Life’s Spiral

Not all caterpillars turn into butterflies


I guess the next phase in my metamorphosis is coming to its long-awaited end and I have to stop looking at things as merely my physical being. By now, it is abundantly clear that my spiritual, mental and personal psyche has to tag along too.

After many months of varying unfortunate events that began this reshaping of my life, I am seeing now that each has been a stage in this ultimate realization; that I am emerging into a new body, a new life, a new world and it all has to mean that a different form of me will emerge. I am no longer in my Landie with ele’s.

That sort of defined all of me, and the world I lived in, and for. It was who I felt I was before this abrupt upheaval. Now I am somewhat lost, in a transition I suppose. Even if I had a Landie, there are still no elephants.

I think I can safely say that my recent surgery, of which only a few knew, seems to have been a success. It was almost elective surgery but really only corrective; I had my stoma reversed and I can now move on and concentrate on the next phase without the combined dilemma of dialysis with a stoma bag.

It is also now a year that I have become a city-dwelling citizen in this far away land so steeped in human history and so far from the natural, and my 3 dialysis mornings a week, not only define my days but they define my life. For now.

I am now an indoor person, I am incubating. I don’t know what I will become and I have no idea where life is taking me. Tonight I was trying to impress upon my nephew to follow his heart as the only path in life. The fact is, I don’t even know what I want or where my heart is supposed to take me. From here.

I am lucky! I am very lucky. My heart has taken me to some of the most reMarcable corners of Africa that have been home to the some of the largest numbers of elephants within those habitats and I have lived among them, drank their water and breathed their air. I have shared their worlds with all of their diversity and that is what is the sum of the caterpillar that was me for the first half century of my life.

I know that there is a path to find a new utopia, a new me. I know that I am the key to following that path and that it is almost as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. I know this because I have done it before. Not only once. I have had major setbacks in my life and bounced back just as hard and as many as there have been of those, most importantly, I have had set myself dreams and lived them by this very same philosophy.

My lack of direction right now has little to do with lack of heart and more to do with reality and there is time yet to dream. For now, however, I am concentrating on these phases of my physical transformation; healing from this surgery so that I am strong enough for the next and perhaps beyond that, I can dream of a kidney. For it is then that the pupal stage begins and I can transform from this pain wriggled worm into something that might fly again. I don’t need to be a butterfly, a drab brown moth will do.

28 December 2018

…and a flower, for the ladies.




64 thoughts on “Life’s Spiral”

  1. Hi David, great to hear from you, and thank you for your kind words. I am not sure if you were with us on the reunion call. I am very lucky and grateful to have expert medical care here. Sending blessings and hi to Carol.

  2. Hi Marc, David Gibb checking in. Thought I’d leave a comment here to say hi and trust you are having success with your treatment. Life does seem rather unpredictable at times but often gives you an opportunity to flourish into a beautiful butterfly given it is the plan. Stay positive and persevere as that’s often the catalyst to glory and freedom. Best of everything friend!

  3. Hi Lana, I am sorry it has taken so long to reply to a very heartfelt comment. I am touched and humbled by your words, thank you. I am impressed with your commitment to helping ellies and I understand how emotional it can be becoming so intimately involved with the conservation of them. I always wish I could do more but then I read the likes of your words and I am reminded that I have reached a few people around the world and maybe changed the direction of their lives too and in the process, maybe helped conservation in that way too. Sending love.

  4. I think so often of you, Marc, though it’s taken me a long time to write to you. Your wonderful guidance on the Djuma Game Drives, especially the things you told us about elephants, were the beginning of a life-changing experience for me in the midst of some very bad times (some healthwise, including a lot of difficulties as a cancer survivor, but other things as well). I had always been interested in ellies, but had given up on it years before because there was too much “sad stuff.” And in fact I seemed to be closing my heart to too many things because I didn’t want to risk the pain. All the amazing sightings we had, all that you told us, revived my interest; around that same time there was an article about Sheldrick’s orphans that I read, fortified with all that I had seen and learned from you. I made the decision that I was very foolish to lose the joys in life because I was barring the door against sorrows. I became involved in fostering baby elephants that would be released into the wild “in the fullness of time,” when they were ready for this physically and psychologically. Several at Sheldrick’s, a couple in other places who follow that same protocol. (There are other elephant orphanages but so far as I know only these three are really preparing ellies for a proper life in the wild.) There have been heartbreaks with my ellies, but yes, the joy as well and the feeling that I am doing something to help. I am still constantly awed and amazed by these wonderful beings, despite reading well over a hundred books, watching documentaries and webcams and videos. They aren’t the only wild creatures that fascinate me, but they are the most incredible and inspiring. (Years ago I made myself a little “reminder card” that I keep here on my desk, with the picture of an elephant walking in that calm purposeful way that they have, and the words “Just keep moving forward.”)

    I wish I could help you in these difficult times–you always spoke to us as if we were friends, and I believe you felt that we were, even those of us who never sent in questions but just watched in fascination and empathy. We certainly were presumptuous enough to feel like your friends! In spite of the ellies and other “major” wildlife, when I think of you, the moment that I remember the most was your sadness and compassion one day after a rare frost when you found that poor little chameleon, gone Beyond but still clinging to its tree-branch. It touched my heart to the very depths. (I’m old enough to be your mother, so it’s not that I have a “crush” on you, by the way!) We all felt your love–of all living things–and how much you loved teaching us, how much we loved learning! We can only revisit those days in memory, or journals, or some YouTube videos now and then–but their impact is with us always, one way or another. I was just telling someone at an elephant site blog about the incident with a baby ele that I saw on one of the game drives, the little one who was afraid to cross the water at the dam. So the old stories, like all good stories, live on with a life of their own. Please tell us more stories, share more memories, teach us new things or remind us of the ones in the past. And let us praise your knowledge and courage.

    There are so many of us who care so much. If only we could each give a little drop of healing and strength you would have an ocean of your very own. But you’d probably prefer a Low Veld of your very own to any ocean! So then, we’d send the seeds for a savannah… Be well, Marc. We love you.

  5. So here you are, our old friend from the Sabi Sand and Djuma safari. Miss you very much, but will never forget you. All the best from the old shepherd on Gotland, northern Europe.

  6. Somebody on SLive twitter said ‘flower for the ladies’ with a salute to you and I thought I would see how you are getting on. You don’t know me at all but I remember so clearly ‘meeting’ you over the internet at the beg of 2015 when it was pouring with rain and you were under the tarpaulin in the long grass, talking about animals and life. I loved your drives. Elephants, flowers and the small things. I wish you well in your cocoon, Marc, waiting to emerge; I am sure you will. No one deserves it more. Diana in Australia

  7. Marc, You introduced me to the wonders of So Africa on the Thornybush drive.. I enjoyed your stories then and the new stories you share now.. hmm What is it about you that people are so drawn to.. Never give up on your dreams.. Thanks for sharing your wonderful stories of your life.. Looking forward to the next chapter and thank you for the flower. ♥

  8. Jill, you were instrumental in developing my mind and need to write. It may not have seemed like it at the time but I was listening in class. Sending love.

  9. Marc, so grateful for your updates! Butterfly or moth you will have wings and will fly and will always be beautiful in any form. One of my best memories…when poor jigga would not run and we had a dam side chat….We did not miss the large critters as you showed us the beauty in everything around us.
    on WE= Cheshill

  10. You are indeed a reMarcable soul, dear friend. Thank you for the privilege of sharing your challenging journey over several years. Your continuing erudite renditions of your life story, enthrall and amaze me. May 2019 be a year to remember for all the right reasons!

  11. Marc, it was such a privilege to meet you in 2013 at Thornybush. You have no idea how many people you have touched with your kindness, many of whom have never even met you. Stay strong.

  12. Deborah, one of these days when the mind is clear enough to plan a few hundred pages, I’ll tackle that task. Thanks for the support over the years. much love.

  13. You will always be a reMARCable person to me. I could never see you as a drab anything. I miss you and love reading your posts. You have an amazing way with words. You are always in my heart. ((((Hugs)))) azvettech

  14. Blessings Marc. May the new year bring all you dream of and more. Good to hear from you. Stay strong and determined as you morph. Hope your changes reveal an amazing butterfly.

  15. Marc I feel your next move in this life is a book or a series of books My life with the Ellies or roaming Africa The Ellies and me I know from the years of reading your letters and memories that you are the most inspirational writer !

  16. Well hello dear barefoot professor. Thank you for keeping us updated. I stumbled upon you while you were doing the WE videos. For months l planned my days around them because you were so captivating. It did not matter if you could not find zebra for us you would fi d a bush and off you would go. Now l always notice the little bugs. Just like that last drive and the last few minutes when you came around the curve and in the middle of the road sit our Queen. Who is to say you will not be back to the land you love one day? You are taking the long way around but one day you could be back. Take care dear professor and keep dreaming of your next adventure when you get back to your Ellie’s.

  17. Dear Marc, I cry while being elated with the news that you have taken a step forward with your health and being done with the stoma bag. I know you have far to go. I think of you often, especially since having just visited Timbavati in September, where I hoped to meet with you. When you have completed your incubation, I hope that you will be the most beautiful and healthy of swans. ❤❤❤ Warm hugs, Barbara

  18. You’re writings always touch my heart….you have always been inspiring. 2018 was a rough year for you but you have fought and survived. I pray that 2019 brings you all you deserve so that you can not just fly like the brown moth or the butterfly but soar like a beautiful Eagle. All my best today and always.
    Debra Watson Richardson
    Lake Texoma, Texas

  19. Marc I have never met you yet you are such a part of my soul I really have no words to describe it. Thank you for keeping us updated. Everyday I say a little something for you Dear Marc and give thanks that you have blessed us with your kindness, intelligence and beauty. You are a warrior and you inspire all of us to endless heights. Love you dearly and I hope that I have the honour of meeting you in person some day.

  20. I am crying while reading this Marc. I have been on all your drives with SL. I have laughed with you, cried with you and above all learned so .much from you. You will NEVER be a drab brown moth. EVER. You have such a beautiful soul and that to me is as good as any butterfly. I have shared so much from you and l cannot thank you enough. I have a feeling the Ellie’s haven’t seen the last of you.xxxxxxxx

  21. Thank you, Beth. Your words encourage me to share more of my pieces of Africa.

  22. Thank, you, Julyia, I am encouraged by all the love and support from so many across the planet. blessings for the new year to you and family.Lotsa love.

  23. Thank you, Dana, that is not rambling but very touching words that reached my core. Thank you. Much love.

  24. Thank you, Ruth, I am blessed to have so much support and forever grateful.

  25. Thank you, Catherine, it’s everyone out there who have provided the lift to soar with their prayers and well wishes.

  26. Hello Marc, as we say in french, “Hauts les coeurs !” or let’s take heart and go forward ! You are amazing ! Please, keep flying and soaring with your wing high !!! Hoping 2019 will be the year to bring you transformation and happiness. Catherine

  27. Keep well and stay strong. I, too, am going through a journey like you. Accepting new limitations is very trying. But I believe things happen when they’re meant to. There will be another chapter to write. I’ve followed you since your day one at Djuma and look forward to hearing about your next chapter.

  28. Marc. Thank you for hosting. You are loved. You are missed. And you are being prayed for every day. It is a blessing to hear from you. God continue to bless you.

  29. Your positive attitude and love and support from friends and family will help support you too! Sending love and light!!

  30. Maybe your next phase is to put your beautiful words in book form. Thank you for sharing.

  31. Marc I long to see you please post your photo we all miss you. A small brown moth is very important there is beauty in all living things you taught us all that. God hold you in His hands and help you.

  32. Glad to hear from you Marc. Praying for you and hoping a new kidney comes your way real soon. Thanks for the update and the beautiful flower. God bless you always!! Sincerely, Kathleen from Pennsylvania

  33. Praying for you Marc. Hoping a new kidney comes your way. Thanks so much for the update and the beautiful flower. God bless you always!!

  34. Marc…YOU could never be a “drab” anything! Thank you for the flower….Love you LOTS!

  35. Dear Mark,
    One of the most remarkable things that exists is the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly or moth. The intricate process it must go through is a true wonder of nature. I began watching you on Safari Live and fell in love with the beauty that is your soul. I have been so sad about you having to leave your elephants and your home. I make it a point to read every update you post and send caring thoughts when ever you cross my mind. I wish I could have met you as I feel you are one of the few that truly understand the inner connective energies that flow through all nature.
    I’m writing this because you talk about not being a butterfly however, your soul is more beautiful than any butterfly even if there are only a few who can see your colors. Too many people are blind to what true beauty is. Your struggle in the cocoon in which you reside at the moment is only meant to polish those colors so that they shine more brilliantly to those that truly see them. Please don’t ever give up, we don’t have enough people like you in the world and to lose even one is a tragedy.
    I know I’m no one special and you have no clue who I am except that I’m one of the faceless fans in the vast ocean that is the internet. However, I thought it important that you know there are a few of us out here, that like you feel and understand the energies of nature and the truth of what is in the soul. And that we care about you and hope one day to see you emerge and fly again.
    Thanks for reading my ramblings, for all the flowers for the ladies and for just having the spirit you do.
    Loving wishes
    Dana Robbins (aka. Silky)

  36. Great story. I love it! Keep the positive flowing. We got you in our prayers always. Take care ❤

  37. When I read this, I had so many thoughts I wanted to share with you, but you seem to be working things out. Hopefully, you have someone to bounce your thoughts off. But the flower for the ladies sent tears streaming down my face. You remain in my prayers, and always in my thoughts. Just remember that you are the sum of who you are, not about ellies or Landies. Trust in your Higher Power and listen for answers. They will come.

  38. Beautiful Marc. We all have a life we would love to be living but sometimes the physical body can get in the way of those dreams. Being able to still live with what has been given to us is a great gift.

    I have never been able to travel to places like you have. I made a choice to settle down and have children. five sons. They have given me such a beautiful gifts by giving me grandchildren. They make me so happy and to see my sons grow into such wonderful men has been great.

    Watching you and the other guides on safari have given me much pleasure in my life.

    I hope you find your dreams whether it is as a butterfly or a moth.

  39. As you have a way with the animals so dear to us all, you have a way with words, and it is such a pleasure to read your stories. I am hoping you will write some books for publication. I am convinced they will be the best!
    Marc on this, almost the last day of this year 2018, I hope and pray that the new year will bring you many good things, good health, the company of friends and family, and just knowing that thousands of people love, miss and care for you so very much. May you continue to see reMarcable improvements in your health and find joy and satisfaction in your writings. Love you lots – from a long-time viewer and admirer of one amazing man, one who has taught us so much. Thank you Marc and God Bless – Julyia ♥♥♥

  40. Thank you, Marc for this beautiful description of our journey through the different planes of life (as I see it). I am 80 years old and have had many wonderful experiences in my life…traveling and living in foreign lands, working with infants for many years professionally, music, and art….the one thing I regret most is being unable to travel to Africa to see your (and my) ellies. Although I could actually afford the trip at this time in my life, I have had two strokes that will prevent me from traveling so far alone. But I will continue to enjoy the ellies and nature through your eyes until the end of my journey on this plane. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you continue your healing journey.

  41. Thank you Marc for your newest story of your new like. Our daughter has had the same surgery, emergency it was. It has been 8-9 years now, she is fine, just no more bikinis. If a close friend of ours hadn’t survived through the surgery, he talked her through every step of it. It really helped her husband get through it for her also. You will be fine for that surgery still praying for a new Kidney for you.
    Glad that now you can find a new life or hobby to start a new dream with. You have been blessed to enjoy and love your elephants dream. Continue on keeping your heart set for total healing and new adventures. From Florida to you.

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