Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Safari Dreaming

"To depart on safaris is not only a physical act, it is also a gesture. You leave behind the worries, the strains, the irriations of life amoung people under pressure, and enter the world of creatures who are pressed into no moulds, but have only to be themselves; bonds loosen, anxiety fades, the mind closes against the world you left behind like a folding sea anemone. Enjoyment of the moment, the true delight in living, in life as it is and not as others in the past have made it, all this returns."


Monday, March 30, 2009


"Stillness is a higher energy state than what we are used to. This is because we are rarely wholehearted, or unconflicted, about anything.'

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ebony And Ivory

"Life has a bright side and a dark side, for the world of relativity is composed of light and shadows."


"A man's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"

Waiting For The Wonderful

"The soul always stands ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience."


"See God opening millions of flowers every day without forcing the buds."
BHAGWAN SHREE RAJNEESH - Dying for Enlightenment


"Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?"


"You have to do it by yourself, by you can't do it alone."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Free Falling

"If I were able to live anew, in the next world I would try to commit more errors. I would not try to be perfect, I would relax more. I would be more foolish than i've been, in fact I would take few things seriously. I would be less hygienic, I would run more risks, take more vacations, contemplate more sunsets, climb more mountains, swim more rivers. I would go more places where i've never been, I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans, I would have more real problems and less imaginary ones. I was one of those who never went anywhere without thermometer, a hot water bottle, an umbrella, and a parachute; if I could live again, I would travel lighter. I was one of those people who lived sensibly and prolifically each minute of his life; Of course I had moments of happiness. If I could go back I would try to have only good moments. Because if you didn't know, of that is life made: only of moments; Don't lose the now."

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Luis Berges
Found inscribed on the wall in Hatari Lodge, Tanzania, Nov 2005

Namibia, its landscape, calls you to smile and participate.

Don't loose the now!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Sound of Silence

Have you ever arrived at a place so quiet that the only thing you can hear are your thoughts?

The Dead Vlei is such a place.

This little valley is hidden away like Frances Burnett's Secret Garden. The difference lies in the 'walls' that surround it. Not irregular grey stones prised apart by ivy and a determined wisteria. Instead the valley is encompassed, in every direction, by high red sand dunes. Some reaching up to 300 metres tall.

This vlei has an interesting Geography.

It is a clay pan which was formed when the Tsauchab River flooded. The water created temporary shallow pools whose fertile silt attracted quirky camel thorn trees which have become so symbolic of Namibia. They grew and prospered.

Then, there was climate change and drought hit the area.

The huge red dunes started to encroach onto the vlei and eventually they blocked the river out completely.

Bit by bit the trees withered and died. What remains is a tree graveyard, believed to be about 900 years old. The hot African sun has scorched them black as they poke out of the ground, The dry heat prevents decomposure and holds them in a time warp.

My first sight of the vlei was from high up on the crest of a sand dune. It looked small and perfectly formed.

We zig-zagged down the dune. The sand was hot as it slipped under my feet. Once down on the floor of the vlei the silence hit me like a wall.

My guide and I parted company. He went to sit on a fallen tree trunk at the entrance to the vlei. I suspected that he had noticed the impact this place was having on me. Such dramatic nature needs no words.

I was at zero as far as sound was concerned.

I strained to hear something.


No background hum of city traffic, no murmur of conversation, no movement, no wind.

Dead Vlei.

I lay my ear to the warm, soft, white sand and held my breath. I thought I might here a tok-toki beetle scrabbling about underground.


The only thing I could hear were my thoughts which, in the silence, were suddenly very loud. It was as if someone had handed me a big black pair of headphones so that they could speak the words out loud to me.

I noticed that they didn't belong.

None of them reflected where I was or who I was.

I twigged how involved I had been in them....

So, I spent an hour alone with this silence and, to my happiness, my diminishing thought patterns.

I felt the texture of the trees, took in the contrasting colours of the sand and looked at the shapes that the dried clay had made on the ground.

There is a strong healing energy to this landscape, the sort that draws you present. This was to be a recurring theme as I travelled around this vast wilderness of red desert and big skies.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Visual Awareness

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844-1889 (God's Grandeur)

When I stumbled over the piece of writing that you are about to read at the bottom of the page, I was sitting in one of the most beautiful safari lodges in Southern Namibia. Deep within the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world, I looked out onto its huge red dunes and flat valley floors which make up the world-famous view of the Namib.

I was numb. I was blocked. My joints felt arthritic in response to a left brain in battering mode.

My common reaction to this state of affaires is to withdraw myself from circulation for however long it takes for the clouds to pass. Sometimes hours, sometimes days. I used to figure this was the kindest thing for everyone! Very used to going into battle alone with my emotions, this had been a learned, conditioned response for as long as I can remember.

But this time around I was on a business trip. I was travelling with a Namibian colleague and we had a busy schedule of safari lodges to visit. So, I was doing the best to put on a brave face, keep up the external persona, with the best smile that I could muster.

This is ok to a degree of course. On one level it keeps you safe, keeps you operating in life. But, on another level it leads to isolation. If followed through time and time again, month after month, year after year, the way that you are experiencing yourself ceases to exist in the eyes of others. (Thank you FM for this inspired phrase)! There is a gulf between the unreality of your internal world (that you buy into as real) and how the world relates to you.

What confusion this can cause (!) and how relieved I was to have found an avenue, in the form of Friday nights at Innergy, to bring the two, very slowly, in increments, together.

In the meantime, back at the ranch, whilst the gap still exists, and when acceptance is, at times, elusive, the questions arise; How do I break the downward spiral? How do I free myself from the block when it occurs?

Often it can be as simple as a kind word, a glance of understanding in the eye of another, a smile, a hug, a yoga class, the touch of an animal's fur, a swim in the sea with the light sparkling off the water or in this particular case......a piece of writing.

Namibia, the land of big skies and raw natural landscape, is full of photographers.

As I read, I felt a resounding YES. I was impressed by the clarity of the words. It said what already lay unsaid in my heart. It allowed me to feel more 'joined'. Something shifted immediately, the blood was back in my cheeks as I connected with 'me' - without the negative, without that pesky veil of maya.

In that moment I was away, charting my relationship to Namibia in the form of images. It gave me a way back to life again from the unreality of a closed fear, (F-E-A-R - False Evidence Appearing Real as they say in the Kabbalah tradition) to the real world of open communication and love. Our natural state.

When 'stuck', communicating and relating are often the two things that I least feel like doing and yet, in my experience, both can bring you a little closer to healing.

This blog is about communicating the soul through images and, as it is my nature, occasionally adding a few words to the pictures too.

In the weeks that follow, technology allowing, Namibia will begin to unfold....I hope you will enjoy.

Om Shanti

Thank you Freeman Patterson for putting these thoughts onto paper..

Visual awareness is not a certain thing. And, when it develops, it often develops slowly, nurtured gradually by a collection of important life experiences. We can no more learn how to see well quickly and easily than a ballerina can learn how to dance well in a few days or weeks. Seeing takes effort, and productive effort takes time. Whether we hope to be photographers, sculptors, painters or to work in any of a range of other visual media, we must turn our serious attention to the craft of design and to the tools and techniques of the particular medium. The discipline of craft necessarily precedes the achievement of art.

Our parents and friends can encourage our desire to see by showing their interest and delight in the varying colours and tones of trees and grasses, dunes and rocks, cars and buildings, birds' wings and brushed silk, a black baby's cheeks and a white octogenarian's hands. Fortunate are the children who receive such a gift. However, this is only the beginning for aspiring visual artists.

Seeing - or blindness - has as much to do with the soul as it does the eyes. It is entirely possible to have perfect vision and to see nothing important. To see well requires looking deeply inside as much as intensely outside. It means opening ourselves up to health and creativity, to the possibility of wholeness. Only then can the very best occur.

If we photograph what we see, we must never forget that the camera lense always looks both ways - at the subject matter and the photographer. Unconsciously as much as consciously we write our own life stories both by what we choose to photograph and how we choose to photograph what we have selected. We do not always need to add words. The pictures are entirely sufficient to tell the world who we are.