This post first appeared on 'Writes for All Mommies' on June 19th, 2019. I am posting it to cultivate my courage once again for our upcoming trip to Kenya at the end of this month.
Magic is real.
I lived it up close.
Close enough I could feel the air shimmer over my skin as a lion sauntered past me. Less than a foot away I dug deep for courage as I sat exposed in an open-air Land Rover. His paws silent as marshmallow pillows, his movements sleek as a crocodile slicing through a murky riverbed.
Even in the stillness this king exuded power.
All of it magic.
This is how I know fear does not always tell the truth. If I had listened to fear I would have stayed home in my Cubs pajamas.
I would have missed an enraged elephant tossing sand at me as we interrupted his hunt for female companionship.
I would have missed seeing so many leopards that I lost count. Mothers and babies, lone leopard warriors stalking the land for dinner, a female leopard mating with a father and son to ensure protection of her future progeny, leopards in trees and on termite mounds.
An abundance of spots and I loved every, single one of them.
I would have missed meeting my mentor, Martha Beck.
Martha is a Light Writer and life coach. Meeting her meant everything to me. Her writing and wisdom carried me through a time in my life when I needed it most. Getting to tell her that in person was, you guessed it, magic.
Martha is one of the reasons I cast my fear aside brought my fear with me, let it have its say and still went to South Africa anyway.
I did it for her and for Mad Dog. His lifelong dream consisted of coming face to face with a lion while on safari. I flew nearly 50 hours, endured 17 hours of layovers in Qatar, willingly rose daily at dawn and perched myself without complaint in a vehicle minus any enclosures to face the fiercest animals in all the land.
I would do it all again if only to see Mad Dog’s face each and every time we encountered lions.
I hold gratitude for everyone who made it possible for Mad Dog to realize this dream. From our extraordinary ranger and tracker, to my in-laws who took care of the boys and dogs while we traipsed across the savanna.
Wine tastes better with zebras nearby and an African sunset to feast our eyes upon.
Our awesome ranger/driver, Bruce, (next to Mad Dog) and our gifted tracker, Rob (next to me).
Every day dazzled us with mystery and wonder.
My favorite African bird, the Lilac-Breasted Roller, made sure to pose for this most treasured photo.
As we watched animals roaming free and living immersed in the present moment, our hearts cracked open a bit wider and we grew in wisdom and love.
I never knew a place could change me forever.
But, then again, I had never been to Africa.