Have you ever wanted something SOOO MUCH, you would do absolutely anything to get it?
To be honest, I've never "felt" a want that great, which is why, I think I've felt lost for most of my life. So when I spoke with Dr. Tammie Matson, Zoologist, Speaker, Entrepreneur and all around Elephant guru; she opened my eyes to understanding that feeling your wants is the basis of life. Her story is truly inspiring and a tribute to living life with amazing feeling.
Tammie's Story starts here:
I was fifteen years old when my father took me on a life-changing safari in Zimbabwe. It changed me forever. The sense of adventure, big animals and indigenous cultures, and above all that raw sense of being truly alive that you get in Africa… Africa captured my heart. I gave up my plans to be a lawyer and decided instead to study zoology.
Can you imagine being in your late teens knowing and wanting to quit law school to become a PhD in Zoology?
Never good in science or math, Tammie's "want" to be in Africa, to be a Zoologist, to feel truly alive was the greater force pushing her on toward her desire.
On the second trip to Africa after the first one on a safari with my dad, I went for 6 months, just after finishing high school. I spent my time in Zim teaching at a local school, volunteering with the locals and feeling for the first time in my life a deep sense of purpose. I was learning their language and completely entrenched in their lives. I knew then, that I wanted to do whatever I could to go back and help the locals, because I got so much back from them. I felt a sense of purpose.
Tackling Reverse Culture Shock
Once back in Australia, Tammie experienced "reverse culture shock." Reverse Culture Shock is the unexpected difficulty of readjusting to your home culture and values after having been away for an significant amount of time. I could relate as I went through the same experience returning to the States after having lived abroad for 11 years. I truly believe when you experience something so profound it not only affects your thoughts, your outlook, but your wants in life too.
To do anything in life, you have to feel the energy to do something. We’re all connected and being in Africa brings you back to our roots reminding us we’re all part of nature. You feel it when you're there because you stop to watch sunsets, the cycles of the moon and witness births and deaths in the Animal Kingdom. Going on safari, no matter what kind, allows you to FEEL and heal.
We are just like the animals, we all need to heal. And we need the space to heal. Time in Africa with the animals allows your mind to disconnect and address whatever you need to address, through nature. Because modern life is so busy and all consuming, you need to disconnect to reconnect.
The Importance of Mindfulness and Elephants
Going on Safari is definitely considered a form of mindfulness. It's so important to be in the moment, to watch and learn from the animals.
Elephants live in a matriarchal society, led by strong female leaders called Matriarchs. The Matriarch is not “given” a leadership role and she is not born into it. She has to earn it through the respect of the other elephants.
Throughout their lives, elephants have to be patient, compassionate and learn to gain respect. Studies have shown that strong matriarchs tend to have certain personality traits including decisiveness, social intelligence, and confidence.
Older female elephants run the show. They know the migration paths and teach the youngsters how to survive and thrive. Older females carry the wisdom of generations and their role is vital to the survival of the herd.
What a wonderful way to understand life. If you believe your life is over at 40 or 50 or 60, think of the elephants, their roles, and how at those ages a new life as leader is just beginning for a female elephant.
It is inspiration for those of us who have gone through life "doing" and "wanting" things - without the feeling to drive us forward in a more true way. I understand now.
Our wants have to come from a place of true, purposeful, feeling to be achieved.
Tammie takes several groups out to Africa every year to learn from the elephants on safari. Visit her safari site at www.matsonridley.com