By JESS TYRRELL
Matric Wild Chill Out 2015 – Mountains as Teachers
It’s hard to articulate what actually happened to us in the Cederberg. And even harder for me to put my own personal experiences on paper. Perhaps because there were so many parts of me involved and invested in this journey, and that each of these parts were touched so profoundly. It is also something about it being a numinous experience, that often cannot be put into words, but only felt.
I believe we become what our experiences provide – that’s our human nature. When we live, exposed only to a human-created life – cityscapes, four walls, electrical lights, monitors and human affairs, we are deprived of other bonds that we have evolved to make.
The human race has become who we are by living outdoors for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of years. And due to this, nature is an essential nutrient to the health of each one of us. Through exposure to wilderness and wildness we redevelop these bonds and the understanding of who we are in relation to all of life.
Over our five days in the Cederberg I noticed that a tribal bond was formed between two boys from a Johannesburg children’s home, three young people from the Cape Flats, and others from KZN, Jo’burg, East London and Cape Town. And us as guides. This amazing diversity of people encouraged conversations about white privilege, the future of our country, our roles to play in shaping a more sustainable world, and the beauty that we were walking in, to emerge spontaneously. It was a profound lesson for me as a guide who focuses on experiential education, that I did not have to do anything to make the group have an ‘experience’, I just had to be and thus encourage the same in others. The mirror that nature offers us is about Being – the lark is itself, never looking over its shoulder to the singing sunbird and thinking ‘I wish I was a sunbird’. Each element, bird, insect and animal is completely itself and this is where the feeling that emerged so clearly in this group of Matrics came from – by simply being in the mountains they had each found ‘the real me’. It is the concept of resonance – with no effort, or by doing anything except being in nature, the natural resonance of all things re-tunes our own.
Photo: JESS TYRRELL