I was so excited to be on safari in Botswana. Everything is primal, basic and within hours I can feel my senses and my instincts sharpen. Before sunrise, we are bundled up, and head out to witness life as it has always happened. I watch the world begin to wake, the birds, the grasses, the big cats. It is such a privilege to feel like a witness and a participant in both the magical and mundane; a mother leopard and her cubs are on the move.
This day I had arranged a visit with a couple that had rescued 2 elephants more than 10 years prior. I am a supporter of animal rescue organizations and hoped our not-so-small fee could help redress some of the toll humans have had on these magnificent creatures and their habitat. I was fascinated; these elephants weren’t held in enclosures but were free to roam. Having been raised by humans since being calves, they chose to stay close to their human herd.
Having spent a whole morning quietly observing and then being introduced to these magnificent creatures, we were now just trundling along together in the long grass, as you would with a couple of friendly dogs, to find a shady spot where we would all rest a bit in the afternoon heat.
The swaying wild sage filled the air with its full, pungent smell and scented the thrill of walking out in the wild. This is a land where you walk (with guides!) vigilant, present and alert. Absolutely focused on the moment. Aware of self and surroundings, connected with everything. You need to be in that palpable and heightened state of flow to survive here.
Oh! - the very sweet feeling of being a part of the whole. I was part of this system, we were together in harmony, there was an incredible sensation of being at once a small speck and an intricate piece.
And then, uncontrollably, I started to well up.
It was suddenly just so awesome.
And my tears started to make me feel self-conscious and vulnerable.
It feels so daring to connect to being happy – and so exposed to show it, doesn’t it? Sometimes it is the beautiful emotions that are the hardest to share. My instinct was to pull back, to hide my vulnerability, disconnect from the moment, withdraw like a mother lion stealing away with her cubs. I felt the need to hide my happiness in order to protect it, so it couldn’t be deflated or harmed by another. Suddenly a little fear crept in.
I reached for my husband Gerry’s hand. In search of solace, I sought connection. He squeezed back. As if to say “I know, it is truly remarkable, stay here with me”. A sudden moment of belonging.
A crackle of connection.
I stayed present, connected, entranced.
Then the most magical thing happened.
This elephant reached out for me.
She took my hand in her trunk and walked with Gerry and me to the shade of the tree.
It seems like she too wanted to belong.
I will always remember the feeling of the nuzzling of her trunk. Her human family was not surprised. Elephants often hold trunks in their herds. They are very affectionate and live in strong matriarchal communities. Highly intelligent and emotional, did she sense the sudden fear of vulnerable happiness?
Was she just copying what she was seeing? Or was she wanting to be a part of the moment that Gerry and I were sharing?
I want to believe that it was the second.
I want to believe that she could feel the energy that was in radiating off of me. That she wanted to give me the courage to stay in my moment of hope and share in a moment of belonging.
It got me thinking.
What does it take to inspire action, love, tolerance, community in this time of fear and discord? Like so many others I want to be a part of what is good in the world. I want to step away from the fear-based conversations into the ones that are generative and hopeful. I want to be present with friends, met and not yet met, to create dialogue around possibility and community. I want to call to others who seek transformation and abundance. I believe the world is kind, people are inherently good and love is the answer. But how do I gather others around me? How do I find the courage to publish all of that in my life and feel the vulnerability that comes with it? I hear the naysayers, the debaters, the ones that would ridicule me for the hope that I ground myself into.
Where else can I radiate so that others will reach for my hand, join in and belong?
Could this magnificent elephant have given me the answer?
Sometimes you need to be the first one to fall in love, to feel the moment, to dare to connect. Every moment of belonging needs first a vulnerable desiring of connection and authentic presence. In seeking connection instead of protection, I created an opportunity for a magical bond to appear.
Now, when I dare to connect with the overwhelming feeling of oneness and beauty I stay present and simply allow myself to be a portal for what I believe is possible. To radiate celebration and wonder.
It worked in the Okavango Delta, it might work right here.
Thanks to all of you – in celebration of what we are creating together. A space where those of us who write and photograph - publish our optimism and our gratitude in hopes that it compels YOU to reach out and grasp our extended hands. Together in belonging and celebration, we will inspire harmony and change.
Have fun doing good in the world,
My dear friend, Dewitt Jones and I will once again be hosting a transformational retreat- OCTOBER 27 - NOVEMBER 3, 2018 in beautiful Molokai, Hawaii.
"The Re-Imagined Self", Invites 15 women into peaceful seclusion, to pause and recharge in order to reclaim or discover the woman they will dare to be now - challenging the notions of ageing and beauty, celebrating what it means to be feminine, powerful and bold. Join us! https://www.advivumjourneys.ca/retreats/-hawaii