“This is the bright home in which I live, this is where I ask my friends to come, this is where I want to love all the things it has taken me so long to learn to love. This is the temple of my adult aloneness and I belong to that aloneness as I belong to my life. There is no house like the house of belonging.”
– David Whyte, poet, philosopher, zoologist and author
Words hold power. They provide us with a medium to convey much of the scope of our human experience. But it is the conversation we have with ourselves, the one that flickers between our thoughts and our words, that tells us who we really are.
A guiding light for me in translating how I feel into words is poet, philosopher, zoologist and author David Whyte. As a scientist and poet, he has the unique ability to translate exactly how I feel when I am out in the wild. Many of his words have taken up permanent residence in my consciousness, though one line gives me the greatest pause: “There is no house like the house of belonging.” In nine simple words, David states a universal truth while prompting the age-old question: where do I belong? As a child of the Zimbabwean bush, there is nowhere I feel more at home than in the wild.
Over the years, my team and I have listened closely to guests’ responses to being on our ROAR AFRICA journeys. The depth of commentary, the connections made, the visible transformation I witness in guests as trips unfold… These are all proof positive of my belief in rediscovering our roots in nature. It’s what led me to ask David to work with me to help translate this experience of the soul while being on safari.
Return to the Wild with David Whyte, co-hosted by David Whyte and myself, is the second of these retreats. Together, we’ll examine that complex interplay of our modern-day lives with the natural elements we have become so far removed from, and, in the process, find the answer to the question of belonging that I posed above. We’ll learn that we all belong in the wild, but also that our true wild home is the one we hold within ourselves.
“Deborah, I had absolutely no idea of the depth of the curation of your experiences. I have traveled for my entire life. Never have I ever experienced or been moved to this degree. You have made me realize that I’ve lived from my neck up. Finally, I’ve come into my body.” – guest, Into the Wild with David Whyte, 2023
In Africa’s wilderness, life is slower and more thoughtful, dictated by the ancient rhythms of nature. On this journey, we pause. Wrapped in safety, love and care, with every need pre-empted, guests sink into the wonder of this meticulously executed experience. Each day is gently guided by the elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether, prompting conversations around the fire and reflective thinking on our interconnectivity with the wild. Filled to the brim, we tap into those elusive emotions of awe and gratitude. Awakened, we come back into our bodies and root our feet into the earth – the house where we belong.
I cannot delve into this extraordinary experience without mentioning Segera, the sublime setting for Return to the Wild with David Whyte. This rewilded land, a beacon of conservation and care, is one of my most cherished distant homes. As a property, Segera manages to be so many things at once: a luxurious eco-haven in the wilderness; an inimitable example of education, women’s empowerment and cultural respect; a protected sanctuary for wildlife; and the site of so many happy memories. From the second you arrive, you never want to leave – a sentiment voiced by the majority of our guests at our last retreat. That primal feeling of homecoming is why we gather in the sacred foothills of Mount Kenya.
“I'm leaving here with a full heart of love and beauty, and I feel I'm just going onto a new journey and having the conversations with myself I didn't have before. Deborah, I'm in awe every time of what you are capable of orchestrating; making people feel safe and loved.” – guest, Into the Wild with David Whyte, 2023
The word safari means “to journey” in Swahili. Return to the Wild with David Whyte is an exceptional safari – a journey of and into the soul. It is imbued with wildlife, wilderness, modes of wellness and the wisdom of a poet who truly understands the full spectrum of our yearning to find our place in the world. That feeling of well-being that feeds your spirit during our week in the wild extends far beyond the self. The positive impact of your return to the wild is immediate but also has a long-lasting ripple effect on critical conservation initiatives and local communities, forging an even deeper connection to this magnificent landscape, your wild home, long after you leave. After all, isn’t that why we travel? To feel rooted, recentered and to return home filled with purpose, a touch kinder and more gentle.
“I’m so grateful to be here and to have experienced this; to be re-energized into what my purpose is here in the world. And it starts by knowing that I’m home.” – guest, Into the Wild with David Whyte, 2023
Join us on Return to the Wild with David Whyte, an epic journey into nature and one that I consider, to borrow David’s wise words again, “the bright home in which I live … where I ask my friends to come.”