It’s when we’re far away from the noise of our daily lives when we are allowed to once again marvel at the different stories that walk along the Earth. Taking a step back and having the ability to silence the noise around and rediscover the Universe under a new light us is a privilege most don’t have.
One of my favourite things about going on safari is that – if only for a moment – most people allow you to see their true self. They reveal their stories, their most inner hopes and are allowed to be who they’re not allowed to be in their everyday lives. I am convinced about this, because I see it happen to me.
Recently I came across a man named Thierry and it was our meeting and subsequent conversations that sparked the restoration of a piece of me I had lost: the belief that world is good. Thierry started a process of self -discovery and world awakening that no one else could have.
“I took a cool photo of you and the leopard, look”.
“Oh that’s great, I will have to give you my email address and then you can send it to me”.
“oh. Well, do you have an iphone? I can just airdrop it to you”.
“I don’t have a cellphone”.
“Nono, I didn’t mean here, we can doing back at the camp”.
“Oh no, I don’t own a cellphone at all”.
… Jaw dropped.
Before I could stop it my inner millennial blurted out:
“Like at all?! How do you even live like that?” – I can’t ever control this mouth of mine, I despair.
“Well I have email and… an answering machine back at home”.
“…An answering machine? Like the nineties?” – by now I have imagined that answering machine to the smallest details.
“Exactly” answered Thierry with a wide grin.
The last few weeks had been weeks of soul searching and detox from social media and the outside world as a way of searching for my faith in humanity to be restored. The outside disappointed and so I searched within for answers. Some wonderful things come about from having your life exposed to others but also some dark ones that have destroyed part of me. I was so deep in the hole that I didn’t realise it was as simple as Thierry’s statement, to chose life, not the one you want people to believe you have, but the one you live, the one you should love dearly.
“So no phone at all?”.
“None at all”.
I wasn’t expecting my faith in humanity to start coming back while dodging croton branches when coming out of a leopard sighing, talking to a man I’d just met. But in that simple statement of a way of life, Thierry reminded me that there is a way of living where you prioritise those close to you; you keep you eyes on what’s real. It’s not complicated. It’s not dramatic. It’s possible to just do it for you and unknowingly Thierry opened a door I had slummed shut.
After Thierry left, the wilderness graced me a sequence of short meetings, messages and experiences that help rebuild my faith in humanity. Little by little all my interactions with other people started rebuilding a web of… hope and in belief that there is goodness in this world.
First came Liz & John, the type of people that fill your heart with warmth. They too had made it back to the wilderness as they could now go on holiday – their daughter had received an unexpected kidney (that’s right the actual organ) from a friend. Her friend gave her one of her kidneys’ as she didn’t want her friend’s adopted children to grow up without their mother.
There was Diane who had never touched a camera before, but allowed herself to dive into a new world without losing track of what mattered. Our best game viewing was thanks to her bush karma.
Then came Alice. In the midst of her own sorrows, she loved enough to reach out and offer sobriety in a time anyone had an opinion.
Barbara then came along to shares stories of witches, magic and powerful thoughts. She reminded me of the power that comes from throwing your wishes into the wind and drowning the thoughts that serve you not.
Faith then appeared, braver than before with a steel plan of taking a break to re-focus and readjust to claim again her kingdom. She showed me that from the ashes, the phoenix always rises.
Along were always Mari and Tayla to remind of what it’s like to be fierce and to be honest about what you feel. They provided me with the courage of not being afraid.
Then there was Mike who offered a big smile and a reminder that it’s possible to enjoy this life in all the new directions you are set.
At the end of these few weeks came Gerry with a pair of new shoes; the spider living in my boots had become unbearable for my toes. She showed me that true friendship is less about burning shoes together and more about being what a friend needs.
Along came Emma too with coffee and cookies for a pyjama party. Reminding me that you can find the best of friends even in the worst of companies.
It’s impossible to mention everyone that played a part in restoring these bits over the last few months. Once the door was opened for good people to come in, so many shone through. Those that are always there are the ones that kept me from losing hope entirely and held me when I crumbled, it was because of you three that the ember kept flaming and the only reason why the door wasn’t locked shut forever.
I discovered later that afternoon that Thierry does have Facebook and an iPad; he now knows how to airdrop his photos onto his device too. What he doesn’t know though is the profound impact he had on me and the snowballs effect his words had in my darkness. He showed me that there are no chains, no social conventions; there are only the choices that we make. With just a simple statement, he opened my mind up to the courage and hope I had forgotten I had.
To you Thierry, merci.
**Thierry is a real person, if you want to celebrate a great photographer check him on out ThierryPrieurPhotographie
*** He’s recently opened and Instagram account too and I couldn’t be prouder.