We have to reconnect. Over a century of urbanisation, competition and consumerism we’ve lost that simple sense of our place among all living things. Intellectually we know it and can trace the mutually reinforcing links of our place in the biological diversity around us but on another level – the intuitive level of heart and soul – we’ve been deadened and deafened. We don’t hear the call of the wild, we’re too sure of our domination over nature and human ability to triumph over adversity. We think we can go it alone.
If you’re lucky enough to immerse yourself in the incredible intensity of the wilderness at Londolozi, my advice is take the time to listen for the call. Visiting there this July I discovered that nature is generous in her efforts to create that connection.
You can get pretty close to an elephant if you’re downwind and the herd is eating or on the move; they make so much noise they don’t know you’re there until they see you. When they stop moving and eating you know they’re listening, they know you’re there. I’m a bit like that too. Always moving, going to the next place, consuming and busy. The doing, the pleasing, the stuff of everyday seems to require a frenzy of motion from me. So sometimes, more often than not, I need something or someone to create the external conditions that allow me to shift into stillness.
And sometimes (and often at Londolozi) those steps towards stillness fall so neatly into place that all you need to do is follow them. For me it was a twilight drive as the day turned cool and still. Our ranger Mrisho spotted a female leopard on the move, beautifully blending into the gold and charcoal winter colours of the bush.
We followed in the usual joy-inducing off-road pathfinding that is the foregrounding of extraordinary game sightings. Suddenly without breaking her stride the leopard sounded out a guttural call. It’s hard to describe, not a roar or a mewl; it seemed to roll out of her chest and fill the air without any discernible effort. “It’s a contact call,” says Mrisho, “she’s a mother, and she’s calling her cub.”
For the next couple of hundred metres she continues to call, steadily increasing in frequency. When Mrisho switched off the vehicle explaining, “The cub is close now, watch from that direction. Wait until you see how happy they are when they reunite,” no one dared to take so much as a breath.
And then, flagged first by the appearance of the white and black tip of a tail above the long grass, we see a single cub. So sweetly put together is this young cub, bravely coming out of hiding at his mother’s call, that the sight of his cavorting and jumping – it seemed in an effort to kiss her – it’s almost more than your heart can take.
This was the scene and the sound that was resounding in me the following morning when I had the privilege of going on a Sound Therapy journey guided by BJ at Londolozi’s Healing House. Sound Therapy wakes the tuning fork of your inner being – I can’t think of another way of explaining it. It immerses you in rhythm and resonance, all around your body through gongs, prayer bowls and song, and in your body through thrumming vibrations placed on your sacrum, spine and base of the skull. The sound is so hypnotic and the vibrations in your body so fundamental that you relax into a singular sense of harmony. Without thinking about it the sound seemed to quieten the tumult and distractions, letting me hear, feel and almost see my most heartfelt wishes. Just as it took no effort to hear and be moved by the mother leopard’s call, the awakening of my senses at the Healing House required no effort from me. The contact call seemed like a two way thing, just as my being called into the greater web of life, so every animate thing called back to me. It created a seamless joy; without boundaries or fear, full of endless possibility.
And if there was a risk of opening my eyes and the ordinary objects in daylight causing me to doubt the transcendence of the journey – the first thing BJ and I saw was a Paradise Flycatcher dancing at the window. The beauty and extravagance of the Flycatcher dispelled my instinct to trust only the sense of sight. The Flycatcher was for me, without question, evidence of nature’s endless generosity.
That was my journey at Londolozi. It was such a powerful reminder that if you take the time to stop and listen you will hear Mother Nature’s contact call coming in deep and low. It’s a beautiful thing. It reminds us that we have everything we need to live in harmony with nature, we just have to reconnect, be brave and step forward.
Post by Londolozi Guest Tatjana van Bormann