Years ago when I was training to be a counsellor we were all encouraged regularly to become as creative as possible, in whatever way that would work for each individual.
It was suggested we read widely on a variety of subjects, fiction, non fiction, see films, go to concerts and the theatre and visit galleries and museums. The idea being, of course, to broaden our horizons, to press buttons that caused us to react or to find delights we had previously not known. I would extend that now with the wisdom of age and suggest that we all need to use our bodies physically, in order to challenge what we believe we have the strength for……
Sunset at Kariba, Zimbabwe.
When sitting in that space of being the therapist I needed to know as much as possible about the world and its occupants. How is it to really feel how you are in that moment and how does that inform your behaviour at any given time? Does it cause you to re-act or can you take a luscious breath in and find a different way of being, even if it is only for that one time?
Red roads of Africa.
There is a lot out there in our world that we find difficult and would like to run from…the idyllic island is so very enticing. The reality for most of us is that we are where we are and cannot run and hide from the dark, drear dismal bits. We do have to manage in the jobs we have and sometimes it really is a struggle to see the bright spaces that are undoubtably there.
And so, I have read all manner of books. When we first lived in Kenya, our town of Meru had The Mount Kenya Bookshop. There were not many books but they were each stamped carefully with the name of the shop and if you bought one it always needed a little dusting to remove the red earth of Africa from it’s covers.
We grabbed at any music that came our way as we had no TV and no radio. It was cassettes or even vinyl in those days and so the choice was limited but we got to memorise the words!
Tsavo Park, the size of Wales!
All these years later I have easy access to books, films and music. We live a short train journey from Manchester with galleries, theatres and lovely places to eat. And I have my yoga practice so that I have my very own sacred space that is My Mat where I can challenge, nurture and learn about me…or simply lie down in savasana and rest.
This post was inspired by the following poem, photocopied many years ago by a friend who wrote on the bottom…’this made me think of you!’ It is about the bright and the dark, the good and the oh so very bad…the yin and yang of life. I know nothing of the woman who wrote it but to share these words and my photographs of Kenya and Zimbabwe may inspire you to see Africa in a slightly different way. They say so much about the land that my husband and I loved so much and still do albeit from a distance
Fishing at Kariba.
Going home one afternoon, some years ago, I walked alongside an African man who asked how I was..we chatted and he told he came from West Africa. On discovering I had lived in east and southern Africa he wanted to know how I had liked living ‘on that side’. It was wonderful and difficult I replied and I shall never forget or regret having lived there. He smiled again and said he wished that people he met in the UK could understand that not all Africa was in a state of war or drought. In fact, his homeland was fertile and his family were healthy and very happy and he looked forward immensely to returning in a few months when his training in the UK was complete.
Have you ever seen a land of such beauty,
Have you ever seen a life with such pain.
The mountains and valleys, coastlines and forests of Africa
where evolution of man began.
No-one has ever been a part of such a history,
the joy and the misery.
I could not think of another place
that was filled with such beauty and grace.
Once you’ve lived in Africa
your heart does not belong to yourself,
it belongs to the land,
the land of Africa,where genesis began.
Kariba, in a boat you can go very close!
Weaver Bird nests.
Shimba Hills, Kenya
Breathe deeply and feel your ribcage expand and then softening, move the breath energy from your heart into every cell of your body. Look around and as Ana Forrest says…’may you all walk in beauty. Aho’