I enjoy my life here in LA. And sometimes I get too caught up with the city life here, that I forget how much I love being connected to nature. Luckily I get to travel to places like Sedona, New Mexico, Joshua Tree, and Ojai. And every time I arrive on one of these enchanted playgrounds, I get reminded of the deep love I have for it. Growing up in Africa gave me the privilege and the understanding of the value nature has to offer to life and its people. I remember we used to go to school barefoot with not a care in the world! Imagine that here in LA! I believe there are rules against it here. My feet was one with the earth. I used to run barefoot on the farmhouse grounds, walked through mud, water and whatever else showed up in front of me. On rare occasions a painful thorn would cut through my foot. It would hurt so much that my dad would have to come get me and carry me back home on his shoulders. Even that pain didn't stop me from connecting with her. I could not imagine separating myself from her, wearing shoes, creating a barrier between the soles of my feet and the soil of her rich earth.
Africa represents something very special to me. It's called freedom. The smell of grass, the wet soil after a thunder storm, the smell in the air after our first Summers rain, and the sound of the river next to the house was hypnotic. Of course as most humans we only appreciate these elements when it's absent in our lives. I didn't care much for it then. Or perhaps I did as much as I could at such a young age. I had a very strong desire to move to the US for most my young life, and that caused me to miss some of Africa's beauty then, but I can still recall everything about it, as if I've lived there just yesterday.
Being deeply connected to the earth like that, has left an imprint deep inside, that has gifted me with something very special. And that makes me who I am today. I believe I can find my sanity in a city like LA as I'm able to exchange with nature in this way. I can still find my ground within all the craziness this city comes with. This by remembering a love that runs deep within my veins. It gave me a sense of adventure that I will carry with me till my last day on this earth. I am a kid at heart, and believe I will always be one no matter my age. Being connected to the earth ushers in a purity of heart and brings an appreciation for the cycle of life. I just get it. I've witnessed it intimately, over and over again growing up. The cycle of life and death. Impermanence. Not just in nature, this too in the loss of numerous significant people in my life, passing over to the other side. Africa ushers in many experiences where we get to truly learn the impermanence of life. And it brings the gift of living each day to the fullest. I find that most South Africans have that sense of aliveness and adventure. “Why wait for tomorrow? Lets do it today!”
Everywhere you look in Africa, you will find ample space, beautiful nature, and untouched earth all around. A vast panoramic vision everywhere you look, reminding you that there's so much more to life than the concrete buildings we live in, and what we do or pursue as a career. Who we are and what we are connected to, is what's most important. The Kruger Park is the biggest game farm in South Africa. It has many entrances. We lived closed to one of the gates of this particular park. So we would spend almost every weekend in the park.
Tracing footprints of animals, listening to the sounds of birds and learning which is which. Counting shooting stars and getting lost in the cosmos gazing at the milky way on a cloudless night. For most nights it was shining brightly down at us. The Southern Cross and all the other heavenly bodies showed up in their full presence, and lets not forget the open vanilla skies. No wonder I have a very special connection with the stars and the planets. I feel there energies pulsing through my body. I've seen some of the most spectacular sunsets to date in Africa. It's mesmerizing and captivating, and just too beautiful to capture with a camera. Instead I would capture it with my heart, now stored in my memory.
Then as you lie on your back, and watch the sun go down, you begin to hear the sound of the animals spiraling louder and louder around you. Many nights we'd camp out, and it would feel as if there is no separation between you and nature. You hear the predators walking around your tent, smelling you sleeping on the inside. Or should I say, trying to sleep, while your shivering from fear, waiting for their attack, and you becoming a midnight snack!
I feel blessed to have had the privilege to experience life in this way. I walked away from it for a long time. I cursed it when everything around me in my family life came crashing down. When things beyond my control were happening, and all I had to do was go along with what was happening. And I think I got bitter at God and nature for taking away all I loved so dearly and dropped me into environments with the lack of love. And so I disconnected from it for a long time. I didn't realize I did, until one fine morning a few years back, sitting in New Mexico. This, my first trip to that particular part of the country. I felt the wind blowing against my skin, and it spoke to me. It came to remind me of its existence, and how much I used to love it. In that moment I remembered a part of myself I've lost or gave up when I was very little. And the memories of Africa started filtering back in. The love I have for it and the longing to connect with it, was palpable. I started waking up, and remembering the child who used to love nature and who lived with an unwavering trust and open heart! I missed that part of myself tremendously.
Africa is inside of me. I disconnected to a very big part of myself, because I was bitter. I trusted life and everything in my life. I loved unconditionally, with a purity of a child's heart. And when life took a turn for the worse, it left me in a space of shock. And I turned my back on life, thinking that life turned its back on me. I swallowed myself, and went inward, escaping what was uncomfortable on the outside. I disconnected from the ground under me, and everything I trusted and knew that I called my so called life, and I went silent and numb.
And on this beautiful day in NM a new journey started, one taking me back into nature and into myself. Allowing a feeling of support and trust to filter back in. I needed to heal and let go of resentments, and walls I built around myself, and the illusion that life is not to be trusted. Blaming life for my circumstances was not really getting me anywhere anyhow. The sensations under the soles of my feet continued to change year in and year out since this wake up call. The sensitivity of it started to come back and I gave in to the support underneath it, opening bit by bit. Beginning to receive the earth and its support I used to trust unconditionally like any child should.
Every day I'm dropping veil after veil, letting go of resentments and painful memories. Things that just don't deserve the value of my time in the present moment anymore. Life is waiting. The beauty of life keeps knocking. There is just too much magic around to hold to to anything from the past. I can allow it to co-exist in the present, as it sculpted me in this way. As long as it's not being used to excuse myself from my purpose and life that is meant to be lived today.
And today I feel deeply connected to her, like I used to feel when I was little, roaming around on the African soil. She speaks to me. She nurtures. She supports. She validates. She gives life. She protects. She pulls me out of my ego and reminds me of the true meaning of life. She guides me into my eternal beating heart. A heart that can never be silenced. The force that it is, is just too powerful to be taken down by life. The challenges only makes her beating louder and with more conviction. She is a native African woman. We are durable goods and can handle a lot. In some ways perhaps even welcome the challenges of life, as it keeps life interesting. And it brings out the best in me. Especially when I bring the purity of my innocent heart to meet life, heart first.
Africa has taught me so much about life and I can't wait to give back to her what she has given me.