Once you have liberated yourself from the roads, and finally also from the uncertain little tracks that you might have found meandering through the bush to isolated clusters of huts where a few bush people huddle together for some human fellowship, you are truly like Alice, alone in Wonderland and…
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Mercifully it will be quiet around you. And by that time, you yourself will be quiet, bewitched by the bush Spirits; open to what will be revealed and ready to listen to what the Voices tell you.
I have never had the privilege in the African bush of meeting the Cheshire Cat, but a conversation like in the pic with my African companions about which direction we should take have always delivered equally lyrical wisdom.
Here’s an extract from Paths of the Tracker (https://www.hoffmantheronvanzijl.com/books/paths-of-the-tracker/) where Henry digresses from his story about the pursuit of a rogue elephant bull:
Henry rasped his palm over his jaw, pulling his face into an expression of mild perplexity. “I really had no idea of what I wanted to do after I left the Legion. I sort of thought that being completely cut loose would force me to make some hard choices for my future. It was a bit pathetic, I guess,” he said with a bemused chuckle.
“Anyway,” he snapped himself out of his detour, “I just sort of eased into drifting through the bush. More or less south through Africa. I finally ended up here. After…, almost a year. It became my home, in a way. Not one spot; the whole area from Lake Niassa to the Indian Ocean. It was so remote that the civil war didn’t really reach here. Much less any official government representation. I could wander around without any of those irritations. It was actually working well. Too well. It became a comfort zone. Didn’t really have to think about the future. Just the now. Tomorrow would look after itself. And there was always the chance of something interesting happening any moment. Some adventure. Surviving in the bush keeps one busy, and now and then I tapped into those, shall we say,” and his expression turned a little salacious, “ethereal tentacles of illicit commerce that snake through the bush from one secretive contact to the next, to sell a bit of panned gold or ivory for the few dollars I needed to keep me just a half-notch above bare survival,” he dramatized wide-eyed.
He stopped, seemingly lost in a rich world of memories. Craig sat mesmerised, straining to imagine the frame of mind that would allow such a lifestyle. But then Henry leaned forward, clearly making an effort to focus on the story.
“Sorry, I was digressing. The point is I didn’t really have anywhere to go in any hurry, so I agreed to accompany them to the village. I thought to mount an expedition to find and kill the rogue bull.”
Beautiful and beautifully appropriate Ada
Reminding me of what I once read. A quote by Pieter Pieterse (if I remember correctly): Soms het ons die ompaaie nodig om by ons bestemming uit te kom. (not verbatim)