Sunday 9 March 2014

Life Lessons from the African Bush

We're fast approaching the end of the first quarter of 2014 (already!) and the storms we've experienced the past three years continue to buffet us.  

As we must be able to face whatever the rest of the year has in store for us with equanimity, hubby and I decided to take time out from our day-to-day life to find our spiritual centre, which has been spiralling into a breathless void as one crisis after another comes to test us.  

Where better to find the calm acceptance that all is as it must be than in the bush? 

So, after the latest blow, we packed up and headed off to the Pilansberg Nature Reserve, a place where the spirit voices whisper wisdom as old as time to soothe our troubled souls:

No matter how old you are, 
Moms are always there for you

At a moment's notice, without hesitation, despite her personal plans and her allergy to cats, my Mom packed up her life and moved into our house to kitty-sit her grandkit Shadow, and to keep the home fires burning so that we could escape into the bush. Now that's Mother love in its purest form.

Look beyond the obvious 

We almost missed this frog, and the lion cub and her mother. But, like what happens in life, the bush is never what it seems at first glance. When we look beyond the obvious, we can find a greater truth in between the rocks and reeds that colour our lives. Once seen, that truth gives us the strength to go forward with calm minds and wonder in our hearts.

No matter how big the obstacle, face it fearlessly

As we turned a corner, we unexpectedly came across a nursery herd of elephants.  This little fellow ignored the fact that our car was three times his size. He mock charged us several times, letting us know he wasn't afraid of us. I got such a fright, I forgot to take photos until he'd finished his charging and was leaving the battlefield an exhausted victor. Only after he'd scared us off, did he scamper away to hide behind his Mom, quietly grazing along the roadside as she ignored us puny humans with magnificent disdain! When life throws another curve ball at us,  sometimes the only way to deal with it is to spit fear and discouragement in the eye and stand your ground. Let it not matter if your opponent is bigger and more dangerous than you: be a warrior as mighty and courageous as this little elephant! 

Nothing is ever wasted

In the centre of the game reserve, nearby a waterhole, is a small cafe, a curio shop and some much needed restrooms. I fell in love with these two root sculptures decorating the Zebra Crossing cafe. Whether decaying back into the soil or being turned into beautiful art, nothing in the bush is wasted: it's all part of the eternal cycle of life. So too, is every experience - good or bad, happy or sad - that we must endure in our lifetimes. If we can take the best out of what happens, even if it's only the tiniest glimmer of hope, then all that happens has its purpose and its place in our personal life cycles.

Patience is a well rewarded virtue

We were very lucky on this trip. We managed to have long periods of solitude  - just us and the busy silence of the bush - in the various bird hides scattered around the reserve. I had the time to wait ... and wait ... and wait ... have you ever watched how fast a dragonfly darts around? Eventually this dragonfly hovered in one place long enough for me to snap it, reminding me that sometimes we just have to hang in there and not give up! It doesn't matter if the objective is a minute or a mile away, if you keep steady and focus on the moment in hand, you really will get where you want to go.

You can have too much of a good thing 

Rain, in water scarce South Africa, is always a blessing.  But, after days of heavy rain that damaged the park's infrastructure and left the animals wet and bedraggled, we realised that sometimes one can have too much of a good thing. When we take the abundance in our lives for granted; when we forget that  keeping to our soul's path is more important than any amount of material blessings, then it's time to go back to basics and reassess what's really important in life.

As always, the bush brought back our inner serenity. We came home reminded that in these tumultuous times we live in, life itself, like the African bush, is full of ever-present danger. When living through times that rock the foundations of our inner and outer worlds, we can learn the lessons of elemental nature and find an inner peace that, like the mountains of the Pilansberg, like the place of the rock, reminds us that we will endure. And, at the end of the journey, all will be well.