Let me take you away for a moment.
We’re going on a trip.
Imagine that all the stressful parts of traveling are behind you. The planning, the travel insurance. All the worries of what to pack. Even the taxi rides and flights are in the past. You’re here with me now, sitting on the deck of a treehouse suspended high up in a Jackalberry tree on the edge of a river in the middle of the African Wilderness. It’s a Saturday afternoon (although the day of the week never really matters here). It’s winter at Londolozi, but the temperature right now couldn’t be more perfect. The slightest breeze is blowing – just enough to move the air.
Around us are the colours of the riverine bush. Bright apple greens and lemon yellows of the leaves mixed with the powder blue of the sky peeks through the leaves and that stretches out ahead of us on the horizon. The sandy riverbed and the branches of the trees mix together to create multiple shades of brown and beige.
Most people would call this blissful silence. But, in fact, the air is thick with the consistent companionship of the sound of the birds all around us in the trees. The river gurgles below us as it gently moves past, casting brilliant shapes of crystal light as the sun and water meet. Nearby, a swarm of bees buzz gently around a flowering shrub.
The luxurious act of reading a novel up in the tree after a late brunch has been interrupted by the telltale sounds of a small herd of elephants approaching the river for a drink. The Om in motion – a gentle rumble – signals that this is where they choose to stop for the next half hour. At first only one appears, and then another, and then another. And soon, silently, the whole herd is strung out in front of us, slaking their thirst. Taking their time. Here is where they need to be.
The sound of all 16 elephants slurping up the fresh river water makes us want to settle in for the show and we perch on the edge of the railings, letting our feet dangle over the edge, taking us back to childhood.
And, as we sit in companionship with elephants, high up in a tree in the middle of the wilderness, there is nowhere else we would rather be right now. Sitting in connection. With the elephants. With nature. With each other. And, most importantly, in connection with ourselves. We exist, just for these few moments, in a wordless state of being. We feel the energy of this river, and these elephants and each other fill us up.
The matriarch silently signals that it’s time to continue moving down the river, and the herd gently begin to sway their legs and swing their trunks in agreement. The teenage elephants break off their playful tussle and the calves are thoughtfully coaxed through the shallows to the bank on the other side of the river. There is no hurry to the procession.
As we watch the last stragglers catch up with the herd and then disappear into the bush with only the sound of a branch breaking under their feet to let us know that they are here, we return our attention to our books with a small, wry smile of enjoyment.
Stay with me a while, in this tree, on this afternoon, if you can.
Stay as long as you like.