Walking With Lions – Zimbabwe 2006

So what is this blog all about and why “Onward?” Allow me to explain…

In early September of this year I will begin a seven-month odyssey to Africa and Asia… volunteering at various animal sanctuaries and just getting OUT THERE. It’s actually a bit of a pilgrimage. Not the religious sort. More of a long journey to pay homage to endangered animals … and, really, to myself and this “one wild and precious life” I’ve been given.

The “onward” bit, well, it’s just my thing. I’ve been saying and writing this word for years … likely hundreds of times … in emails and texts and other blog posts. It was my mantra when I was dealing with breast cancer. Back then – five years ago – I stumbled upon the word in a favorite quote (by Barbara Kingsolver) and it stuck:

“Every one of us is called upon, perhaps many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job…And onward full-tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another–that is surely the basic instinct…Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.” 

Onward is the word I think about or write when I can’t think of anything else to think about or write. In times of trouble … onward. When I don’t know how to take the next step … onward. When I’m waffling or hesitating about doing something that scares the shit out of me … onward. Momentum. Move forward. Don’t stop.

This word, and the fact that I’ve been employing this MO of ceaseless forward movement for years, is what helped me make the decision to take this trip … to do something many may call crazy or impractical or who-knows-what. So … here I go. In approximately seven weeks I’ll be on a plane, traveling about 30 hours to get back to the lions of Zambia and then onto the dolphins in Zanzibar, the elephants in Cambodia and hopefully many other critters along the way (Gibbons in Laos anyone?). I can’t hardly wait.