In today’s episode of “Healing from Within” your host Sheryl Glick welcomes Mike Bond who has been called the master of the existential thriller by the BBC and who joins us today to discuss his book The Last Savannah based on his real-life experiences fighting elephant poachers in Africa which is a continually enormous and escalating problem with more than 1,000 elephants killed in Kenya alone since 2010. Just released is his new book, House of Jaguar, based on his own experiences in the events surrounding the Guatemalan Civil War. These books and others are available in Barnes and Nobles bookstores, Amazon and as ebooks.
Mike Bond who is a bestselling novelist, environmental activist, adviser to U.S and foreign governments, international energy expert, war and human rights correspondent and award winning poet who has lived and worked in remote, dangerous parts of the world, including thirty countries on six continents and has been a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Montana and a former anchor for the PBS new program, “European Journal” will share his unparalleled experiences as a human rights advocate along with his views on environmental issues including elephant slaughter and species decline in Africa, worldwide habitat loss, whales, wolves, seals, and many endangered species along with ideas on renewable energy and climate change. In Mike’s early life, he hiked more than 50,000 miles-twice the circumference of the earth-in North and South America, New Zealand, Mongolia, Russia, Africa, Spain and France. At the age of nineteen, during the Algerian revolution, Mike took off on foot across the Sahara experiencing the euphoria and terror of wandering across the uncharted desert mountains from Tamanrasset to Timbuktu. Sheryl was amused when she read of Timbuktu. To many, the name Timbuktu sounds like a nepharous romantic place that may not even be real but a figment of a wild imagination. As romantic and exotic are the locations that Mike has visited, he as an inquisitive and adventuresome person completely resembles the ancient concept of the Vitruvean Man of the Middle Ages. It seems Mike’s interests cross artistic, mechanical, technical, and the Spiritual and Physical realms all the interests of a well rounded human being in search of higher truth or awareness. In similar fashion “Healing From Within” goes in search of these same multi dimensional concepts delving into an interest study of human nature and the influences that mold our development.
In Mike’s fictional story, The Last Savanna, we first met former SAS officer “Ian Mac Adam who is wearing his retirement like an ill fitting suit. Uncomfortable at home, on his Kenyan ranch watching his wife slip into alcoholism, he accepts an assignment by an old government friend to hunt the one creature that is truly worth hunting—man. Leading a team of commandos against Ivory poaches, he is horrified to learn that these criminals have kidnapped the young archeologist who still has an unexpected grip on his heart. Soon he is on a desperate trek to rescue Rebecca—and perhaps, himself.”
The themes most represented in Mike’s novel are; 1. Our spiritual connection to nature is a main theme and a large part of the journey to becoming spiritually aware. Our realization and appreciation of our surroundings trees, mountains, animals, rainfalls- brings us to our higher selves. There are few people on the planet more in tune with nature and it’s spiritual power than Mike Bond. 2 The theme of love on all levels is represented in all his novels as it is the ultimate goal of the soul to resonate with compassion, forgiveness and love for Life on all levels. 3. An important theme is aging and how to find creativity and love at this time of life when grown children are on their own. It may be necessary to reassess the marriage and our own needs if it is to remain viable. 4. Perhaps addictions and the limiting of joy through denial and repression is another theme. 4. Still, another theme may be the loss of interest in love and the sexual or physical aspect of the relationship. We become aware that over time this energy often fades. We may realize that blaming another person for the lack or loss of interest or passion is not the answer. Often the death of joy and the renunciation of our heart needs or soul needs are the true reason for this loss of interest and concern. Passion for life needs to be a personal goal and responsibility.
Ian Mac Adam is an interesting main character in The Last Savannah. He is an educated and a privileged man from Europe who has chosen to leave behind his heritage and culture to live in a primitive remote land where so many around him are suffering the indignities of poverty, ignorance and a less evolved lifestyle. He is also distrusted by many of the locals as an outsider and as a white man. Of course this is not a scenario that is limited to this country or set of circumstances. There is still an inequality due to different cultures, social structures, and economic and political influences everywhere in the world.
Ian tries to describe his love for Africa and says, “Once bitten like Malaria you can never shake it. Africa teaches to have no attachments, to see the world as it passes, not siding with lion or gazelle but the need of nature and the strongest to survive. The natives believed God is in the land, the trees, the mountains, the animals, the sky, the rivers and the rain and the missionaries who came said God would free us of our sins but in destroying the land and the natural way of life they killed a part of God. Medicine without birth control allowed the weak to live, populations to explode, and the limitless savannas and jungles to be destroyed along with the natural way and order of life in Africa.”
In regard to his thoughts on aging and reaching a new cycle of his life, Mike writes, “Have I reached the age where nothing is enough. What else is there”. Sheryl suggests that she herself, at the age of 42 realized as far as her material presence in the world she had achieved what was expected, a family, a home, a career travel opportunities yet she felt something was missing. Sheryl’s heart actually hurt and it wasn’t a physical pain at all. Like Ian, Mike’s main character, a maturing soul discovers that by living life within the framework and values of society, one may very well lose their intuitive individual sense of why they are alive at all, and then it is necessary to begin the search for their true identity and the spiritual path they are meant to walk.
Mike goes on to explain, “When you’re young it’s so easy – perhaps you love danger and change. But once you test yourself, face fire you never have to doubt again…Then you see courage is so little. In any case you may realize you have no danger, no risk, no joy because you are stuck and not experiencing.” Sheryl asks Mike, “Might you have meant here perhaps you are no longer experiencing the joy of your soul’s freedom which is all about greater love, compassion on a Universal and large scale involvement? Sheryl thinks that still a larger theme in The Last Savannah is the importance and value of experiencing maturity and retaining an awe and enthusiasm for life, regardless of physical age.
Another character who Ian is quite spiritually and emotionally connected to is Nehemiah, an African government official, and as they discusses the political and military situation remark, “The Rwandan are massacring each other again, and the northern Sudan Moslems are killing the Southern Christians, the CIA is spreading war between the Ethiopians and the Ugandans are disemboweling one another”. Sheryl believes these are themes of prejudice, war and power issues which are all too prevalent and happening throughout the world.
Mike writes, “The Somalis have been moving northwest into Kenya for over 200 years just like previous tribes before. History shows this endless wandering, peace and war, to and fro across the Channel—we are all nomads. But the stronger keep their territory. The weak give theirs up”. Sheryl says, “Mike, you started the book with the story of a female lion hunting an eland and then the young male lion kills the female lion to eat the kill. Then, a native hunter kills the male lion for his hide which is very valuable, and then the native hunter escapes a pack of wild hyenas, is wounded, and shortly after is killed by another Native from a different tribe who desires possessing the lion hide. Sheryl says “It was painful for me to read and observe this dance of life and death on such a primitive level…fighting for natural resources of the land and now in more modern times fighting for the technological prizes and rewards of the material world; money, position, physical comforts and more… of everything: many having much more than they can consume and the general masses having not enough to survive.
Sheryl asks Mike the next and most important question many of us grapple with at this time…“How can civilized humane people balance the injustices in the world or have we yet approached the time when we can become humane? Sheryl believes we must move forward to A United World…or as Mike writes,” Do nations like Kenya slide back as in post-colonial African times… back into chaos, tyranny, and superstitions of the past and wipe away progress, innovation and a move from a third world life existence to having petrol, medicine, computers, telephones, educational, materials and everything else that separates them from the Stone Age.”
Then, there is the issue of the animals themselves, like the elephants in Mike’s novel being poached for their ivory tusks. The elephants were being killed off like the Mastodon and the giant Rhino before them. In the book Mac Adam says “We can’t stop time” and Nehemiah says ,and this is the key to these problems,…”But you can change the way it goes.” Mac Adam now thinks “The trouble with any war is that what you defend soon doesn’t matter and you always end up killing what you wanted to protect. So do men have to become dinosaurs forgetting there was a time when they respected what they wanted for the world and were willing to find and die for it? As we become older, must we become dinosaurs or go back into our past way of behaving? Or can we be forward thinkers and keep our passion while moving forward?”
Now to the women in the story. There are two main characters: Dorothy Mac Adam and Rebecca, a former love interest of Ian’s. Mac Adam has become very distant from his wife Dorothy and ashamed of Dorothy’s behavior in front of his friend, Nehemiah. Sheryl notes that she sees Dorothy’s behavior in far too many women of today… Self-absorption and limited interests in the world…Mac Adam describes it this way “But my shame’s why she drinks. He realizes. He remembers her years back, kissing the kids into bed, her rough loving voice.” “Her drinking was the wall between her and herself.”
Sheryl feels Mike’s descriptions of the problems in Ian and Dorothy’s relationship is representative of many failing marriages worldwide and no one has expressed it quite as clearly as Mike Bond..an excellent writer who is able to articulate the emotions and feelings that lie deep within the problems of male- female interactions.
Getting back to the exciting unfolding of the storyline, we find out more about Ian as he walks into his house preparing to leaving for a dangerous mission with Nehemiah. While in the house, the reader may observe” a rifle and cartridges and see Ian’s many books, primal wall hanging of animals who no longer exist and tons of paperbacks with haughty titles and Ian wonders, as do we as the reader, why authors scribble…don’t they know that a life without action, a life not lived out deeply in the unreasoned essence of itself is worthless.” This is another important theme of this book. For some of us, giving up our dreams and adventures is akin to a living death.
Struggle, change, and the law of survival of the fittest as well as love and losing yourself within a relationship are important issues that Rebecca Ian’s former girlfriend finally notices as a result of being captured, held for ransom, and then later as Ian risks his life to rescue Rebecca from rebel groups.
During the time of her capture, Rebecca observes a thought she has about self-pity, which she believes only makes things worse…”You’ll only survive if you think everything out and are lucky and stay strong and never waste time or sorrow on yourself. Only if you promise yourself nothing will defeat you, you’ll never give up and never lose faith.” Sheryl remarks, this is similar to a spiritual concept that the mind or thought rules the body…the body believes what the mind tells it to.
When Rebecca rekindles an intimate relationship with Ian, he notices several truisms about love, fear, and the human problems between men and women. Ian says to her “I’d have rather been with you. Hasn’t that been true for years…you bring it out of me love and the refusal to lie about it.” But Ian also knew written on her face a harsh docility that would turn her from any man she loved. In her hunger to be free, she’d always be alone. Both Rebecca and Ian finally realize that if they had a very long time together they might learn to give themselves freely to each other, but they had to understand that perhaps they had been rejecting this urge to love out of the fear of being rejected, which is the way we all limit ourselves from truly giving and loving…totally.
Sharing certain illuminating insights into human emotions and the drives that bring out the best and worst in our interactions with our fellow travelers on the journey of self-discovery: love, fear and the need for surviving in a world of conflicting possibilities makes this life journey challenging yet exciting. In the duality between spirit and physical life, we learn that freedom of the soul is perhaps the only reality worthwhile. As Mike writes in the final chapter, “Humans in their groping inessential cruelty seemed not evil, but subjects of an infinite condolence. Ian smiled up at her appreciating him and in the beauty of the slanting sun against her hair thought I could share her with a thousand men, share her with all life. Nothing would matter. “I don’t care I’m free.” Sheryl says it seems Mike and I, and we hope for our listeners that the focus should not be on finding love in one person or in one place, not in one experience or in all our enterprises…the focus must be on finding the truth within that leads to acceptance, allowing, and surrendering to all that is and to live with joy.
Guest: Mike Bond
Mike Bond = http://mikebondbooks.com/