At the time I remember being so overwhelmed by the paradox that is the Kalahari environment. The landscape is harsh, stark but utterly beautiful. This place is so Wild and so still it catches your breath. I cannot find the words to describe the changing light and colour with each new day and the changing of the seasons. The Kgalagadi stole my heart. Every day held some new encounter with Wildlife large and small, iconic and almost unheard of. On some level I still can’t grasp the fact that I got to experience this sort of Mother Earth magic. It made my Soul sing.
A few Kgalagadi moments…
It wasn’t all wonderful. Some days were difficult coming to terms with the extremes – isolation, heat, cold, poverty. I was given a sharp, life-altering shift in perspective on my privilege.
I fell in love with the people of this Space too. I learned so much about our shared humanity, especially from meeting members of the ‡Khomani San and Mier communities and hearing their stories.
Looking back on it now, I realise what a profound effect this time and especially this Space had on my life. So many of those faces are still close in my memory.
It is a great comfort that a community project I was only on the periphery of, which was just beginning, has come so far in the last thirteen years. Use this link to read more about the !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park.
Back to Pure Spaces. At the time it was the women of the Kgalagadi whose stories so resonated with me. I had a vague idea that I wanted to “voice” these stories somehow – the extraordinary voices of ordinary women. While this didn’t ever eventuate as planned, in hindsight it was the spark of an idea that made me start writing again.
I wrote a lot as a child. Journaling, poetry and little stories mostly. Unfortunately, my awkward teenage-self did not like any of this and so I’ve ditched them all. I only kept one of my stories from childhood.
Fast forward to 2011 and the universe sent me on a journey to another Space that would overwhelm me with its bittersweetness. I spent a few years in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. This time I worked in ecotourism.
The Okavango is a world apart. Like nothing I have encountered. Again, my Soul sang. Again, I lost my heart to Mother Earth magic. There is a different purity here, a different rhythm to the seasons compared with the Kgalagadi. The seasonal ebb and flow of the floodwaters is what Life tunes into here. Again, I want to describe light and colour changing but just cannot find the words. Again, Wildlife encounters I have to pinch myself to believe really happened to me – an almost daily Dream Safari.
And again, I fell in love with the people of the Okavango, totally mesmerised by how in tune with Nature they are. Their lyrical tones as they shared their stories and wisdom of generations at one with the Delta’s rhythms.
This Space too had its challenges. Some social ills that at times threatened to engulf me in grief. In the Okavango I learned about paradox. I learned about unconditional love. I learned that the sweet always comes with the bitter and vice versa. I learned that we cannot have it any other way or we would never grow. It is the Nature of existence.
Some Okavango magic…
When I came home from Botswana I was rather battered and bruised from a personal upheaval. I was utterly changed. But the most authentic Me I had ever been. In my healing I began to write again in earnest.
Then the nudge to put my voice “out there” in some way. So I started a blog, simply reflecting on life and living. I don’t know where the energy came from or the permission to feel that vulnerable. But I kept at it. I called my blog Pure Spaces in the beginning. But an evolution has begun.
Over the past few years, I have begun to notice how a sense of personal wellbeing, feeling grounded and authentic in my internal world can inspire my decisions and actions externally. The decisions I make and the actions I take for living on this earth and living with other beings. Awareness within leads to Awareness without. Does that make any sense to you? I certainly hope it does. Welcome to Pure Spaces Education.
Pure Spaces is grounded in these Values…
In the wild and untamed Places I have mentioned there is a Purity. An untarnished or untouched quality I can’t quite put my finger on, except to say that you know you are the Sojourner in such a Space. Even now when we seem to have put our human stamp on so much of the planet, there are these pockets of Nature that look you in the heart and say ‘we were here before you and we will survive you’.
I learned from these Spaces my Place in the world. I learned from these Spaces how I want to Be in the world. I learned from these Spaces just how significant Places and Spaces are to me.
Why am I sharing this? I am hoping by laying out a little of my personal journey it will give some context to the Big Dream now at play for me. These shaping experiences have been the push along a challenging road to add my Voice to a larger Conservation Collective – a collective of “voices” (individuals, communities, groups, organisations) making themselves heard for the good of the planet. The planet, of course, includes all of Us.
No longer can we separate humanity and environment. We are all part of the same Story.