The bush has a funny way of reminding you that nothing (or everything if you want to be sceptical) happens by chance. What you see, what you witness, what you experience is a product of a series of events that are meant lead you somewhere that you might miss, should you not listen. The meaning is not always clear, but things have a funny way of always working out… in the end.
Amongst guides there’s a famous book called “Guides guide to guiding”. When first training to become a guide we were told to read this book, and find out where we fit amongst all the different approaches. There are many types of guides, the hero guides, the wannabe guides, the scientific guides, the risk takers and so on. I cannot recall all the names but the one that stroke me is the guide that guides for nature and not so much for people. I always had these conversations with Allan when things got deep at the end of a long day. I’ve always been the guide that deals with (some) people as a price to be out in the wilderness everyday. Not because I dislike people but because I like animals more. On a particular occasion this was all I could think of when a met a group of ladies that were bound to spend 2 nights in the bush with me. I was excited to have an all girl team as it can be a lot of fun, but one of them was having none of it.
“Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Ale”
“Hi, it’s nothing against you but we don’t want you”
When you meet someone and these are the very first words spoken to you… well, you sigh. All of a sudden 2 nights seemed an eternity. Their problem wasn’t with me. They were repeat guests and just wanted the guide they had on their previous visit, but had forgotten to make a request so the lodge had assigned them to me. While it was an understandable disappointment, rudeness should never be justified.
As the days went on I found out about their lives as they did mine. We shared conversations about conservation, poaching and wildlife behaviour while enjoying some great sightings in the bush. The one lady however was still set in her ways. Forcing myself to smile while pouring gin and tonics, I was caught in the crossfire between her will and the lodge’s logistics. When she couldn’t get to me in terms of knowledge she then decided to show her displeasure of me being a foreigner in someone else’s land, all her attention and questions were then addressed to the tracker, as I wasn’t good enough, because I’m a foreign girl living in Africa. I had ruined her vision, and she wanted me to know.
In the end, I had a lovely time with the rest of the ladies and had some unbelievable sightings. The attitude of this woman however got me thinking in the quiet driving moments of a safari about life, and about a part of life I’ve been struggling with this year:
“Why is it so hard to let go?”
She could have had a better time should she not have spent the better part of two days trying to tear me apart because I didn’t fit her plan, her vision of what this specific safari would be. Why couldn’t she let herself be surprised in the company of someone else? There was a stubbornness to her that got me thinking that we are all at some point guilty of allowing our minds to play us, making ourselves our own worst enemies when it comes to enjoying life.
Why is it hard to let go of an idea we had in mind of how things are supposed to look like, feel like and adapt to our given circumstances? Does it have to be this hard? Why is going with flow so challenging?
In a year where things have constantly been up in the air, where I have become a nomad once more, I have struggled to go with flow, to adapt to life rather than ragingly react. The Universe has shown me very clearly (like the “accidental” branch to the face the lady got to for being terribly rude on one occasion) that the anxiety comes from wanting to control everything, wanting to have all the answers when I don’t have all the puzzle parts. For not being able to let go I’ve struggled more, I’ve stressed more, I’ve fought more and I’ve been unhappy.
Letting go of what we thought would be or should be can lead to the most magnificent and rewarding experiences. It’s not a hippie easy-go-lucky life mantra for me, it requires hard work and perhaps the bush is reminding me it’s time to let go again. To learn to dance in the wind with the leaves, to get wet in the rain and to let the sun dictate where I go. It’s time to let myself be surprised by what’s in store rather than trying to stick to a plan and making it work. It’s time to learn how to let go of the plan, the anger, the expectations and learn how to hold on to the beauty of the ever changing possibilities around me.
After all, learning to let go and embracing a new curve ball is what lead to my biggest adventure yet.