God knows how it happened, but in 1994, the year Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa, I found myself employed in an investment bank. Having spent most of my childhood in the tops of trees, gallivanting in nature and generally avoiding homework, a job in the heart of Africa was more my cup of tea, protecting elephants, rhinos, leopards and trees. But where we find ourselves at given moments is rich in mystery. Only further down the road do we discover the deeper meaning and purpose of what went before. For now, I’m grateful for the insight into the heart of a system ripe for transformation – something in which we all have a part to play; working with the system, with everyone, without exception, without blame, taking responsibility for the world within and about us and everything that comes our way.
Strangely enough, the majority of my time in a bank was spent focused on South Africa, the rest covering US and European media companies, but following three years in London and six in New York, in 2003 someone magical set me free. I resigned from my job and followed my heart. I was bursting to see more of the world with my own eyes and to write a novel that would plunge me into the great mysteries – to explore the big questions that science in its current state cannot answer, above all, the miracle of life, death, the tantalising idea of rebirth, the unconscious, the world of dreams, God and many other things. At a practical level, though I didn’t realise it at the time, I set off in the pursuit of presence. So began a journey which took me first to Nigeria and Brazil, while in the years that followed I’ve bounced between the East (the countries of the Silk Road – the old trade routes running between Turkey and China) and South America, including a three year motorcycle journey from London to Nepal through the Middle East, the Stans and India, and my most recent journey up through the Americas that started Dec 2013 in Patagonia and finished Aug 2018 in Seattle. Since then I’ve been in Britain, answering the call to contribute more practically to these portentous times we live in.
I feel immensely grateful for the opportunity to travel, to see what a glorious world we live in and to have felt humanity in every place I’ve been, especially in the parts we’re advised to avoid. We’re told they’re full of danger, places such as Iran, Pakistan, Kurdistan and Colombia, when quite the opposite is true. They’re full of human warmth and inspiration, where people stop to help you and share their time and food. This is our true joy – to share without want of anything in return, to offer our gifts to the world and be open to receive the gifts of others.
I wish you all a wonderful journey.
Note 1: the header photo is Syria, north of As-Sikhneh, 2010. Below is riding out of Tajikistan and into Kyrgyzstan, 2011.
Note 2: Behind the website name SlowJinn is the idea that by slowing down we see the magic of life, jinn being synonymous with desert magic.