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Wilderness, S o u t h A f r i c a

There’s been a whispering of late to write another blog post. I just didn’t know where to start because so much has occurred since my last writing that it didn’t seem there was a way of filling in all the gaps since Italy; since my first, wide-eyed, just getting established in Florence post, and then the abrupt changes that occurred after the lockdown.

If I was to briefly summarize what has happened since then: losing all my work, moving out of Florence to a villa in the countryside of Chianti, followed by a shared apartment with a quirky Italian man in a quaint village, and then the almost unbelievable decision to leave Italy altogether. I still cannot believe that this has all taken place; that I finally realized my dream of living in Italy and that I actually made the choice to leave.

I could blame it on the increasing restrictions from the government because of ‘covid’. I could blame it on the fact that I refused to follow along with any of those rules and wanted to escape but there was a much deeper soul urge to completely change the path I was on. A life-path calling that was nudging me to go back to my roots. To take with me all I had gleaned from the 28 years I’d spent away from my place of birth.

Current world circumstances were merely the trigger.

Nevertheless, it was a painstaking decision. That is for sure. My nervous system was already rattled from moving multiple times post my departure from the United States and then again within Italy. I couldn’t fathom how I would have the energy to, yet again, shed my belongings, say my goodbyes to my newly found community of sweet Italians and get on a plane, after the longest pause of flight travel I’d had since I started my travel adventures in 1992.

I only came to my final decision and made it happen one step, one moment at a time. I learned how to pace myself, day by day. During the process my friends from all over the world would ask: “So, have you made a decision yet?” and for weeks and weeks I said: “No”.

When I tired of forcing a decision, I would take myself on walks through the village and get my fill of Renaissance architecture, glance up at green shutters, listen to the sound of cute Italian children riding their bikes in the park, and smile at little old men smoking their pipes and drinking espresso with their friends at the coffee bar. I’d eat gelato whilst sitting in doorways on cobblestone streets, touch ancient walls, making sure to take in everything in minute detail so as not to forget, so as to forge the memory into my mind so that I could recall it at a future date, once I was gone.

I simply was not ready. I wasn’t ready to give up on this dream. I had not had my fill of the beauty before me, to let go of this dream that I’d envisioned ever since I had first visited Europe 28 years before. It had taken me all that time to get back, to take the leap, and now I was considering leaving?

Life is strange.

Some called the prospect of me coming back to Africa the path of least resistance. Some said it was an important task to come back to my family of origin – that it was courageous. My friend Paolo told me it was heroic. Perhaps it’s all those things. I couldn’t call it anything but moving forward for a bigger plan, to be of service to my parents and to the country I was born. It was just a deeper knowing. All the while my heart was breaking and my mind resisting but my soul held the line, along with my anxious body, through days and days and days of third-dimensional uncertainty and resistance, constantly urging me to just take one step at a time. It was the biggest lesson and lived experience of trusting in the timing of things and of literally taking things moment-to-moment in order not to overwhelm myself.

I’m a master at life puzzles, of researching and putting aspects of an unfolding prospect together but it’s not all linear. I jump around from different angles, from one thing to the next until the picture looks legible; until it all starts to make sense. And in between, I distract myself. I’ve been known to clean, decorate and spend entire days cooking just to avoid the next step in the decision-making process. But I acknowledge that that is actually part of the procedure. It’s my meditation. It allows my mind to settle in a subtle subconscious creation process of sorts which fuels me for the next, sometimes agonizing action-oriented move towards a decision, until finally I’m spat out on the other side, and voila! … I’ve decided and it feels like I’m finally on the water slide to my destination.

Now, as I write this, I muse on the inkling that anybody who grew up being trusted and acknowledged for their uniqueness and freedom to make mistakes, ask for help and have faith in themselves would have a much easier time than I do in making big decisions because they would have naturally learned how to truly know themselves. An engrained pattern of trust is forged.

Perhaps I’m wrong in this assumption but it would seem that it has been a life-long lesson of mine to learn to trust myself and my ability to do what I know is right for me, even if it’s not necessarily the easiest choice.

The better you know yourself and the more you’re embodied the easier it is to make decisions. Through trauma and being invalidated, we learn to disengage from ourselves and jump out of our bodies to avoid feeling certain things, so we, in effect, avoid ourselves and what’s true for us.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve gone on the winding path that I have. A path that’s led from dancing on stages – a very external showy art form, to teaching embodiment to others through movement – a more internal process. A path that’s led me to explore various healing arts modalities, and to travel and create. It’s all been a sensory journey to know myself. To know how it feels in my body. To know what feels true. I think to know thyself is the most important task of this human journey.

When you know yourself, you trust your intuition and you don’t second-guess yourself. You know what’s right for you in an instant and it’s not an agonizing weighing of every scenario possible.

There was a moment – a moment when I fell to my knees in acknowledgment of what I needed to do. Tears formed in my eyes and it was as though an angel was wrapping its wings around me from behind. It was a soul YES to return to South Africa. There are no moments quite like those spine-tingling ‘yes’ moments that seal the deal. It’s something no tarot card reading, pro’s and con’s list, or conversation with your closest confidant can give you. It took a while for my mind, my body, and my heart to catch up but my soul knew.

That last week in Italy was not easy: logistically, emotionally, physically. I came down with a cold and had to figure out what to do with all the things I had acquired for my new Italian home a year before that. Most of it was donated, some of it was packed in my trusty suitcase bound for Africa. My bicycle Amoré was sold to the sweetest family. My heart skipped a beat when I saw her being taken up the road. I LOVED that bike with her black basket and her smart tan seat. She and I had traversed the Chianti hills as well as the cobblestone streets of Florence all with ease, grace, and comfort. She was my right-hand gal and I adored her!

My goodbyes were filled with tears, long hugs, heartfelt good wishes from the lovely community of Italians I had finally started connecting with. I love them and am happy that we were able to *breathe together, walk together and, most importantly, eat together.

Upon returning here and speaking with my friend Paolo in Tuscany, I expressed to him that I felt like I had left a piece of my heart there and he said: “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it for you”. The sweetest sentiment, accompanied by the knowledge that one day I’d be back.

I write this two months after I’ve left Italy and traversed the African continent to the southernmost region of South Africa. The things I had intended for months and months, I’m starting to see manifest around me. My own little place, not too far from the ocean. On some days I can even hear her. I’m surrounded by nature, fruit trees, and the beginnings of a soul tribe. A place where I can walk out my front door and have my feet planted on the earth. Close enough to my parents so I can be there in a few hours if need be.

For now, I’m here. I’m here to witness the old age of my father, the exhaustion of my mother, the desertion by my sister, and all the damage done by her inability to see herself and her unwillingness to heal. I’m here to re-discover home and my roots. To bring what I can to the land and the people who have endured these last 28 years, through an ongoing economic crisis, through corruption, crime, and continued racism. The people that have been holding on by a thread but remain authentic, good-humored, and strong through it all.

I am finding a different kind of strength. I am finding all those vibrant parts of myself that I had stepped away from in order to make others feel comfortable. I’m acknowledging all the ways in which I hid away and all the ways I was the nice quiet girl so others wouldn’t be unkind or jealous. I’m seeing all the ways I contorted myself to fit into others’ expectations of me; to fit into a mold that stifled my brilliance. I’m seeing how, as I traveled further from my home, I traveled further from myself in some ways but in other ways, I moved closer.

And now, I meet myself in the middle of here and there; integrating, rediscovering. Seeing where not to take on others’ stuff and where I can let go more. Where I can laugh and love more. Where I can truly feel at home within myself more.

*I found a holotropic rebirthing breathing group in that small town in Tuscany. There I met my little community of sweet and funny Italian friends. It was a confirmation that wherever I go in the world I will always find a little tribe of kindred souls.

Author: Sivitri Delphia

I express my soul through writing, designing, and dancing.

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