While I was on my travels, I became enthralled by a pair of hummingbirds that lived around the eco lodge. Elusive little creatures, I would wait silently, watching for them to appear. And eventually they would flit into the foliage in front of me, sometimes hovering for a nano second before darting off; other times lingering for a long tender moment, beak drawing out the sweetness from a favourite flower while suspended in the air, little wings fluttering. Just long enough to capture the magic in my memory.
There are hummingbirds at work in the green spaces around me in Africa. Distant cousins of the hummingbirds across the seas, with different colouring and beaks which are less long. Similarly their visits are fleeting but memorable, as they seek out their sustenance and go about their daily hummingbird work.
I find myself comforted by the presence of the hummingbirds. Grounded. Reminded that we live in a precious world. I can trust those little hummingbirds in their authenticity and integrity.
A couple of years ago, one of my three words was “integrity”. In fact it was my core word for that year, deliberately placed at the centre of my three word mantra. The words which I wrote about my choice of “integrity” in January 2014 continue to ring true.
“Do the right thing when no one is looking” is a (para) phrase which I read somewhere and I quietly lean on. I have seen it attributed as a definition of integrity but to me it means more than that. It speaks of quietly doing the right thing, without calling attention to what you are doing, so for the “right” reasons. It conveys the importance of being true to yourself and your values no matter how invisible or inconsequential that act may seem. We live in challenging times, where priorities and demands conflict and by selecting integrity, I am setting out the importance of ensuring that in everything I do, I must remain true and loyal to my values and principles. Integrity is the middle word for a reason. It must be at the core of everything I do. No matter what challenges come my way, I must be proactive and faithful to what is right. This will be tough for me. I know that the path of least resistance is one which I favour. I don’t like confrontation or conflict, and yet sometimes it is necessary to face up to difficult times and not allow wrong things to happen, by doing nothing. Integrity is like a beam of light which I must focus on and work towards.
I feel that if ever there is a word which we all need today, it is integrity. Do the right thing. Even, nay especially, if no one is looking. In our private and personal lives we have that constant responsibility to act with utter integrity. In our professional capacities, we must remain authentic and true to our values. As social beings, we must remain respectful, do what is right for each other and stand up for those whose voices are not heard or are misheard.
Today, as I watch out for the hummingbirds, Annie Lennox playing in the background, I am in a reflective mood. This is a day to challenge my own integrity and find the right, true path for me to act and live in these times.
Yesterday has already gone, retreating slowly and steadily further into the past. The day after yesterday is today. Today is the day we are in, for each one of us to play our part to shape the day after today. Tomorrow. And all of our tomorrows.