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Load-shedding

Posted on Jun 10, 2015 by in Current events, My Story & Ideas, South Africa

forest

This past Saturday, Baymax (my car) and I went on an adventure.

{Side note: None of the people I tell could believe that I would go so far by myself… in fact, to be completely alone… and not be afraid. It worries me that we have become so driven by fear? I am not wreckless, but really, to drive 2.5 hours and wander around a forest in a nature reserve in the middle of nowhere – is that such a bizarre thing?}

Anyway, I wandered off, not lost, following foot paths, exploring a place devoid of the touch of humanity except in the bare minimal sense. The place is maintained, but with winter setting in they obviously don’t expect many visitors and between the rain of the week before and the course of nature, it was at times like a treasure hunt to find a path. It was such an immensely magical and restorative experience to hear just the sound of birds (and bees – they are protected there), to come across the footprints of deer, spider webs, little creatures going about their business in the underbrush… to be enthralled by moss… to wander for hours with sense overwhelmed, snapping away with my camera and phone because every glance and every picturesque moment was more spectacular than the next. I felt the closeness and humility that only standing in an ancient, yet vibrantly living, place can bring, feeling connected to the earth in ways I just don’t feel when I go to the sea or even stand on a mountain top. Those natural wonders are breathtaking too and appeal to me in their own  way, but put me in a forest and my spirit just soars.

I sat under a 1000 year old tree (pictured above) that sheds its skin from time to time so that new trees can be born stretching out its steps through the forest. It has been there for centuries, impervious to the passage of time and industry as a civilisation grew up in the area around it leaving it here in a seemingly isolated and protected valley forest, not moved by attacks on its body, just moving on, adapting, sending out new shoots, a testament to ages our fragile little bodies can’t even comprehend. I stopped here a while, just listening, the poetry in my soul just quiet for a while, soaking in the spirit of the place, letting it shed the skin of cares that I have been wearing for the last few months, restoring my inner equilibrium.

I came back from my forest walk that seemed a world away to my responsibilities, my dogs, my home, my job, efforts to make our lives and the lives of people I love better, striving for bigger things still but at peace with the present moment. As I write this, I will freely admit that despite this, I felt today a stab of loneliness again, but I am bigger than loneliness, but also smaller. Too small to be affected by it. I am an invisible atom – my footsteps already forgotten by those ancient trees among the many that have passed that way and paused there before – only visible in what I touch and the difference I make in the world, such as it is. I feel refreshed and calm. Uncertain still about a great many things, and yes, part of me wishes I could have taken someone special with me to walk those hallowed tree-filled halls in shared, respectful and awed silence… maybe that chance will still arise, but it was a necessary thing for my heart to walk that path alone that day, to feel both touched and untouched, wild with longing and demure and comforted in reverence of such a beautiful place, and filled with a sense of insignificance, yet deep belonging, such as I have but rarely felt in my 33 years.

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