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Archive for February, 2017

A Trip to Africa

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Africa. How do I tell about my trip to volunteer at a lion conservation program in Zimbabwe? Was it all I expected? Yes and no. Because I am a romantic, I had visions of it being a place vastly unlike here. That’s not the case. However, a fundamental difference I found was the perception of time. Westerners tend to believe that time is limited—making plans based on efficient use of it. For Africans, time is unlimited. Their plans seem to have a loose schedule. During maintenance projects, their approach caused frustration. However, during tasks when the lions were the time-keepers, such as lion walks or cubsitting, we all moved at lion speed (usually slow and often at a standstill) without question or desire to improve it.

Capturing a moment in a photo, that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, is something I adore doing. So it was with excitement that I packed my camera and three lenses to Zimbabwe. At the end of my first full day there, the camera could no longer read memory cards. A film crew was at the park filming a series on the lion program (to be aired in the UK starting Jan. 1). Their cameraman looked into my camera and disappointingly discovered one of the pins that reads the cards was broken. Something fixable, but not in Zimbabwe. So there I was in Africa—on what seemed like a three-week photo shoot—without a working camera. Truth be told, there was quite a bit of self-pity. But what this circumstance allowed me—forced me—to do was simply and fully engage in the moment. Instead of striving to better an image already taken, I was simply enjoying the experience of sitting with a lion, walking alongside an elephant, or watching zebra and giraffe from horseback. Meaning I was more in ‘Africa Time.’

In the wild, lions move around only a few hours a day. Preferring to lounge in the shade, groom members of their pride or sleep. Over the last fourty years the African Lion population has decreased by approximately 80-90%. I can’t help but recognize that over those same forty years, our culture has seemingly lost touch with our ability to slow down, enjoy our families and experience simple lifestyles—the very characteristics lions epitomize. I wonder how the lion population would be affected if our society was able to embrace lion behavior and remember to relax and appreciate the art of leisure? I’m willing to give it a try, are you?

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