Sunday, 4 August 2013
Fear Factor: South Africa Edition
So, remember how I told you I was sleeping out in the bush the other night?
Well, compared to where I am now, that was New York City.
Tonight, I've elected to sleep in a hide, twenty minutes away from the nearest people. And those people are an hour and a half away from the nearest town. This, friends, is really the bush.
And if you're reading this, it's proof that I've survived. This is Fear Factor: South Africa Edition.
I've decided to sleep out here - by myself - for a number of reasons. First one being, it sounded really cool. In the daylight, when we visited with 8 other people. I said - out loud - wouldn't it be cool to sleep out here? I was thinking with my husband, when we come back some time in the undetermined future.
But then, the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be a fabulous adventure if I did it by myself. Tonight. So, I asked. The owners said yes. And here I am.
So I should probably describe where I am, as it's too dark to take any pictures.
I'm at a water hole, deep in the wilderness. All around me there are leopards, lions, buffalo, rhinos, antelope - any number of animals. And no electric fences this time, for my comfort or yours. Now, despite the wilderness, I still have five star (well, maybe four and a half star) accommodations. I am high in the trees, open to the stars. I'm in a king-sized bed with the fluffiest duvets. They've set out hot water for morning ablutions, a picnic chest filled with wine and scotch, even lotions and potions and a port-o-potty for midnight marauderings. In short, this is how I expect to camp from now forward.
But the fact remains I'm out in the bush, twenty minutes away from people, in a gorgeous dark night. Frogs are singing, stars are abundant. I can see the Southern Cross from my bed.
It's my second last night in South Africa.
It's fitting, perhaps, that I'm sleeping under the constellation Scorpio, as that is my sign. I feel so at peace, so far away from every stress, so complete and happy with myself. It's an amazing feeling. And an unfamiliar one.
But tonight - though it's my penultimate night, maybe it really is my ultimate night in Africa. I'm completely alone, which means I'm completely alone with myself, and for a self-confessed introvert, it's a place to refuel.
And I already feel reinvigorated. I'm excited about everything. I'm excited about work when I get home. I'm looking forward to new projects and new challenges. I look forward to how this new self will manifest.
I've been tested here, but I feel like I've passed. I haven't figured out all the ways yet, but I feel so proud of myself and everything I've accomplished here. Small things, like making new friends and driving on the opposite (read: wrong) side of the road - even driving on 12 lane freeways in San Francisco.
Actually, my driving experiences on this trip have taught me a valuable life lesson: though it often looks chaotic - it may be 60 miles an hour on an 8-lane bridge, or even just remembering to turn into the far lane when turning right - if you just focus on what you're doing, it's easy. If you freak out, you're lost. But staying in the moment with a little focus makes it all doable. It's a metaphor for life.
Staying in the moment is key. I'm rarely able to do this at home. I'm usually ten steps ahead of the moment, and I'm not really experiencing anything - I'm too busy planning. But here - especially when the moment is beyond my control, which at home cheeses me off beyond my patience - I've found great peace in simply doing what's called for at any given time. And even if it's not a particularly enjoyable task, like waiting for an air plane or hoeing a garden, the sheer enjoyment of throwing yourself into the task at hand and not thinking too far ahead has been a relief and a joy.
Something to remember for when I get home.
As for being here - exactly here, and figuratively here, I know that I will return. I'm already planning a more ambitious writing project with Hands for next year - here's hoping the stars align and we're able to make it happen.
I'm not sure if I've found my purpose, as I hoped when I set out. But I know that the work that I love to do involves deep connection with people. I find it when I teach and adjudicate - and volunteer.
I used to find it when I'd write. Unfortunately, the demands of being a professional writer have whittled that away, to a certain extent. Now I write for the client, not for me. But it's been writing to you, dear friends, in this blog, that has helped me to find that connection, that love again. Writing has been enjoyable - and necessary - for the first time in a long time. A huge thank you to all of you for helping me to find that again.
I'm excited about my new venture for this fall - starting a new company with a friend of mine which will be helping women - in particular, female entrepreneurs - find their own style and build their personal brand, both online and in real life. We're called the Retail Therapists, and we'll be launching this fall. It speaks to both my passion for shopping - and for connecting with people on a deeply personal level. I'm excited as to where it will take us.
And I really am excited about writing again. There are a number of corporate projects in the wings, and this break away from work - completely away - has been exactly what I need to regain my equilibrium and passion for this work.
And to my husband - my darling life partner - this time away has been tough. All along I've wished he was here. But there is a part of me that is glad that he wasn't. I needed to go this trip alone - I needed a reminder of my own strength and courage and independence. These are things I haven't thought a lot about since we've been together, since I've been focused on the strength of our partnership. But having the freedom to do this alone - I've come back stronger and healthier, and more and more in love with him. I really do have the right mate - anyone who understands me well enough to let me have this solo adventure, to know that I needed it, well - it has been a great gift of love. I'm so very grateful.
And next time, he's coming with me. I wouldn't have it any other way.
As for where I am right now, right at this very moment, it's so very quiet. Nearly midnight, and even the frogs have stopped singing. The stars have faded to faint pins of light - clouds are rolling in, which has the mixed blessing of preserving warmth, but losing out on the night sky show.
I can't express how happy I am, right at this moment. If I could sum up this trip in one moment, it would be this. Here.