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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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On The Couch: Belly laughs and a beautiful cry

Published Nov 6, 2021


HEAVENS to Betsy, we all need a laugh, and a good cry.

There’s a lot of misery going around ‒ it does love company, after all ‒ and I confess to being lured there by the magnitude of things that are wrong with the world at the moment.

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Granted, a few things have tweaked the outer reaches of my mouth a millimetre, but most in wry bafflement or cynical agreement. I certainly have not made any bulk contributions to the multitude of “laughter lines” on my fizzog.

Recently, however, a video injured my tummy muscles and crinkled my face. I think I should sue.

It felt SO good to literally LOL, and more than once. I watched it many times and laughed just as hard each time.

The video was taken by Instagram user sabrewildlife on a game drive in the Sabi Sands.

The backstory was that a leopard had hoisted an impala way up in a tree for her cub to feed, and had returned to rest on the grass beneath the tree. A cub tucked in, sticking to one spot and severing part of the animal.

The video showed the impala dropping to the ground, narrowly missing the mom, but clearly giving her the fright of her life. She rocketed up into the air and seemed to fly 10 metres before landing again. And then, as patiently as all natural mothers, she hauled it back up.

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The fall-and-fly sequence was just seconds, but the reaction was so funny it made me laugh a real jiggly laugh. The description may not make you smile ‒ it was one of those you-had-to-be-there moments ‒ but if you need a laugh, look for it on Instagram.

Of course, no one would laugh if it hit and injured the mom (an impala can weigh up to 60kg), but it was made clear no one was hurt.

The crying bit came when I was moved to tears by the story of wilderness guide Sicelo “Black Lion” Mbatha, whose book extract and story we featured last week.

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I hate crying and seldom do. My eyes hurt for days and it’s just draining. But reading Mbatha’s book really touched a nerve. If I had my way, I’d make every single person in the world read it. Specially those at COP26.

Billions of words, in books and in documentaries, have been used to describe the natural world and instruct us on why we need it.

But Mbatha’s storytelling invokes a fireside in the wild, with glowing eyes of hyena and lion and owl, and all the accompanying sounds, around you. The glow of the stars and smell of the soil and breeze rustling through the trees.

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On a bush walk, you feel the heightened alertness and the joy of being alive and tapping in to the healing the wilderness gives.

It also describes one man’s determination, no matter the unfairness and obstacles he faced, to make his way in the only world he wanted to live in ‒ and share with anyone open to its lessons, even if they are not aware they need those lessons for the health of their souls.

Please read it; it’s beautiful and as soul-restoring as a good laugh.

  • Lindsay Slogrove is the news editor.

The Independent on Saturday

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