Monday, October 24, 2016

The Bubble

Just because I moved nearly 8,000 miles (13,000 km) from home doesn't mean I don't get stuck in my own little bubble sometimes. Poking a sharp object at the walls of your bubble requires constant focus and effort I think, no matter where you live. We all get into routines. We like to eat at the same restaurants over and over, we like to have friends who are similar to us and who think the same things are laugh out loud funny even if we've already laughed about those same things a hundred times before. 

In Joburg, being adventurous carries an extra element of complexity. Because of the crime problem, most of us, expats and non, spend a lot of time looking over our shoulders, staying put in our own neighborhoods and avoiding talking to people who could possibly be dangerous.  And that's the funny thing about moving to Joburg, you're automatically brave for doing it but you can easily end up living in a bubble surrounded by other expats, guards, gates and walls. 

Of course I want to be safe but I don't want to live in a bubble. So I try to take small steps on a regular basis to make sure I'm not getting too comfortable.  

Recently, I stopped to talk with a guy who has set up a "shop" on the side of the road near our house. He sells potted plants and paintings. I think his art was originally created to market the potted plants but it's my theory that over time he became more excited about the art than the plants because although the plants remain more and more paintings appear.

I had been driving by this guy almost daily for a while and wanted to stop and talk to him but there seemed to always be a reason that I couldn't or didn't. Back to safety for a moment, I don't consider stopping to chat with this guy to be putting myself in a dangerous situation as he is set up right along side of a busy road and of course I would only stop during the day, but I do think this is a good example of a situation that some others would avoid. If for no other reason than they might think we should not be encouraging this person to set up a make-shift shop on the side of the road in our nice community. Also, it appeared that he was living on the side of the road in a sort of lean to that he created out of found items. I am sure this is frowned upon by many of his permanent-dwelling neighbors. 

The man's name is Sisepho. He came here from Mozambique. I bought two of his paintings. The paintings are made on a white coated press board, similar to a shelf that you'd find in a closet. I asked him to sign the paintings and he said he didn't have a pen to do so, so I drove the three minutes back to my house, grabbed a sharpie and brought it to him. Even though he said his name is Sisepho he signed the paintings with another name which looks like S larlosmama. He explained why but I really couldn't understand the reason. He also wrote "30" in a few spots which I understood to be his age. 

The first painting I bought was clearly designed to help him sell plants. The second is a large painting of a snake which now proudly sits on the mantle in my living room. It's been about a month since I bought these paintings and I am loving the snake painting more and more everyday. To quote the TV shows on HGTV, this painting really "pops!" I asked Mr. Deep the other night if he didn't just love the snake painting and he replied that no, he really doesn't like it at all. 

The plant painting I bought.
If you know me, you might be surprised to learn that I'd put a painting of a snake in my house because I don't like snakes. But that's the whole point. The snake reminds me to keep getting outside my comfort zone. 
Snake painting. It pops! 


  1. Absolutely love this. I love that you step out of your bubble and comfort zones. And I like the paintings! I'm glad you posted them.

    1. Thank you! And I love that you totally get South Africa. I knew it from the minute you got off the van when April was your new best friend. :)


About Me

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.