It was a day before my youngest nephew’s fifth birthday, and I was packing the car to go and enjoy the weekend with the family. As I put the large multi-coloured helium balloon, shaped in the number five, in the back seat, I tried to recount whether I had packed everything I was meant to remember. I still couldn’t believe the rather exorbitant amount I was charged just to blow up the balloon, but I consoled myself by reminding myself that my nephew will only turn five once.


With everything finally packed, taps and plugs checked, I was ready to go. I was about to tie the balloon down so that it wouldn’t obstruct the windscreen while I was driving, when I suddenly discovered that there was no balloon. The large shiny number five had just vanished, just like that. Poof! Yes, I obviously hadn’t closed the doors while I was putting my things in the car, but there was barely a breeze and I was parked under a large carport at home.   


Have you ever started to search for something in places that defy all logic? Well, there I was, looking under the car, up and down the driveway, and even shooting an accusing glance at the dogs. Where on earth could a balloon that size have gone? I even walked around the yard staring up into the bright blue sky in the hope of spotting the rainbow number. Nothing. Needless to say, even if I had located the floating celebratory symbol, no amount of Red Bull would get me up there to retrieve it.  


So, there I was, at the last minute, driving back to the Crazy Store to go and buy another balloon. I was annoyed with myself for not securing the balloon properly the minute I placed it in the car. Would you believe I still glanced up into the sky as I drove, in case I spotted the blasted thing? And what was meant to happen if I had spotted the damn thing? Was I somehow envisaging a high-speed chase through the streets of Ekurhuleni? Perhaps a few roadblocks? The second balloon I bought was a different colour -just in case I was jinxed.


The following day, as we prepared to take some birthday treats to my nephew’s nursery school, I started wondering if there was a hidden lesson or message in the balloon’s disappearing act. The only thing I can think of, is that sometimes we hold onto things long after we should have let them go. We hold onto relationships, jobs, and negative experiences that have turned toxic, often hoping in vain that they’ll miraculously transform into what they once were. In Sesotho the saying is: se sa feleng se ya hlola. Roughly translated it means that that which is indefinite is abnormal.


The sooner we let go of those things that no longer serve a meaningful purpose in our lives, is the sooner we are able to create room for those new things that await us. Learn to let go.