Man has long gone to the mountains for solace and inspiration. John Muir was a great advocate of this. “I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news,” said the Scottish-American naturalist, author and environmental philosopher. Muir was one of the first people in the world to advocate for the preservation of wildernesses.
Among the world’s other conservationists, those aiming to create and preserve a corner of nature that cannot be touched, those reserving mountainsides as homes for animals and sanctuaries for man, is Bushmans Kloof. A wilderness reserve and wellness retreat in the Cederberg mountains of South Africa.
Bushmans Kloof goes beyond “kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us,” as Muir writes. It is a place of wisdom – little wisdoms with big impact. Below are ten #bklittlewisdoms from our most recent visit to the reserve, as celebrated on our Instagram…
The 10 Little Wisdoms of Bushmans Kloof
1. Be here now
Three simple words. But perhaps the greatest epiphany you’ll ever have – and one I came to through the work of spiritual teacher, Ram Dass. Be here now.
Like the Buddhist philosophy of mindfulness, it is a reminder that all stress and fear and trouble comes from not being here, where we are in this moment. It comes from having our heads in yesterday or tomorrow. When we retreat into ourselves in the present, all that crumbles away and we are free to truly see and experience life.
The environment is perfectly set for this at Bushmans Kloof – during a massage, the therapist’s touch bringing you into your body, or while cycling with the zebras, in the seeming middle of nowhere (or rather, now here).
2. Lessons from humanity’s earliest artists
The ancient wisdom of the Bushmen is hidden on the robust surface of the overhangs and caves of the Cederberg – in the form of art. Bushmans Kloof holds up to 130 rock art sites, some of which date back 10,000 years. These creations, made using oxide pigments and as a way of depicting the tribes’ spiritual and cultural lives, serve as a portal to this ancient wisdom.
On our visit to the sites, guide Jannie explained the many lessons present in the images and in the lives of their creators – lessons in natural healing, community, sustainable living and leadership, for example these seven that the Step Up Leader learnt from the Bushman tribes of north Africa.
- Speak little. Observe a lot.
- When the group wins, everyone eats.
- Victory only happens through team.
- Everyone prospers because the goal is to take care of the group.
- We are responsible for people, even those that are not part of our formal community.
- Focus on what truly matters.
- Live in the present and live happily.
3. Sometimes strangers make the best of friends
Dining at Bushmans Kloof’s Kadoro Lodge, ‘Kadoro’ meaning ‘tinderbox of stories’, the stories flow as the name implies, around the campfire, and inside around the dinner table with the other guests and guides. With new faces and new tales, in a rustic, secluded cottage in the heart of the reserve, the experience is quite remarkable. Outside, the milkyway reminds you of how it feels to be wholly stumped by the grandiosity of the world, a world that’s always there (and that is better when shared).
4. “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch…
…a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ― Leo Buscaglia
Take the time to run your hands through the plants in the gardens at the reserve, praise the men and women who have tended to them so well and in such a remote environment. Savour the meals and be quicker to thank than to complain. Consider the lives of the people that make your experience possible and honour them with your time or through Packing for a Purpose… Don’t underestimate your role.
5. Make time for a little monkey play
After all, in the words of Roald Dahl, “A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.” A wise lesson from the baboons of the Cederberg…
6. “Relax your body, and the rest of you will lighten up.”
– Haruki Murakami.
If you’re struggling with number one on our list, start with the body and the mind will follow… The Bushmans Kloof experience is all about relaxation, of body and mind, from the freedom of roaming the bush with no threat of predators to the riverside spa.
7. Accepting our differences
Many different things have been said about difference… From the negative – “If you are different from the rest of the flock, they bite you.” ― Vincent O’Sullivan – to the positive – “We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more.” ― Bill Clinton.
Either way, much can be learnt about accepting our differences from the animal kingdom, from wildernesses like Bushmans Kloof, where different species live side by side, in harmony.
8. “What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare…
…No time to stand beneath the boughs / And stare as long as sheep or cows. / No time to see, when woods we pass, / Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. / No time to see, in broad daylight, / Streams full of stars, like skies at night. / No time to turn at Beauty’s glance, / And watch her feet, how they can dance. / No time to wait till her mouth can / Enrich that smile her eyes began. / A poor life this is if, full of care, / We have no time to stand and stare.” – Leisure by William H Davies.
Take the time to see in the morning and watch the coming of night, and in between, in the rush of day, slow down and take a proper look at your surroundings.
9. “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”
So said Jose Ortega y Gassett. You know about the state of Greece and the split of Bennifer, but do you know the names of these plants?
Be aware of what you give your attention to… It is what defines your life.
10. “Time is the raw material of creation…
Our final little wisdom, inspired by the hard-working Bushmans Kloof Riel dancers and band. Meet the people behind our last lesson in our blog, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. In the words of Kevin Ashton, from Creative People Say No…
“Time is the raw material of creations. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.”
Let us know what your #bklittlewisdoms are, if you’ve travelled to this part of South Africa before.