six things: Michelle McGrane

Michelle McGrane

About Michelle

Michelle McGrane is the author of The Suitable Girl (published by Pindrop Press in the United Kingdom and Modjaji Books in South Africa). She lives in Johannesburg and blogs at Peony Moon.

Michelle’s website: Peony Moon

• One thing that’s always worth getting out of bed for

Unexpected things which illuminate ordinary days: The scent of tuberoses at the flower market; The green sheen of a hummingbird sipping sugar water at the feeder; The taste of honey oozing through layers of filo pastry and chopped nuts; The smell of Panamanian coffee beans roasting in the café across the street; A package with a foreign postmark; An unfamiliar word in the dictionary; A new novel from a favourite author; An impromptu night of dancing; A run of green traffic lights on the way home; A stranger’s smile in a supermarket queue; A poem that trails sparks.

• One thing about myself that often obstructs me

At various times I’ve been complacent about my life, lulled in the warmth and safety of my comfort zone. Stasis can lead to stagnation. It’s easy to follow the path of least resistance instead of taking risks and challenging oneself to live a more fulfilling life. I’ve discovered that much of what’s worthwhile demands at least that you open yourself to the experience and allow yourself to be vulnerable.

• One thing I’ve learned the hard way

That there are many things out of my control and that change is inevitable. Despite fear of the unknown and fear of failure, holding on to the past doesn’t serve me. I’m more resilient than I give myself credit for.

• One thing that gets under my skin

Impatient drivers who don’t maintain a safe following distance. An inefficient local postal service where letters posted the same day reach England, France and Hong Kong before they reach Cape Town. Automated phone systems, call centres and telemarketers. Inflammatory newspaper headlines. Television advertisements. Intolerance.

• One thing I’d love to change

Living in a city like Johannesburg it’s easy to be swept up in a whirlwind of ‘places to go, people to see’. I think people here generally have overly demanding lifestyles and operate under very high stress levels. Although it’s insidious, this is a choice and self imposed. I need to reflect on what’s really important to me and eliminate the things that aren’t essential to my well being. Life doesn’t have to be complicated. Elegance and simplicity are worth striving for.

• One thing I hope for

To live in grace.

About six things

‘six things’ is a series of micro-interviews with interesting and creative people, in which they’re asked to respond to a standard set of six prompts. A new ‘six things’ is published on the site each Saturday.