07 Jun Wilderness Wake-Up Call
It’s around noon. There’s a clear blue sky and the sun is beaming down on us. We’re seated on the rock we climbed earlier, looking out over the African landscape in front of us. It’s the fourth day of our wilderness trail in Botswana. There are no facilities; just the clothes we’re wearing, a sleeping bag and mat, two large water bottles, some basic foods and some gear to cook and eat it with. Back to basic got a whole new meaning this week.
The past few days went by in a pleasantly simple and orderly fashion: sun up and breakfast at 6 am, break camp and remove all footprints, fill the water bottles and start our walking itinerary of the day, pause for lunch, walk some more, find a sheltered spot and water source for the night, set up camp, have dinner with meaningful conversations and laughs at the campfire, sun down and bedtime at 7 pm. Next day: pretty much the same, just like the days after that.
As I sit on that rock, I look around. Everyone is quiet, minding his or her own business. All you hear is the sound of nature: the chirping of the crickets, the buzzing of the flies, the wind rustling through the bushes. Suddenly I am struck by an overwhelming feeling of peace and contentment. At that moment it hits me: you don’t need much of anything to be happy! The only things that you have to concern yourself with are having a safe place to stay, eating when you’re hungry and sleeping when you’re tired (you know, all that stuff at the bottom of the Maslow pyramid…). The simplicity of life and the absence of just about anything feel like absolute bliss to me. There’s nothing to distract me from living in the moment, I never felt this mindful before.
Back home I have trouble adjusting to ‘normal’ life. All my possessions suddenly feel like a burden: my home, my mortgage, my administration, my car, my furniture, my clothing, my…stuff. I look around and I see so many things I don’t really need, things I never use (anymore), things I keep ‘just in case’, things I only keep because they were gifts. All that stuff is cluttering my home and – worse – my head. It makes me feel unhappy. Long story short: this adventure ended with a thorough house cleaning. We threw away broken or worn off things. Things in good condition but with no use for us went to a recycle shop or charity, things we knew could make a specific friend or family member happy we gave away to them. I felt lighter with each box that left the house.
In many ways our trip to Botswana was an eye-opener and turning point and probably one of the best things I did for myself in a long time. First of all, I’m more aware of the impact of consumerism on our planet and the importance of eco-friendly resources. I make sure I only buy the things I really love and need and I am happier with the things I keep in my home. I pick collecting moments over things any day of the week now. Also, it fueled my dream to own a secluded log cabin in the mountains one day and it’s been the seed of Hygge Hytte as it exists today.
I had to travel 10.000 miles to finally get it: it’s not about having what you want, but about wanting what you have that makes you happy. Get rid of everything you don’t need and live a more intentional and purposeful life. That’s what I intend to do.
‘Wilderness is not a place. It’s a way of life.’ – Alan McSmith, McSmith Safaris
This is the ‘thank you’-note I wrote to our wilderness guide Alan McSmith after the trail. Beautiful person, elephant whisperer, passionate guide, true wilderness heart. Check out his website and contact him if you’re open to find out what the (South-)African wilderness can teach you. No commercial interest, just sharing this from the heart.