Reflections of Life 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 Corné Pretorius.

Learn more about Reflections of Life (formerly Green Renaissance) through our Grateful Changemaker feature.

Questions for Reflection

  • Which part or parts of Corné’s story resonated with you the most?
  • Is there something or someone in your life you may be taking for granted? If so, what could you do today to express your appreciation?
  • What wisdom have you gained from the natural world, an important elder in your life, or as the result of living through challenging experiences?

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

Video Transcript

I talk a lot to my plants, but if I put that in this conversation, they're going to lock me up for five years in a straight jacket. No, I do. No, you have to. They also need to be motivated or warned.

The amazement of growth is what floors me. If you see a seed germinating and you see that first little crack in the soil, a new leaf, a bud, a flower, something going dormant and waking up again. Life being born. And understanding that we are actually such a small part of something so much greater than us.

My granddad was a great gardener. He had a respect for life. He had a respect for plants. He saw it as an equal. I had an incredibly close connection with my grandparents. They taught me everything about love, life, beauty, respect. They're definitely responsible for the person that I am today. They accepted me. They boosted me. They held me. They motivated me. Every now and then they chastised me. But it was all because of love.

We take friendship and life for granted. We should never do that. Every day we should be grateful.

I used to phone them once a week. I really regret not phoning them every day. I wish I visited them more in their latter few months of their lives, that's a regret. But you know, one thing they taught me, guilt and regret are two emotions that you should never feed. Because there's nothing you can do about it. So rather take that energy and push it into love and joy, because that's an energy you can feed.

People ask me if I'm happy and then they ask me, how do you do that? And it's a very difficult thing to explain because one cannot always be happy the whole time. You've got to go through dark phases, you've got to go through dark spaces, to be able to appreciate the joy on the other side more, to appreciate the beauty more, to appreciate your life more.

Good times come again. There's a turn on the road. You never know what's on the other side, but you've got to look forward to taking the turn. We don't know what's around the corner. So I don't give that much thought. There's too much happening around me simultaneously today that I've got to look, see, talk, worry, embrace, pat, pet, live, laugh. Tomorrow is its own mystery.

A thing that my grandmother said, "if you're looking for the devil, you're going to find him. So rather not. Look for the beauty because you're going to find it."

They also wanted us to know there's magic out there. Don't be scared of it. That the world can be beautiful, you must just go and find it.

The moment I leave my gate, I just think, wow, this is all mine for today to just enjoy. Look at the clouds going past. Watch the sun come up. Listen to a robin just before it gets dark. There's a lot in the world that can keep you in awe. You must just go and find it and you must recognize it and drink it in.

It was very difficult in the beginning when they passed, my grandparents, but it's part of a cycle, and I think if you are a gardener coming back to gardening, you get to understand that. Compost and dead plant material feeds the next generation, which then reminded me as well of my vulnerability.

No matter what you do, your time is coming. There is a time that you won't be there. So while you are here do good, have fun, enjoy. Sink it in, soak it up, live it.

Do you miss them? 

I do, I do. I do a lot. I often just wish they could just see this, what their love has created. I would've given anything, on a day like today, to hold both their hands and just walk through the garden. But I also know that they are smiling at me every day because I can feel it.

And then you realize that love doesn't have borders, it doesn't understand age. It's just perpetual and forever and doesn't stop. They used to say that the whole time, that the most important thing is love.

To support Michael and Justine in their film-making journey, visit Reflections of Life.

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Reflections of Life

Reflections of Life

About the author

Justine and Michael are a creative couple living in South Africa.  Their project, Reflections of Life (formerly 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. Learn more and support their work at