I wrote this in memory of the hidden spirit that lives in all things. When I have clients or run private or corporate trainings, I always need a little ‘luck’ or coincidence to make the magic happen. This you could call spirit, although that word has other ‘fluffy’ connotations that I don’t like sometimes.
So the story underneath is in honour of that unseen essence that seems to be the presider in whether we get succesful or not.
I arrived at River Edge, a secluded cottage, built for folk who want to get away from city life and experience river, stream, birds and trees.
My cottage is the furthest from the road, a mixture of stone, bricks, concrete and wood. It has a tin roof, which doesn’t echoes raindrops as they rarely fall in the months this house-island is occupied.
My eyes a little sand blown on arrival, yet are quickly drawn to the water on front of my wooden ‘stoop’ of the house. “Would there be fish to catch?”, my hidden voice asked the listening surroundings. Nature answered, combining the silence of surviving the heat of the day, with providing what’s needed for people here, “Yes”.
As men love to do, throwing superfluous luggage, fridge food, clothes and utensils to one side – I grabbed a rod and threw out a line as quickly as hands and thumbs would allow.
After a fair while, it seemed obvious that the fish here didn’t have resect for my ‘style’ that hooked many a wise elder in my homeland.
After a time that spoke to me in burning skin and a wondering mind, I knew I had to explore the environment that my feet had not yet made a proper introduction to.
I doused my excitement of being here with footsteps that could act as a knock at the door of the spirit of the river. Each step in the burning sand further up the river seemed to keep me in stead of an entrance fee required.
Eventually, I found a spot, ten metres high up on the bank – looking down at serene dark figures, ice skating on the river bed below me. Wondering how I would manage such a catch from a lofty height with bushes, trees, rocks and fortune in-between, I quickly dismissed traitorous thoughts for the love of the moment.
Casting to a ‘clip’ of the river plants below, I hid myself, becoming a still rock or maybe tree that does bend with the wind occasionally. Flies and wasps, bees and frogs agreed I was part of this plan.
It wasn’t long before the ‘zip’ of my fishing reel announced my success. Then my once traitorous thoughts became alive as the once graceful dancer of the river bed became a torpedo of explosive power and shot off towards freedom. This was no minnow. Now my thinking and expression of choice was put into gear, alongside my screaming reel. The spirit of the river spoke. “To get your prize, you’ll have to buy a ticket. But I’m afraid money doesn’t work here, you’ll have to become part of the surroundings to gain entry to this style of lottery.”
It became clear I’d have to traverse down the tricky banks, into the Narnia’s water wardrobe below. As I clambered and tripped downwards, my shorts reminded me that I had a wallet in one pocket, still a passport in another and my Iphone in one more front pocket. More or less my whole identity in a foreign land! The shorts had to go – and I wasn’t wearing anything else that day, shirt had been deemed unnecessary and any other items had not been attired.
The falling sandbank driven body, now overtaking the discarded shorts – being pulled by the Judas of the river, plunged into an unknown watery future. At this point, my alarm eyes were signalling that my passport had fallen from the tumbling shorts above me and faithful IPhone trying to break loose as well. And now the spirit of the river was testing me. “Do you want this experience more than your known habitual identity?” The answer was in my hands as I focused back onto the water and both feet touched the doormat of another territory.
Now this funny human being, completely naked in the wilds of southern Africa – with identity possibly lost in the sand and water, became an equal to the moment. I was a hunter – yet I had become the hunted; hunted by the spirit of the river and enticed into the risk and flow of how it all works here.
Time and space had disappeared, perhaps my wallet too, yet the clock face was now in this river and minute hand was just movement through the context.
The reward was duly given, and the payment received. A Carp, an alien species to South Africa – just like me: Then taken in adoring hands and lovingly given back to the shimmering possibility of the whispering waters.
When you want to meet with someone or something, one or both of you may have to have a little pain, be vulnerable and risk your old identity in some way – yet the spirit of life will always ask you to give something up to get something new – and then it’s a choice.