The storm started blowing in around 4PM today. As usual, first the sound of the wind, then the wall of dust, then the rain, and finally the electricity. Lightning stamps down to the Earth lighting up the sky followed quickly by the crack of thunder. It rolls over sounding like a ton of rocks has been dropped on top of my room. Rain hitting the tin roof echoes under the stoop. I so badly want to find a place in the desert where lightning has struck to see what the Earth looks like – does sand really turn to glass? or is it charred? Perhaps a scouting mission for tomorrow. The build up of the storm throughout the day brought up feelings and thoughts I’ve chewed on until now. It seems cliche to reflect on the past year and I’ve always thought resolutions were silly (why wait for a new calendar year to make changes, why not do it now?). But here I am considering what this year has chalked up to and what I hope the next year holds.
If I could sum up this year in one word, it would be growth. Last year around this time I was in a funk and knew I needed a big change, something wasn’t right. I lost direction and the feeling of purpose. I held on to past wounds thinking that if I did they would make me stronger and more calloused to the less beautiful parts of life. I don’t recall the moment I started looking for an opportunity to change, I guess I was sort of on auto pilot. I didn’t realize how much I needed this until it happened, or as it is happening rather. For the first time in years, I was forced to slow down, stop running, and face the shadows that had been lurking within me. On long walks alone in the desert, I came to terms with them and walked on taller. Literally, I feel like I have grown taller – strange. I’ve been told that I remind people here of the sun, that makes me feel like I am now the person I had gone to find.
Sure, this transition comes with growing pains – I’ve found the sun and I want to chase it. I want to travel the world, sail across the ocean, live in my van, drive to end of the Americas, never stop exploring and discovering, and meet wild, amazing people along the way. But my learning isn’t done yet and I need some more time here to wrestle with thoughts of restlessness and find the balance between chasing and living. I want each moment to count, not be counting down until the next moment. My goal for this next year is to live this way, truly.
Every sunrise and sunset, every day, reminds me to be grateful for that gut feeling I had to make the change. I tipped my life upside down, shook it, saw what stuck, lost a few things, but have gained so much more.
Now for updates from the Kalahari – it’s the stormy season! As if to punctuate thoughts on the new decade, the skies have been opening up and delivering fuel for life. Rain means hard-packed sand roads which means I can zoom around the reserve on the bike after bloods and look for wildlife. Tortoises are cruising around the dunes, foals of wildebeest, hartebeest, and gemsbok buck and kick next to their mothers while chomping on the new green snacks sprouting up, and birds of every color imaginable dot the trees and the sky.
Spirits are high celebrating the holidays and enjoying some down time on the reserve. Some friends and I have used this extra time to start planning our Botswana-Namibia roadtrip for March. I’ve put together a rather ambitious plan and presented it after dinner – here were their reactions (but they’re down to do it!)
Stoked to be welcoming 2020 with these wild friends from around the world.
And to my pals back home, cheers to the new year and here’s to more adventures together in the future 😉
Only the Wild Ones – Dispatch