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I’ve Been Thinking … From Longing to Belonging

Once a year I travel ten thousand miles to be with my community. We’re a mixed bunch, that’s for sure. We come from every continent except Antarctica. Some of us live in huge cities, others in tiny villages. Some of us aren’t even human. But when we all come together in a South African game preserve called Londolozi, the love is so thick you could eat it with a spoon.

Fate didn’t land me in this community. Its members found one another because we share a common vision. Call it “restoring Eden.” The objective is to heal natural systems—from individual human hearts and minds to entire ecosystems. Despite the turbulence of the South Africa’s history, our ideal flourishes here because of the core value of Ubuntu, which means “I am because we are.” Self and other, human and animal, land and life, are not only connected but absolutely interdependent.

I’ve been obsessed with nature since childhood and spent my young adult years studying social systems, desperate to see ways humans might live sustainably on this planet. So I feel more understood here, among fellow Eden-restorers, than I do with many friends, neighbors, even biological family. Sitting with people from all over the planet, watching huge animals relax so close to us we hear them breathing, I feel like I’ve come home.

My path here led through academia into self-help writing. Eventually, I started running seminars at Londolozi, where people from everywhere join me to heal their lives (and then—who knows?—the world). Someone once asked me how I got this incredible job. I’ll tell you: I followed the thread of my own yearning no matter where it led.

I’ve seen this work in thousands of other lives, and I believe it will work in yours. Paradoxically, by committing absolutely to true love—doing what we love, with beings we love, in places we love—we create community. A village forms, sometimes over vast distances. And when that distance shrinks and the village gathers, the power of our connection may change everything.

It might sound crazy to let go of everything you don’t love with your whole heart. I think it’s crazy not to. Such integrity will heal your life, and shine a light into the world to find others who are on your frequency. Gradually the lines between longing and belonging, loneliness and togetherness, one person and one world, will dissolve into that light.

Martha Beck is a best-selling author and life coach. For more from her, go here

This essay was featured in the July 8th edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.