Rediscovering the Track

Rediscovering the Track 


Boyd Varty, master tracker, writer—The Cathedral of the Wild--and owner of the Londolozi Game preserve in South Africa, writes:


“I’ve learned that nothing is worth doing if it cannot be done from a place of deep peace. If we want to restore the planet, we must first restore ourselves. I believe that you find your way to your right life, your mission, the same way you find an animal. First you quiet your heart and be still. Then find the fresh track and be willing to follow it. You don’t need to see the whole picture; you only need to see where to take the next step. Life isn’t about staying on track; it’s about constantly rediscovering the track.”


Having just made a life-changing decision, I ask myself: Was it done from the place of deep peace that Varty describes above? I think not. Nonetheless it was—like many of our seemingly abrupt decisions-- done from an unconscious accumulation of experience and awareness.


Still, I think Varty has said it all and I admire the way he wrote it in his remarkable book about growing up on Londolozi land in South Africa. Reading the book, we witness the lively, sometime hilarious and sometimes frightening story of his journey into adulthood that brought him into the wisdom expressed above.


 “First quiet your heart and be still.” That means waiting. Many of us are not so good at that. Waiting. My wise son said about my pending decision to sell my beloved English cottage, “Wait three days, Mom, and then see what you want to do.” I waited the three days—three days are so symbolic—and then I was certain it was time to let it go. Sometimes the wait needs to be much longer than three days. Perhaps, as Ina Garten has written about her decision to begin to

 write cookbooks, a person might need to wait a year to find “the fresh track.”


Being still and waiting allows the Universe, God, the Great Choreographer in the Sky, to do some things: shift some ideas, create some space and open some minds, including our own. All of the above, and so much more: miracles that we cannot fathom.


Waiting makes us feel powerless because we are not doing anything. In our action-oriented culture, that’s bad news. In eastern cultures there are three acknowledged and accepted states of mind: yes, no and I don’t know. 


“I don’t know?”  People in the west tend to think you are a wishy-washy no-account if you don’t know what to do next. I remember my youngest son returning from a visit to Ohio—where he was born--after spring vacation of his senior year in college, and saying to me, “Everyone wanted to know what I was going to do and I had to say I don’t know. It was awful, Mom!”  (This man—not so young now---has seven television Emmys to his credit.)


A friend of mine retired from teaching a month ago and almost everyone she runs into asks her what her plans are. Travel? Moving? She laughs, waves her hands in the air and says, “Summer!”


Finding the “fresh track” and being “willing to follow it” takes courage. We need to trust our intuitions and also, if we are a bit off the mark at the start, we are urged to be mindful that that we can shift our course. Making adjustments, learning from our errors, in my mind, is the most significant life learning we can accrue. And, as Boyd Varty writes, “Life isn’t about staying on track; it’s about constantly rediscovering the track.”


“Rediscovering the track,” Yes. The process of rediscovery challenges us to remain alert and alive in our own existence. What a great way to live!


Written for Unleash Potential by Cecily Stranahan, our companion on this journey of reflection and self-discovery. Visit Cecily's Blog at