Green Renaissance produces gorgeous short films that uplift the personal stories of ordinary people, with the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change. We feel hugely blessed to feature video-stories that filmmakers Michael and Justine capture with exquisite expertise, and which so beautifully illustrate Grateful Living principles and practices. In this short film we hear from Sue Swain.

Learn more about Green Renaissance through our Grateful Changemaker feature.*

Questions for Reflection

What feelings/thoughts/questions surface for you in viewing Sue’s story?

How does Sue’s story move you?

We invite you to share your reflections below the video transcript that follows.

Video Transcript

Life is a dance. This whole planet is a dance. I just have to look out the window and watch a tree swaying in the breeze and I start swaying in time with that tree. Oh my goodness, and now I’m going to get emotional, but I love dancing with trees. It’s the most extraordinary thing. The wind is the trees’ dance partner. This breeze comes up and it starts fluttering in the branches and then the whole body can sway. It’s just beautiful.

There’s just so much beauty, so much connection, and so much joy that we can have if we just looked at things differently, if we just weren’t so self-absorbed as a species. That it isn’t just about us and the next thing that you can buy. It’s like we have these holes in us that we’re trying to fill up with stuff.

We feel lost, we feel alone as a species. And we’re feeling that because we systematically set ourselves out on a journey of separating ourselves. But we are absolutely part and parcel of this. I just wish everybody could feel what is there for us because you wouldn’t experience one moment of loneliness ever again. 

We have been blessed with an incredible planetary home. There is extraordinary wisdom around us. It’s an evolved wisdom, a wisdom that has developed over time. We just need to listen to those who are older and wiser and get this planet. Who have worked out how to live well and wisely within this beautiful planetary home. And those are the species that have been around a lot longer than us. So they are the trees, they are the animals, they are the microbes. 

If we can just take the intelligence we have and temper it with wisdom, if we could answer every time “yes” to this question, “Are we creating conditions conducive to all life,” then the world’s our oyster. 

There’s this responsibility on the one side, but almost a duty to live life to the full. Because this is the only planet that actually has granted us this ability to be with this life on Earth, to feel that we’re part of this community of life. I sit next to a plant and I’m grateful for the oxygen it’s providing me, but I’m happy that I’m giving carbon dioxide in return. What I’m breathing out is what you’re taking in and and what you’re breathing out is what’s giving me life. And how am I helping to fit into the natural cycles? How can we start to live in that same generous way, where it’s generosity toward your own species but also very much towards a broader community of life. 

I’ve always found it easier to love others more than myself. That’s part of our journey, to learn to love and accept ourselves for who we are. I think in doing that, that has also helped me to then express more of who I am. You know, not hiding anymore that I am this rather daft woman who feels rather deeply, but that is who I am. 

I think the most important thing for me is learning to connect with everything around me. We have the capacity for compassion to really embrace that but beyond our own species, to be able to share that level of compassion and empathy with all others, I think is, for me, what my human journey is. There is so much potential, so much love for us to experience, beyond ourselves as individuals and as an individual species, and I just wish that for everyone. 

Let’s make the most of it, and making the most of it will mean actually being fully part of the community of life and learning how to actually live together with the rest of life on Earth. It’s a returning, it’s a reawakening, a reconnecting. If this was my last day, I would fill it with dance. I would dance with life.”

To support Michael and Justine in their film-making journey visit Green Renaissance.


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About the author

Justine and Michael are a creative couple living in South Africa.  Their project, Green Renaissance, works to spread positive stories that reflect the wonder of the world. With the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change, they produce gorgeous short films that are posted online and available for anyone, anywhere, to watch and share freely.

Through their films, they explore what it means to be human. They touch on topics that can often be difficult for people to discuss – from loss of a loved one to aging and retirement to friendship to love and courage – universal themes that we all deal with at some stage in our lives.

By sharing these stories, Justine and Michael hope to remind us of one simple truth – that we are all human – that inside our hearts and minds, we are all facing similar challenges.  We have so much to learn from each other, and our connections run so much deeper and stronger than we think.