I’ve been feeling as if my life lacks direction for some months now and have been on an inner exploration to find some answers. I’ve been feeling as if I really just want to stay at home, surrounded by the familiar, nesting and feeling safe.
In contrast, my husband, who loves to travel to out of the way places, (he also has a love affair with his car) had planned a five day trip to Lesotho specifically to drive up Sani Pass. This trip had been planned at the beginning of the year and at the time I said it sounded great.
As our departure date drew nearer the prospect of undertaking a relatively arduous journey in a short space of time didn’t appeal. I toyed with the idea of not going but eventually decided to put on my big girl pants and just do it.
The five days away felt like months in terms of the change in my perspective regarding all aspects of myself and my life. I would attribute much of it to the rarified air at almost 2900m above sea level but things started changing almost as soon as we left home so that wasn’t it.
I realised that when you change your surroundings, move into the unfamiliar, especially when it allows for many hours of introspection – such as you get driving through beautiful scenery with few signs of human habitation – something shifts inside.
The comforts of home provide security but also distraction. There’s always something that can be done – cooking, cleaning, playing with pets, watching TV, reading.
I get car sick if I read while travelling so apart from conversation with my spouse, long comfortable silences and shifting scenery left a lot of room for thinking. Not even thinking in the analytical sense but actually just being – watching the world go by. A large part of the journey was in unfamiliar territory for me.
‘It’s the journey that matters, not the destination,’ is a cliche that I’ve always brushed aside. I’ve always been a ‘destination’ person. It’s all about getting there right? Doing things in the world, making a difference, achieving things. That’s what matters not so?
I realised on this journey that my need to get to the destination is associated with anxiety about not having control. When I get to the planned destination, I have a sense of control, achievement and satisfaction.
For the first time ever I managed to appreciate the journey. I set an intention to just ‘go with the flow’. I didn’t have any expectations about how long each stage of the journey was going to be or what things would be like at the end of each stage. I allowed myself to be surprised and to be patient in waiting to see what unfolds.
During our two days at Sani, I was amazed to find that I could actually sit on a rock, connected to the majesty of the mountains around me and just gaze into space for more than an hour – not meditating, not really thinking too much, not reading or learning any new facts. Merely sitting quietly with myself, connected to my surroundings and connected to me, the essence of who I am. Feeling the cold wind on my face, the texture of the rock beneath me, watching the other tourists come and go, feeling connected to everyone and everything.
Having no expectations and allowing things to unfold rather than trying to control them was challenging at times but so worth it.
We left Sani Village at around eight thirty on a bright Tuesday morning and set off for the tiny village of Rhodes in the eastern cape highlands. In order to get to Rhodes, we had to travel through Pot’s Pass and Naude’s Neck Pass. The road was gravel and long; the pass itself hemmed in by beautiful mountains. It was an overcast day and the tops of the mountains were shrouded in mist. As we climbed higher and higher, being jostled and rattling along, it seemed that we were climbing into the clouds. This part of the journey started after we’d already driven two hours down the gravel road Sani Pass and another four hours on tar. I had no idea how long this pass was or how long it was expected to take to traverse it.
I was about to become negative about the bumpy ride at the end of an already long journey when I set an intention to allow myself to see what unfolds, to be surprised. And boy was it worth it! We got the top of the pass just as the sun was beginning to set. The light was perfect for photography and we were awestruck by the beauty all around us. Instead of being tired after the long journey to the top, we were both energised and enthused when we finally got back into the car and set off on the final leg down the pass.
After another hour and half with night falling we finally arrived at our bungalow on a farm outside Rhodes. We couldn’t see much of our surroundings but the bungalow was nestled into the side of a mountain and we could hear the rushing of a river in the valley below.
We were tired and ‘saddle sore’ from the long drive but the site of the starts hanging from the night sky like clusters of diamonds was awe inspiring. Another wonderful gift that I hadn’t anticipated. In fact, I’d expected to see wonderful night skies in Sani but the moon had only just started waning and the area where we were staying was fairly well lit so the stars were a disappointment. I wasn’t expecting glorious night skies in Rhodes and there they were anyway.
I realised that I can live my life in the same way I approached this trip. No attachment to the outcome, enjoying the journey and allowing it to unfold as it does, trusting that whatever happens is exactly as it should be and seeing each destination as another stepping stone getting my closer to the ‘home’ of who I really am.