I was always an avid reader of master-disciple stories, when one learns from a mysterious shaman or wise man/woman who shares profound insights and visions. I wanted this to happen to me, so I asked. And I received. Synchronicity brought Sotigui, an African griot from Mali, into my life, and I discovered the bliss of learning from a very wise man who carried with him the knowledge of thousands of years, a culture different from my own and a joy that was impossible not to feel in his presence. One of the things he always said was, “don’t force things. Don’t try to work on them so hard before their time, they will push back as hard as you did.” That was difficult to understand. I thought we were supposed to do precisely that in life, push as hard as we can…
He often added: “Avoid hastiness.” He said that with a calm, soothing tone that made me think about the village he described before his life in Paris. I imagined a slower pace and I felt an inner peace just thinking about it. More often than not, I had just hopped off the metro, hurrying up to keep up with the human sea pouring in and out, already thinking about my next appointment and I’m not even close to a type A, more like a type W or Z!
My head was spinning from the constant rush, an inevitable consequence of living in a metropolis… Or so I thought, until I walked the street and metro corridors with Sotigui and realized he was just as calm and composed as he was in his living room, sipping tea.
“You must miss Africa a lot. Do you have to go there often to resource?”, I once asked him during one of our numerous tea-pow wows in the Parisian suburb of Les Lilas. He thought for a moment, and said:
“I take Africa with me everywhere I go.” From his tone and the expression on his face, I could tell it was exactly how he felt. It wasn’t a figure of speech or an image designed to soothe homesickness, it was an actual fact. That’s how he could remain so calm and focused amidst urban chaos. His energy was stronger, more stable than that of the city surrounding him. And what he loved, he not only took everywhere with him, but shared generously. It was such a different outlook on life, letting it unfold and approaching it with patience, from ones own grounded center. Allowing things to happen. Allow almost sounds like “a-law”… It is actually the law that can bring into our life what has been eluding us. Where the Will has failed miserably and repeatedly, the law of Allow may succeed.