First 30 Days Blog

18 jan

The Change Specialist

Jeremiah Hambana is the most rural person I’ve ever met.

We are friends courtesy of the fact that we share eight hours a day in the African bush together. We take visitors that come from all corners of our blue planet out into the wild on sunlit morning and evening excursions. Jeremiah sits in a specially constructed chair on the front of the Land Rover that is placed there so he can spot animal tracks on the ground before I destroy them with our especially hardened tyres. Mostly my job is to avoid driving the car into bushes and interpret everything that he sees and finds for six guests with the latest array of digital photography equipment and a yearning to find iconic animals that have entranced them since their teddy-bear days.

Jeremiah lives about 20 miles from Londolozi, which means “Protector of all Living Things,” a beautiful area of land here in South Africa, where nature, wildlife and people interact harmoniously. He lives in a dusty and poverty-racked area that has its fall from ecological grace rooted in Apartheid. In this village of cattle, goats and other rural commerce, Jeremiah’s three wives and 11 children live off of his industry. He is tipped well for finding the animals that we do.

As a child Jeremiah was a cattle herder with every other boy in his age group. He could recognize each individual footprint of his 50 cows and competition for grazing and water was tight. He was an excellent shepherd he proudly tells me over a beer, and then delves into several amusing stories of how he outwitted his colleagues in the race to keep cattle fat, happy and together.

Ariane has just spent three days with us, and as the sun sets behind the Drakensberg Mountains and the cicada beetles ventriloquy dies to make room for a thousand night noises, we sip on beer and I try and define for Jeremiah what a bio-change optimist is.

It reminds me of a similar conversation we had about genetically modified foods about a week before. Jeremiah’s willingness to learn about western subjects is admirable but more often than not the complexity of our European lifestyles erects a comprehension barrier that neither of us can hurdle.

The conversation turns to the weather and the promise of rain. Jeremiah has a hidden talent for meteorological forecasting. “The rain is coming. The Red-billed Queleas have almost finished nesting,” he announces. I pause to consider this new piece of information that Jeremiah has casually thrown out there and then ask him for an explanation.

Queleas are tiny birds that wheel about our skies in flocks that are thousands strong. Jeremiah assures me that they communally pick a rainless window of about three weeks in which to nest. Given that there are an estimated 1,500 billion of these birds worldwide it might be worth paying attention to what they have to say.
Jeremiah, as a cattle herder, would have feasted remorselessly on the little chicks, roasting them on an open fire, deep in the African bushveld. The rain, with the Queleas and their brood now all airborne and raiding the grasslands for their precious seeds, would then come and wash the discarded stomachs and entrails away.

I love this wisdom that Jeremiah has. Nature has imparted on this friend of mine, some of her best secrets. It is part of the reason that Jeremiah is such a warm and wonderful person, unflappably gentle with everything and with a permanent smile that eminates from deep within his being. His closeness with nature has enabled him to cope with the changes in his life that would have the rest of us in a flat terrifying spin.

But what is this elixir that Jeremiah distills from nature and more importantly how do we get it?

Nature is built on a platform of change and thrives on it. In the wild it is the secret mechanism for renewal. Seasons are all beginnings; birth and death waypoints on the greatest ever merry–go-round.

I am hopelessly in love with trees. In my garden is a towering Cape Ash tree and standing in front of it I try to find a sense for its challenges and the changes it has to cope with. Years of searing heat, frost and the odd drought haven’t stunted it and even the occasional visit by an elephant or a congress of baboons hell bent on bough twisting are welcomed. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself, and even if you argue that a tree doesn’t have the conciousness to dwell on a set back, she wouldn’t even if she could. She, like everything else in nature understands that life is beautiful and gifted to us for enjoyment. Change is fundamental to her growth and that she towers over our house is an indication that she embraces it.

If you feel that you are a victim to change and aren’t adapting with it, go be with nature for a short while. The nearest tree will let you feel a rhythm that’s timeless and new all within the same nanosecond. A grazing herd of impala being stalked by the tawny coats of a pride of lion also holds the savage inevitability of change but endorses it for the greater good.

Visitors to Londolozi are not immune to this same buzz and synch with nature. They often leave with a contentment that they will try and fathom in the bright lights of a bustling metropolis. Quite possibly they’ll come back for another fix at a future date, but whilst we would love them to make a return to Londolozi, truthfully they needn’t travel so far. Take a trip to Central park if you have to—but when you are contemplating or affecting a change in your life—go spend time with the change specialist: nature—and let her strip away your layers of anxiety and uncertainty.

If like Jeremiah you do borrow nature to help you out in times of crisis and change, remember to repay her many kindnesses by making some life choices that help preserve her.

This post was kindly written by Tom Imrie, one of the best game rangers around! Believe me, I experienced many magnificent hours with him. And Jeremiah, well, he asked me to be his 4th wife. I am considering it….

For more inspirational stories from the African bush, please visit here.

Posted by First 30 Days on January 18th, 2010 in Global/Social Change | 18 comments

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    — Added by First 30 Days on January 24th, 2010
  • What an awesome story! I agree, nature tends to bring about a calmness that promotes internal and external healing with anyone who takes advantage of what mother nature has given us. All we have to do is; see with our eyes, touch with our hands, smell with our noses, hear with our ears, taste with our tongues, and open our hearts to enjoy the healing powers offered with our five senses.

    I have had many difficult changes in my life and have learned to enjoy the simple things in life by returning back to mother nature for healing. I remember when I was a young boy my favorite place to be was out in the woods with mother nature. Although, my favorite place quickly changed to the beach when I got my drivers license (imagine why)! Mother nature talks to us and allows us to enjoy what she has provided us with to heal using our five senses. My reason for moving to the South Florida beaches and obtain my “perfect” place to heal, and enjoy the rest of my life:)

    — Added by flbeachboi on January 27th, 2010
  • what a beautiful voice…it is so beautifully written I feel like I experienced this a bit…so thank you for that…there is nothing like that energy and peace and sense of nature that you describe – especially in Africa in my experience – I’ve been to Tanzania but not South Africa…YET…can’t wait to come visit…maybe when Ariane becomes Jeremiah’s 4th wife…

    — Added by eliseb on January 27th, 2010
  • Just reading this post reminded me what peace can be found in nature and how communing with nature truly can help soothe our souls. Thank you to Tom Imrie for sharing it. I’ve always been active in the outdoors and recognized early on that when I was upset by chaos and confusion in my life, I could clear my head and find a way to deal with my issues by escaping outdoors, to sit on the deck of our lake house and look out over the soothing waters, or take a walk down the country road near my grandparents farm. I forget about the beauty and power of nature sometimes in the hustle and bustle of corporate, city life, so thank you again for the happy reminder!

    — Added by shelleybunny on January 27th, 2010
  • How lucky you are. While one wouldn’t need to travel to South Africa to experience the beauty in nature (although I’m sure it’s spectacular!) you would have to wonder does anyone exist as special as Jeremiah? I think experiencing Jeremiah and his way of being would be ultimate. Jeremiah’s beauty is what I took from this lovely blog. Thank you for sharing.

    — Added by Trish0316 on January 27th, 2010
  • Tom-Thank you for sharing so much insight into Nature. I could feel my hurried self slowing down and enjoying the thoughts you shared from South Africa – - and reminding us we can take ourselves to a new or favorite old spot nearby. Looking forward to your next blog…Margaret in California.

    — Added by margselt on January 27th, 2010
  • I want to thank you for sharing. It brought back beautiful memories of visiting my sister who was then living in Lesotho during 1988-1995; very difficult years… I often was moved by the herd boys and wanted to know more of their life as it was aligned with every aspect of nature. There were no shelters at such an early age to be independent and ultimately responsible for self and a fortune of animals..I can only imagine that nature had to become their confidant. The majestic appearance of watching their presence walking faithfully with creatures of earth sits with me and brings both peace and courage. Again thank you for your thoughts.

    — Added by Celeste on January 27th, 2010
  • Thank you for a different perspective of change. At the moment, change is not willingly accepted, but viewing change as nature changing from “winter to spring” provides a different viewpoint.

    — Added by Marylynn on January 28th, 2010
  • Thank you very much for this wonderful insight! Your line: “The nearest tree will let you feel a rhythm that’s timeless and new all within the same nanosecond.” is so true, and so eloquently put! That feeling is what draws me to nature, but I have never been able to express it so beautifully. Thanks! :)

    — Added by olivia4mk on January 28th, 2010
  • Beautifully written. What a lucky man to have found his secret to a peaceful mind experience. I live back in the city now but my first project was to build my garden area. First thing in the mornings and evenings, it is where I can collect my thoughts and feelings of the day. Enjoying the flowers, trees, birds and squirrels along with the peace of the sunrise. Quiet times with nature truly is the secret to a contented mind.

    — Added by twylafw on January 28th, 2010
  • I enjoyed the casual beauty in the writing – very similar style to my brother, who writes about nature in his habitat – Western Pennsylvania. 2 worlds apart – Afica & America – but such similar observations & appreciation. We are united in our humanity!

    — Added by Therese on January 28th, 2010
  • Thank you for sharing this story! To me it is a great articulation of the importance of a healthy Root Chakra, via attention to our connection to Mother Earth/Nature, recognizing and appreciating all the benefit we receive from her, and learning to serve those things we receive benefit from so they’ll still be around to provide us those benefits!

    — Added by weebeast on January 28th, 2010
  • It is refreshing and inspiring to discover that for some, the simple beauty of nature is enough to sustain them. Consumerism doesn’t even rank as an afterthought.

    This post reveals many blessings. Tom, you are undoubtedly blessed with the gift of the written word. Thank you for sharing such a touching story about your friendship with Jeremiah. And he is blessed with a friend who truly appreciates his presence in this lifetime without expecting anything in return.

    Lastly, we are all blessed with the opportunity to visit (via imagination) a country that many of us may never have the fortune of experiencing. As I look out the window and see the snow falling on this bitterly cold Ohio day, I appreciate how important my “mental vacations” are to me.

    — Added by LisaWoods on January 28th, 2010
  • Hi Tom,

    What a wonderful gift Jeremiah shares. I could almost see his contented smile as I read this post. Being in tune with the natural world makes one a peaceful, joyful being. We cannot be otherwise when we are focused on the beauty of our planet, wether it be a beautiful flower or a herd of elephants the awe, appreciation and wonder is the same.

    Someday I hope to visit South Africa and I’d like very much to see a flock of Red Billed Queleas or perhaps a Cape Ash tree will remind me of your story. May you continue to walk lightly on the earth.

    — Added by Turtletyler on January 28th, 2010
  • The Christ often reminded us to watch nature to determine how we should live and Jeremiah seems to have absorbed that wisdom. Christ’s words, from the book of Matthew- “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

    — Added by seeker1114 on January 28th, 2010
  • Thank you, Tom, for the gift of peace and beauty you gave to us with your words.

    — Added by x1xAngelx1x on January 29th, 2010
  • A delightful and often forgotten reminder to engage with and be present to nature, especially during difficult times. Jeremiah and Tim sound like the perfect hosts for interacting with their country’s natural resources. Thank you both.

    — Added by dzucchi on January 30th, 2010
  • Dear Tom,

    Fortunate people like you and Jeremiah, live the way we were intended to live……… as a part of Nature.

    Most of us,due to circumstances/choice…. exist in concrete jungles………….more and more apart from nature.

    The hour I spend walking in the nearby park everyday is the closest I come to establishing a communion with Nature.

    However,to quote my favourite poet John Keats,

    ‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
    But being too happy in thine happiness.”

    I appreciate your positive contribution in not only making this world a better home…but in making time to share your experiences with the rest of us.

    God’s choicest blessings to you, Jeremiah and all your loved ones.

    Thanks a ton to Ariane for making it possible for us to read your wonderful blog.



    — Added by contentedachiever on February 10th, 2010

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