Island Blog – Needs, Things and Each Other

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what I need, what I think I need and what I don’t actually need at all. What I need is one thing and what I think I need quite another. What I need is what we all need, love, community, friendship, social encounters, a roof over our heads, food for our bellies, heat to warm us on cold days and nights. We need a bed to sleep in, a pan to cook with, a plate to eat off. And so on.

The second need is the one ‘I think’ I need and thoughts, as we all know, can be fickle friends. As I dash to re-purchase this thing online, or jot that one down on a shopping list, I pause to question myself. Could I manage without this thing? Do I really need to Subscribe and Save on mascara for instance or Evening Primrose oil or Dog chews? Could I find, perhaps, an alternative once the one I have turns solid or runs out or better, learn to live without it at all? The answers are all in the affirmative (although stepping out without mascara is a scary thought) so I make myself wait a while in order to stop my knee jerking. The absolute necessity of most ‘things’ fade into mist eventually. It is astonishing how very much I can easily do without and, I notice, these apparent needs that caused me momentary panic not so long ago, are always just things. After all I never need to write down, Call this child of mine, remember a birthday, send a card or letter or email of encouragement. I never forget the not things in my life. But in the realm of things lie all the troubles. Things need us too much, and not the other way around. They matter disproportionately, our material needs, the number of ‘Likes’ we get on Facebook, for example or the followers on Instagram and so on.

But it is people who matter, not things, never things. Rich or poor, surrounded by ‘things’ or without them we have a choice when it comes to sharing ourselves, our light, our conversation and our interest in each other. All the not things worth everything cost absolutely nothing, not a penny, not a sou. So next time you are assailed by a sudden need for a thing, even to the point of complete panic, breathe out that breath, blow it away and with it all the nonsense thought-chatter because inside that huge brain of yours lie a million neural pathways, each one leading somewhere you may never have travelled before. And, given enough quiet breathing in and out, enough space created between the apparent need and that sweet but infuriating voice of inner intelligence, you may well discover, as have I, that whatever promised to make life perfect is a liar.

The issue of what I actually don’t need at all lies entirely inside my own head. Now that I have learned to stop and to question the knee jerk, the have-to-have thing, I am laughed at how faithfully I have responded to date. I was a sheep, in truth, following the flock even if each one ahead of me fell off the cliff. How ridiculous! But once aware, always aware and I am busy awareing, particularly so since the hacking when access to any purchase slammed a door in my face, when this hacker infiltrated my social media, broke down the very walls within which I had felt completely safe. It is freeing. I can feel myself rising from sheep into intelligent woman and it’s not a new feeling. Each time I have noticed my fall into mindlessness, in whatever area of my life, the thoughtless following behind the others, it has laughed me. Good lord, what the heck am I doing, or, more likely, not doing? I think we can all be mindless at certain times in our lives when we find our ship foundering on the rocks of trouble, when the walls fall down and we stand naked in the wind and rain. In desperation we try to grab hold of all we held so dear, all that, we thought, kept our walls firmly around us. And although we might blame the ‘hacker’ initially, we can be honest with ourselves. We needed this rock-founder in order to think as an intelligent being, to reconsider the way we are living our life. But we are normal, we are human and all of us want our life to continue just as it did before. However, Life never goes back, only forwards and if we can accept this, embrace Change in her attending discomfiture, then we are the ones who are truly alive. We are adventurers, we are brave, we are mindful beings in a mindless world.

So let the stop stop you. Let time go by and ask yourself, as I asked my own self, What is really lacking here? Is it the thing I feel I cannot live without or am I just lonely, unfulfilled, frustrated, angry, sad? When a person has the courage to ask those questions, the patience to wait for an answer and the trust to address the real issue, a way will show itself. Not the old way but a strange new way on a road heretofore untravelled, at least by us. On this road, this path there is laughter. On this path everyone makes mistakes, founders and falls down but all around are those to lift, to encourage, to make you laugh, to hold you up until you once more find your footing because all around you are others who know, have learned themselves, that what we all really need is each other.

Island Blog – Spring into Winter

Tomorrow I leave African Hothot, traversing space and time over 24 hours, to land in what sounds like an icebox. En route I will meet, without meeting, thousands of other travellers going back the way I came or on to lands I may never see for myself. Many, like me, will be confused about what to wear during our journeys, knowing that what lies ahead of us is drastic change. I find change is often like that, but that’s another blog altogether.

I will miss the sound of inexhaustible cicadas and frogs. I will not miss the mosquitos. I will find myself listening for the lite bytes of sound across the bush from maids and gardeners I cannot see, who josh and laugh with each other all day long as they go about their work. I see them delivered and collected, standing together on the bed of a truck, butterfly coloured, their teeth white dazzlers in the sunlight. They look but never wave unless we do first, at which point they leap into action and we feel like famous people. Always friendly, always smiling, always generous, proud of their work, with a strong faith and a strong community, these Africans could teach us all a thing or two about how to be an effective human.

In the local town when buying food or cogs for machines or plastic grommets for piping, some folk recognised me, as I did them. Two months of exposure does that. I will miss the crazy drivers and the dirt tracks in game reserves; a sudden 6 metre giraffe by the roadside or a baboon family under a shade tree, invariably scratching. The jacaranda, coral, frangipane and other wildly coloured up trees will be just brilliant memories as I wing my way into winter. And Spring, back home, will come again. The dead time is Nature’s rest and she needs it as we all do. Unlike many, I love the winter as I love the sunshine warmth. Winter is a time for reflection and reading by the fireside, for bracing walks, long johns and hot buttered toast.

And Christmas is coming……