I did not see THAT coming (safari edition)

I recently traveled a gazillion miles to South Africa for an adventure retreat with my favorite life coach, Martha Beck. Basically, this is a crazy combination of African safari and life coaching sessions. Wild, brilliant and far. When I finally arrived at Londolozi Game Reserve, I was casually told, “A water buffalo was hanging out at your cabin earlier. I don’t know if it is still there.”

Upon hearing this, I thought “That is what YOU RESORT PEOPLE tell tourists so we feel like we’re having a gen-u-ine safari experience. Nice performance, lady. Some theme park you’ve got here.”

When I walked to my cabin and saw alleged water buffalo in the back yard, I did not believe it was real. I am not joking. I was 100% convinced it was a statue and merely part of the safari “ambience”. When that darn water buffalo stood up, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. In reality, I was experiencing something more magical and exciting than I could have imagined before that moment. And I could feel my brain stretching to make room for other ridiculous possibilities.

Before this trip, I could not envision what a safari would be like. I didn’t expect good things or bad things — in fact, I didn’t really think about it at all. I didn’t read the manual, How to Get the Most from Your Safari. Instead, I decided to be adventurous and excited. With no blueprint in mind, I experienced things that I never would have imagined. So much so that I didn’t believe my eyes when a water buffalo greeted me at check-in.

And there was more. Much more. During breakfast, a monkey stole my toast. I did not see THAT coming. I could hear lions roaring at night time. I did not see THAT coming. Who has that kind of imagination? I surely didn’t.

Had I expected such things, I could hardly call it an adventure.

Zebras, hyenas, rhinos, impalas, hippos, lions, elephants, giraffes, baboons, wildebeest, ostriches, alligators and a leopard.  As the days passed, I started to believe that there would be a surprise around each corner. And there was.

Since I have spent countless hours expecting disaster around life’s corners, these delightful surprises felt like an antidote to anxiety. Even though I was in an open jeep with an enormous lion approaching, I was not scared. I’ve experienced more intense fear while opening bills in the safety of my office. When you have no expectations about what could go wrong, you may be delighted by what shows up.

As Martha Beck says, “Set yourself free to imagine wonderful things.”

Guess what? You don’t have to travel over nine times zones. You can begin right here.


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