“It’s an irritating reality that many places and events defy description. Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, for instance, seem to demand silence, like a love affair you can never talk about. For a while after, you fumble for words, trying vainly to assemble a private narrative, an explanation, a comfortable way to frame where you’ve been and what’s happened. In the end, you’re just happy you were there- with your eyes open- and lived to see it.” – Anthony Bourdain
As I’m preparing to go back to South Africa from Norway for the second African Bush Retreat: Embody Your Inner Wild, I find myself wondering what made the experience so profound, even worth doing again. It felt magical and otherworldly while being welcomed back home at the same time. If the bush could speak for itself, it seemed to say:
I am warm, peaceful and accepting.
I want you to know that it’s not too late, you just forgot where you came from and you’re still welcome here.
I’m trying to help you heal by taking you out of your mind and into your body, to re-awaken your instincts.
The animals will teach by example how to be fully yourself and I will whisper through the wind, “Come back to me”.
Whenever we have a taste of joy and connection, we can use the memory of it in our everyday lives to feel for what really makes us happy, as well as revisit it whenever we need comfort. Back in Norway that has meant spending more time in nature, with animals and people I love.
As for missing South Africa, I imagine myself out in the bush. Seeing the wilderness from the top of a hill, being amongst elephants in a grassland and gazing into the eyes of kindred spirits.
If I’ve been unable to articulate the experience, these lines from the poem The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry could take us there in the daytime, while the song Green Arrow by Yo La Tengo could be our night sky:
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. (6-11)
If your story resonates with Ann-Kristin’s and you’d like to join for our next retreat please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to welcome you home to Africa.