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True and Essential (An Africa Story)

When we are born, we are more true and essential than at any other point in our lives. As we mature, life often asks us to set aside this natural way of being to accommodate its demands. We interact with others as if the outer world defines us, as if our labels, success, and status are how we gain our worthiness.

The first time I went to Africa in the summer of 2019, I shored up my insides as I prepared to meet the people of the Londolozi Game Reserve bordering Kruger National Park. This is where I do my best to mirror others as we go about pretending how we look or what we do are the most important things about us.

As soon as I set foot off the plane my 'shoring up' energy evaporated. The people who greeted us welcomed us with whole-hearted acceptance. No need for pretense as joy permeated the air at our arrival. I had not anticipated I could show up as my true and essential self and not only be accepted, but celebrated. The pace of life, the absence of distractions, the symbiotic relationship with the natural wonder surrounding us, it felt like how life is meant to be lived.

Even three years later, this feeling of total acceptance has stayed with me. I thought it was a once in a lifetime sort of thing. I might catch a glimpse of it while walking the beach near my home as the ocean envelops my spirit, but these moments vanish. I am once again left with my ordinary self, falling into patterns of endless busyness to prove my worth to myself and to the world.

Then, I went to Kenya and I learned my experience at Londolozi in South Africa was not an isolated incident. Kenya is a place where spirit-meets-spirit every where you go.

We were provided tea, given gifts, and offered more food than we knew what to do with. The level of generosity was staggering given the extent of poverty we saw throughout our travels. It was beautiful and humbling as the pace of each day slowed down to keep our attention in the present moment. There was no hurry about anything, ever, and while this may have tested our patience at times, our spirits found respite in this in-between.

After both of these trips to Africa, the contrast in culture upon our return home is a jarring experience. It takes a few weeks to find the urgency to hurry up and get back to those infinite lists of tasks that will never all get done.

I am holding tight to the memory of living life as spirit guides me, embraced by the African sun in every iteration I am or may become, breathing hope into my days and doing my best to stop trying to do my best.

Just to be.


Note the elephants in the background part of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and our view steps from our cottage.

Inward & Onward

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