In the casual chat-stream of social gatherings, stories of wandering the wilderness, simply for the sake of wandering, has little “catch” – too slow, no punchline, whatever… So, they are best held back for another time and another place. But on rare occasions, when a story would stray into the conversation, someone might pay enough attention to ask, “but why do you do this?” It has always left me self-conscious and at a loss of how to answer in a way that I thought would make them really understand.
But when I look at this simple snap, I know that I shouldn’t try. I should simply ask: What can beat heading out into the untouched African bushland, with no destination other than its mysteries, its wonders, its surprises, its ever-present whiff of danger?
Some would turn away as if they had not heard; others would look perplexed, as if it was about a subject far removed from them, like rumours about a failed election in some banana state. But a few would have a light of quiet understanding come into their eyes. To them I could say, it infiltrates your bones, the marrow inside; it captures the senses, sharpens them till they are like lasers, searching for smells and sounds and shapes; it silences; it humbles; it opens up; it totally immerses.