Our time with the Bushmen in the Kalahari was short. But its impact eternal. We’re well aware that their lives are not as they used to be, that they’ve had to make compromises to adapt to the inevitability of progress, but their beliefs, their inimitable knowledge and wisdom, and their notion of the art of living remains.
The team at Unchartered Africa‘s Camp Kalahari, where we were staying, work closely with one particular group of the Ju/’Hoansi Bushmen tribe, enabling curious souls such as ourselves to spend time with the descendants of one of Africa’s earliest tribes.
What they taught us in that short morning I need to put down in words. I need to have them to turn to when I need answers, reminders, and to refer loved ones to when they need guidance of their own. So here they are, five lessons of life, from one tribe to another…
1. I can find joy in little things. I do not need brights lights and shiny things, only butterflies and their coloured wings. Renzi always reminds me of this too, when he raises his binocular-hands to his eyes and spies out something small and wonderful that I might have missed… like a scorpion.
2. I don’t have to do everything by myself. I have my own immediate tribe to support me while I try to support them but I am also a part of the greater tribe of humanity that surrounds me. I can walk with them when I need to. And remember that they may need me to walk with them even when I don’t.
3. I can make do with less. I can spend less on things I don’t need and find a way to reuse, recycle and create more of what I do need. The earth provides much of what we need, if only we know where and how to look. I can educate myself more about the wheres and hows and I can put it into practice.
4. I can take time out when I need it, when my body whispers to me, before it needs to shout, to ask for a break. Rest is as much a part of life as work and play, eating and drinking. I can think more and do less even when something inside me stirs guilt for doing so. I can feel ease, without shame.
5. I can let my wrinkles show. And I can be happy for them, proud of them, grateful for them, for the many life experiences and adventures they symbolise, for the infinite smiles the world has put on my face and left there, to remind me, remind me to laugh, remind me of the times I have cried. I can allow my wrinkles as I allow them on others.