This time last year I was jetting between European cities attending meetings, visiting remote factories and delivering presentations, all the while glued to my phone, responding to emails, calls, skype messages and more. My life was divided into 30 minute sections with each one planned, actioned and diligently followed up. So when I left it all behind in January to complete a 5 month intensive training course in the African bush I felt somewhat lost, disconnected in fact, from everything I knew, everything that was familiar to me.
The aim of the course was to become a professional field guide – with a plan to take guests out on safari and educate them on some of the finest flora and fauna mother nature has to offer. Suddenly time was measured only by the rising and setting of the sun, tweets were actual bird calls, and reading the morning news meant checking the dusty roads for animal tracks. Nature has an uncanny knack of bringing calm to any situation and as the weeks passed, and the tree names and bird calls started to sink in, I found myself connecting in a different way.
We were encouraged to find a “sit-spot” and spend at least 10 minutes a day there – observing our surroundings such that any change, however small, we would notice (“situational awareness” is paramount in the guiding profession of course). I struggled at first to sit still for those 10 minutes, but as time went on, I started to look forward to seeing how many more webs the spiders had made in the path and how many more leaves had fallen to land on a particular stone by my feet. Soon enough 10 minutes became 20, and the more time I spent in my sit-spot the less stressed I became and the longer I wanted to stay. It was like a tonic. Each time I stood to get back to my studies, I felt refreshed, relaxed and ready for anything the bush had to throw at me.
Now that my training is over, I am working as the newest member of the Mukambi Safari Lodge team, situated on the banks of the stunning Kafue River in Zambia where our staff, guests and visitors have an endless number of stunning “sit-spots” to choose from. In today’s media-obsessed world people have a constant need to be connected… to the internet, to each other, to their phones, to their instagram feeds, twitter, facebook, snapchat and more. The list is endless. But I can’t help thinking how much calmer, healthier, more tolerant and understanding the human race would be if we took a break every now and then; disconnected from technology for a while and re-connected with the earth once more. She has endless lessons to teach us, if only we would take the time to sit, listen and observe.