We all aspire to do better for ourselves, for each other and for the planet. Along the way, we encounter lessons and inspiration from people, places and experiences.
Who or what are your influencers? Who, where or what have been influential in shaping your choices and direction?
For me, Africa’s people, places, and animals have been powerful teachers, influencing my life in profound ways.
This year marks the 30th year anniversary when I first traveled to Africa on assignment for a modeling job fulfilling a life-long dream to visit the continent I knew only from following Jane Goodall’s work, and watching Tarzan. Little did I know how much Africa would get into my soul, tug at my heart, and inform my life choices and life-style. Thirty years of traveling to eleven African countries, living in one (South Africa) for 3 1/2 years, and leading safaris for clients (such as Jane Goodall), has encouraged me to make choices not common in my American culture, and to notice things in ways I wouldn’t have without my African experiences.
13 life lessons learned from 30 years of traveling to eleven African Countries
1. We need much less than we have.
Many of my close friends in Africa are the most joyful people I know although they have access to a fraction of what most of us in America take for granted.
2. Water is a limited resource.
We need to use it wisely and sparingly.
3. Complete silence like one finds in the African bush feeds the soul.
4. Homelessness is unnecessary.
People in Africa take care of each other. They adopt and take care of orphans – no questions asked.
5. Wild life and wild places enrich our spirit in irreplaceable ways.
6. Almost anything can be recycled and or reused.
7. Creativity is innate and shows up in the least expected situations.
8. Wild animals learn to respond to humans with fear or curiosity.
It depends on our behavior and treatment of them.
9. People can co-exist with predators.
We don’t need to kill off every mountain lion, wolf and bear in regions of the US for our own safety.
10. Anything can, and should be, celebrated.
Africans dance and sing when they plant rice, when they harvest rice and then again when they eat the rice. They dance and sing for weddings, births, engagements, deaths, someone leaving and someone coming.
Celebrating life anytime, and anyway you can, is a wonderful thing.
11. There is always time.
No one should be in a rush. “I have to go,” are four words that are overused in the American language.
12. The word ‘alone’ doesn’t exist in most African tribal languages.
We are an isolated, and isolating, culture. We live far from our families, hardly know our neighbors, and keep so busy we don’t have quality time for friends and family.
13. Gratefulness is a powerful state of mind.
In her latest book, Christine Carter writes “the happiest people are also the most grateful”. Africans are the most grateful people I have ever met.
Some of my lessons came from spending time in the African bush. Others, from the people I met, worked with, and helped along the way – the Kahlahari Bushmen, the Masai and Samburu and Venda people, the village children, the wildlife guides, school teachers and students – and for all of it, I am supremely grateful.
*Recycle and creativity photos taken from ‘Africa, this is why I live here’ FaceBook’s Page.