In this video, James Motlhamme shares his experience of orienting to each new day with a sense of contentment and optimism. He reflects on the fact that no matter how dark it gets, the sun will rise, and we will try again.

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

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

Questions for Reflection

What moved you most about James’ story?

How might you awaken to each new day with a sense of possibility?

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

*We are transitioning the format of our Grateful Changemakers series in an effort to deepen the ways in which we “celebrate programs and projects that serve as beacons of gratefulness.” Our film series partnership with Green Renaissance represents one such possibility. Stay tuned for more!

Video Transcript

When I start my day, when I see the sun, there’s a song that plays in my mind… let the sun shine, let the sun rise.

Whenever I hear that song play in the back of my mind, I think ok, here’s another opportunity to start and try and be happy and be content with our lives.

I grew up in a space where people’s opinions are very important. I was fed the idea of success according to the people around me. Success was linked to materials, money, the places where you end up living. Things on the surface. Had I became successful according to people’s expectations and had been sad at the same time without them knowing, and I died, I would have died successful to them.

The darkest moments are when I cannot find myself. When I can’t hear myself thinking, and my expressions and my thoughts are affected by people. It’s so easy to get lost in all of that and forget about myself.

Rejections has been a problem for me. Rejection from family or the people that you love or the people that you look up to. And the most painful I’ve experienced is when my father was like… yeah, telling me that I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough. And he would compare me with all the people that he doesn’t like.

I don’t understand. Or maybe it’s because I’m the stepchild. But, yeah, because I never understood why. Rejection most of the time doesn’t come with detailed explanation. Most of the time they’re shutting you out. I love listening to people, right? And their opinions and stuff. But they are that exactly, they are opinions, and they come with their understanding.

I do not really give people power to change how I see the world, especially to the things that matter to me. I think it goes back to loving people and appreciating people’s roles, people’s role, in my life, but at the same time prioritizing and listening to the person in me. And no one is going to listen to myself and try to understand myself like I do. So if I’m going to do that, I also have to honor myself by treating myself with respect.

When you go to nature, it seems like time extends. The idea of the two hours in the city and the idea of two hours in nature is different. Being in nature does wonders for me. Like when I’m looking at the sunset, sunrise, I’m thinking about my wellbeing. I look around, am I really ok? And sometimes the answer is no. In those moments I make peace that days won’t be the same and it’s fine. But just like the sun rises or sets, I can go sleep and try tomorrow.

Despite all the challenges, despite all the scars, despite all the misfortunes, the rejections, I’m in a good space mentally and spiritually. The most beautiful moments that I’ve had, the most beautiful views that I’ve seen, the most beautiful places that I’ve been, are not necessarily easy to get to. But it doesn’t take away the good and the beauty of it.

As long as you’re still optimistic and you’re still trying, I think that’s living.

Green Renaissance

Green Renaissance

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.