There is a reoccurring theme on each safari: The first time someone sees a completely wild elephant, all reasoning jumps off the safari vehicle:
Cries, tears, shivers, fear, awe – the whole range of human emotions is present when one of these ancient creatures walks past for the very first time. Something awakes during that moment – and it grows bigger and bigger as the days on safari progress.
We had forgotten that we had this… this connection and deep understanding of the natural world. Within the four walls of our civilised reality something got lost in the midst of too much clutter, electronic devices, meetings and money problems.
I lived in a big city for almost ten years. I, too, had forgotten my true Nature as a human being.
But when I first went on safari in South Africa, it didn’t take me long to re-establish that connection to the wild. In fact, one might say it was my reason for coming here in the first place. I was longing for change, for something real, for a sense of belonging to Mother Earth.
The key to our future.
In an ironic way, the African wilderness – as much as any other earthly habitat that hasn’t been entirely exploited by man – holds the key to our future: Western tourists start to realise that the way they have treated the land and its resources is not only not sustainable – but it has also robbed them of their in-built, deepest, truest Nature as a creature sharing this Earth with all the others.
The Tourist and the Wild.
I’ve traveled many countries in Southern Africa over the last five years and the story I hear from the people living in the rural, wild areas amongst the other animals is oftentimes the same: They dream of having what the Western tourist has. Ironically, all the tourists want is to sleep under the stars, make fire with their own hands again, and seek places without cellphone service.
And while this human conundrum unfolds, the other animals just go about their daily lives, not knowing that their future lies entirely in our hands.
96% of the Earth’s land belongs to us. Humans and the livestock we produce to survive have taken up the entire planet. Only a shocking four percent is left for the rest, for elephants and lions and leopards and ostriches. Four percent.
And while they can’t tell us with words what they would like this Earth to be like, they do have a silent super-power overlooked by too many, but cherished by those who come to any wild place (not just in Africa):
True guardians of being.
Animals are, as Eckhart Tolle puts it, the true guardians of being. Spending time with any animal other than the human is the purest and simplest form of meditation – especially (but not reduced to) wild animals. Most humans have become so detached from Nature that, as soon as they focus once again on the natural world, they are moved in magical ways. Animals don’t provoke thought activity because animals don’t think (or at least, not the way us humans do). You can be entirely and unapologetically your self with animals.
When we watch an animal – we remember who we once were and who we still are deep down. Below our thoughts and fears and worries, we are still just sentient beings sharing this Earth with all the others. If there is one thing worth fighting for today, to me, it is this connection between us humans and all-that-is.
We don’t just have to come back to Nature – we have to remember that we ourselves ARE in fact Nature.