A pilgrimage of the soul: Deborah Calmeyer in conversation with poet David Whyte

August 6, 2022

The art of pilgrimage is setting off to a place far away that you find is already inside you when you arrive.” – David Whyte

World-renowned poet David Whyte and I recently discussed the transformative power of being in the wild. After all, a safari is a journey in pursuit of wild spaces and wildlife. It’s a pilgrimage that marries the joy of rewilding with restorative rest. 

Return to the wild

“The invitation of going into the wild is the invitation to go into a foundational part of yourself.” – David Whyte

Much of David Whyte’s acclaimed body of work explores the relationship between the pressures of the outside world and the inner struggles of the self. We can all identify with this push and pull of mind and body. In our conversation, we agree that returning to the wilds of Africa brings a sense of homecoming. I use the word “returning” intentionally as David reminded me that, “Africa, in all its different wild forms, brings out our original identities; it’s where we all came from.” 

I have witnessed Africa’s wild spaces act as a tonic for our guests. Time spent being still – looking, listening, and watching this well-oiled machine of nature – brings people back to their original selves. David’s wise words will undoubtedly lift the lid off our perceived worldviews, unravel the set narratives in our heads, and open our hearts to new possibilities. To imagine the elixir of poetry combined with the tonic only the wilderness can provide, as will be the case on our Into the Wild with David Whyte trip, is an amazing thought to me, perhaps offering an extremely rare opportunity of awakening and self love. Things we are numbed to in our day-to-day existence. 

The place of pause and peace

“Human beings find their rest, not in monocultures but in complex ecologies where they’re cradled by all the different elements working together.” – David Whyte

Safaris beat to a rhythm. When the animals rise, you rise. When the animals rest, you rest. Many of us are starved of contemplative moments with nothing but the soothing sounds of undisturbed nature to distract us. Segera, your home base for this trip to Kenya, is an oasis of calm, teeming with wildlife at the foot of Mount Kenya. Heady days will blend morning game drives with ancient healing modalities like cranial sacral therapy, breathwork, massage, drumming, sound therapy, and storytelling. Fresh-from-the-garden food will nourish your body while stimulating conversation, and thought-provoking poetry will feed your mind and encourage that deep yearning for which we are all so longing – connection. In my experience, Segera’s wildly beautiful landscape shifts one’s inner landscape. The property has all the luxury trimmings to enable you to pause, be present, and find the stillness that is a resource we have forgotten.

A pilgrimage of the soul

“A good holiday works when all the chords play inside your bodily instrument; adventure, pilgrimage, discovery… your intellect stimulated by good poetry and thought. To be fed well and to have good rest and good conversation with others about the insights of the day, it’s a heady combination.” – David Whyte

David describes our world as “so incredibly complex, the strategic mind thinks that if it can just file everything in the right box, it will find a way to live amongst it all.” In our daily life, so many of our senses are shut down. In Africa, your sensory system comes roaring back to life. Aromas are enlivened. You smell the earth. You taste the air. You feel alive. 

A safari is as much a pilgrimage of the senses as it is of the spirit. And this idea of pilgrimage, of setting off to a place more important than the one we’re standing in, is an ancient human need. Into the Wild with David Whyte, February 22 – 28, 2023,  will tie poetry to pilgrimage, safari to the soul, and nature to nurture. David and I have poured our hearts into designing this exceptional experience and I hope you’ll join us – and our team of extraordinarily talented practitioners – for a journey like no other.

Before signing off, I invite you to press play and prepare to be transported by David Whyte’s recitation of his poem, “Everything is Waiting for You”, a call to do away with distraction, connect with nature, and be in the now. 


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