Mafia Island, Tanzania....
and decades behind developed civilizations,
it's filled with colorful village,
after welcoming village,
after vibrantly thriving village,
after wholehearted acceptance village.
Throughout my time there,
I was blessed to experience these very villages and their inhabitants first hand.
‘It is a rare and beautiful quality to feel truly happy when others are happy. When someone rejoices in our happiness, we are flooded with respect and gratitude for their appreciation. When we take delight in the happiness of another, when we genuinely rejoice at their prosperity, success or good fortune, rather than begrudging it in any way. Unlike a state of mere excitement or giddiness, the quality of sympathetic joy challenges our deeper assumptions about aloneness, lose and happiness and shows us another possibility.’
There were those mornings,
those mornings when our company driver, Poteza
needs to go into town to pick up the daily supplies of fruits and veggies for the lodge.
After our heads bobbed around like little bottle-head figurines
due to the uneven dirt road,
we made a quick right turn through a “short-cut”
and swiftly parked in front of Mr. Kabila’s shop.
After jumping out of the car,
I looked left to see a smaller sakoni (shop)
that immediately started screaming at me from the corner of my eye
with it’s vibrant yellow bananas swaying in the breeze,
it’s lush red tomatoes stacked on the table
and the blue colored tin holding the front display in place.
I can’t help, couldn't help but capture it’s offering.
On the weekends,
Dan enjoyed an afternoon kite surf along the waters making up that of our backyard.
When I would come back from teaching,
I would grab my lunch and take it down on the beach.
As I ate,
the local children would begin to gather to watch Dan,
take photos with me
and share my lunch.
On this very day,
one of our guests staying at Magemani turned to me and said,
“Are you going to miss this when you leave?”
The answer to that,
the answer, is,
I am going to miss it immensely.
And on one of those same days as mentioned before
when Dan went kite surfing in the waters just below our house,
maybe even the same day….
As Dan landed his kite on the sand to clean and pack away,
the kids quickly looked at me,
looked over at Dan
and then ran underneath the kite.
With huge smiles on their faces,
they starting touching it,
feeling the air inside,
jumping around then stopping to pose
all the while looking so unbelievably happy.
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, creating ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance which kills countless ideas and endless plans. That, the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events from the decision, raising in ones favor, all manor of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, BEGIN IT. Boldness has genius, power AND magic in it!"
this very man,
resides in Utende village.
. Each day,
he begins anew,
progressing as an artist,
the artist on Mafia Island.
This very painting,
one of my favorite.
believe it or not,
camera in hand,
very few time capsules are created.
It does happen,
as the power of the moment,
overcomes the very act of capturing that moment.
Here, curious youth that call Utende village their home,
caught my attention as they saw me just ahead in the distance.
They yelled, “picha, picha”
meaning my camera was visible
and wanted their picture taken.
I happily turned around,
and then highlighted that moment
when the curiosity of the youth
met the passion of my eye.
Just after taking this image,
I showed them, they giggled,
I smiled and said thank you and life continued.
There are moments,
or you might know them,
where life is happening around you,
people are laughing,
engaging in conversations,
and your sitting alone,
a chosen aloneness.
This aloneness has occurred
because of the immediate desire to indulge
in the presence of nature just beyond my toes.
this very morning,
my memorization began
and continued to unfold
as a played with the moving water below my feet
creating designs with my toes,
watching the water dance as it sprinkled it’s magic just slightly above the waterline.
Another one of those evening walks,
it brought about such a happiness,
a subtle inquisitive happiness.
that in which I was intrigued in,
were the building,
the simple structures,
making up that of the houses,
and those places for relaxation.
Although, physically exploring the structures making up the little village of #Kiganboni,
each step brought about an internal exploration,
that of the structure,
the landscape inside me.
Life is simple on the island,
the necessities are there,
but the wants,
And with this,
my internal exploration kept me questioning the differences between needs and wants.
Which of the two are most important?
Which of them, can I live without?
And, are those needs really needs or just glorified wants?
And, are our wants, part of these same necessities?
And, is that which is needed, or felt is needed, really needed to keep a feeling of satisfaction?
These are just a few of the questions I continue to ask myself as I'm back in a society,
with options, abundant options, infinite possibilities.
I invite you to ask yourself.
What are your needs? Your wants? Can they be separated? And what of these can you live without?
Those moments of having to say good-bye.
To say I'll see you again.
They happen sooner than desirable.
After being in Mafia Island for the second time,
this time for six months.
Saying good-bye, well,
it was difficult,
but, more joyous than anything.
Instead of focusing on the idea of not seeing my new friends and family,
I kept in mind the very reality of now having these very friends and family members in this magical space,
this space that is now another home.
shedding light on the friendships that were developed a year and a half prior
and really brightening them into life long friendships filled with open doors and invitations.
Seeing their smiling faces in these images,
brings a smiling face to the present.
I am truly thankful.
"Our eyes, ears, hearts, half-half smiles and breathing are wonderful phenomena. We only need to open our eyes and we can see the blue sky, the white clouds, the rose,the clean river, the golden fields of wheat, the shining eyes of a child. We only have to attune our ears to hear the whispering pines and waves washing up on the shore. In us and around us, there are so many wondrous phenomena. In nature which can research and heal us."
While living here,
the coconut and palm trees were in abundance.
I noticed something new about their uniqueness,
their ability to produce sweet fruits,
provide shade for locals
and climbing adventures for those of all ages.
I took note,
to truly experience the nature that made up my surroundings.
I connected to the self,
to the vital sensory experiences,
of being in the world, this world,
Dan, Dan and his coconut tree.
Just walking distance from our home,
was a lovely little coconut tree.
just perfect distance from the ground to the nearest coconuts.
when was just right,
Dan and I would take a photo and coconut adventure with the destination,
than this tree.
on the mornings,
when we were feeling most lucky,
there would be a sweet coconut,
ready for us to crack open and slowly drink!
Our kittens, our kittens, our family of kittens.
Little Lady (proud mama), Thumper, Toby and Max.
Let me tell you a little something about this incredible cat and her kittens.
Here it goes...
Upon moving into our home, well, actually beach hut of a home at#Magemani,
we were greeted by a lovely white cat (not pictured here).
Dan worked his magic with some biltong and shortly, thereafter, she became our cat -
eating dinners with us, having a bed on our extra couch, sharing Dan's fish, getting lots of love, hugs and cuddles.
A little less than a month after spending time with our, "Little Lady,"
she presented us with some gifts...
but three kittens.
One rainy afternoon she brought them one-by-one,
being sure to give us time to fully grasp this reality.
At the time, the kittens had to be no older than three or four weeks old.
The only option,
was, of course,
to take care of them;
to help her raise them,
to bring them into our home.
For three beautiful months,
we helped and watched these little kittens grow into mischievous teenagers -
running around camp, playing with any hanging piece of rope,
following their mother while chasing her tail,
of course sharing our food.
And ultimately, ultimately, bringing such a light- heartedness and happiness into our home, into this camp.
Dan and I spent so many afternoons marveling at their mischievous beauty, innocence and unconditional love. Unfortunately, while we were in#Kenya, our kittens were evicted from our home.
Without any notice, they we gone.
We received word just after getting back into #Tanzania.
Initially: hurt, broken, shattered, angry, resentful, confused.
But, eventually, this situation shone down as one of the biggest learning experiences in some time.
What did it teach me?
To love, to love unconditionally.
To accept, to accept all that comes into your path.
To take others into your home, when they most need a home.
To believe in the power of animals, of these little creatures, as a source, a source of the light-heartedness, happiness.
To listen to your gust feeling.
And that good-byes. Having that closure, having that closure.
Although so much wanted, what I think is needed, is not always going to be the case. A possibility.
And to love, love some more and even more.
And to forgive and move forward.
Because ultimately, although it may be one of the hardest breaths you've taken in some time,
you will be a better person for taking a deep breath and moving forward.
And that, tomorrow is a new day and you are a new you.
Cheers to experiences!