easy smile.

Okay, that’s the end of the blog. I just want to report that I had coffee with someone young and gorgeous.

Marcus is my unofficial nephew. I don’t have a male nibling and his aunts are not really in the picture, so we kind of adopted one another. It was clear while we were sitting in the restaurant that people looked at him because of his outward beauty. Their assumption must be that his life is effortless and that things come to him easily. But, I remember how he battled in our one-sided schools, had to work much harder than other kids to achieve marks and was bullied on the sports fields. I admire him deeply because he did not let this determine who he became and rather just got wise beyond his years more quickly than most. It reminds me of the saying by John Vance Cheney, “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.”

Anyway, enough background… Marcus and I talked about his future, his incredible passion for the film industry, his deep understanding of the responsibility that goes with his art and of the projects on which he worked. He was even head-hunted!  He shows me how to put light on different parts of the face to manipulate the viewers response, how the score needs to capture your emotions without you even consciously listening to it, how dialogues flow or don’t and why different camera angles determine much more than what we see. He chatted about how the fact that he cares for the crew makes a difference when he directs. We talked about his purpose. He’s got that lovely combination of on-fire-ambition plus a deep desire to learn more, and he explains how he believes making certain movies can change people’s lives. He is fully committed to this enormous purpose in his life.

I told him that for many years, I thought we were all created for a single purpose. To an extent I still do, but we don’t just have one big purpose. It’s not like Marie Curie was here JUST to discover radioactivity, or that Rosa Parks’ only purpose was to spark the civil rights movement or that Mother Theresa was only on earth to look after the orphaned in Calcutta. I dare say that our every day, every minute, has a purpose which can either be embraced or can elude us.

Here’s an example: Last week I met a friend in the parking lot on our way to a breakfast. She got out of a very smart SUV and when I congratulated her on her new car she told me that her dad gave it to her. (Unfortunately my dad did not think that was his purpose, so I’m stuck with a Honda I bought myself). I know her dad and their strained relationship. I wonder whether he thought that, when it comes to his kids,  his only purpose is to provide monetarily…  and for that, they need to be grateful. I know that her dad has never told her that he loves her. She never sat on his lap and felt safe. His criticism of her is never-ending. What does it help if you get a million Rand car given to you with no joy? Would it not be a greater gift if you could have a dad that taught you unconditional love, always made you feel secure, invited you into his arms and told you how proud he is of you?

(Just again, I am very open to gifts and my dad has passed away  – so if you want to give me a car, I like white ones ).

I have a gardening team, headed up by Phineas who has worked with me since 1999. He works with Remember, who as you’d remember (sorry, couldn’t help myself) worked with Jealous, Forget and Trouble for some time and our newest addition, Patrick, who is terrified of me because his predecessor dropped dead a day after I shouted at him. This week I planned to change the view of two rooms where we have palliative patients. As I was on my haunches cutting back star jasmine, I looked up to see the patient and her sweet husband keeping an eye on me. I popped my head through the window and explained that we are making a new rose garden. Mrs Pienaar told me that she loved roses and birds. I asked her about which roses she liked and what her favourite colours were. Her husband looked relieved at this wonderfully normal conversation. Much later in the afternoon, we were carrying new bird baths, bird feeders, nine roses,  lavender plants and compost. I was grumpy as my knees were aching and I broke two nails. Through the window I could see Mrs Pienaar was deathly pale and fast asleep. We worked quietly and Phineas whistled his usual off tune song. Later, I felt eyes on me and looked up to see Mrs Pienaar staring at me, a big smile on her face. That moment was my purpose that day: giving her some choices, reminding her of beauty and growth, showing her she mattered. Maybe my purpose was also to give Mr Pienaar a gentle memory in this sad time and to  work with my team who know they are not just gardeners, but are acutely aware that they are part of something much bigger than pruning and planting.

Over the past years, a grief counsellor has been helping patients and families here deal with a variety of issues. Naomi is in her 60’s,  is calm, wise and possesses an ability to relate to everyone.  In fact, I trust her so much that I’ve asked her to chat through things with my own people –  my family and friends. Over the years, Naomi has left little nuggets of wisdom in her path, teaching us coping skills and building a relationship without us even really noticing. Last week, her 30 year old son died suddenly and tragically. In the same week, her husband arrived with us for end-of-life care. What an enormous emotional burden she has to carry now, but because in the past, she has been so totally committed to her purpose and her calling, we have learned how we can serve her well in her time of need now. All we can do is show up and help carry this sorrow. For now, she can focus on just breathing, and we can be the soft landing, the safe space, the quiet gentle embrace. We can be her tribe that won’t insult her with platitudes.

Is film not just an analogy for life? Would it not be great if we all knew what our different roles were in this movie with its different scenes? Would it not be glorious if we could realise that the story is not just about one or two movie stars, but about all of us and our planet? The screenplay needs the actors, who need the score, but the camera man needs a cup of coffee and the director needs someone to remind him not to work through the night. We are all able to add value. Sometimes we need to be the make-up artist who hides the dark circles under people’s eyes and at other times we get to play the hero, but most of the time we just need to show up and try and make the best film we possibly can… on that day, in that moment, not because we want to win an award, or to get wealthy, or to stroke our egos, but because that is why we are here. In  doing that, and finding purpose in the present, everybody wins.