Somewhere deep inside, you know what your gift, purpose, and mission are. Boyd Varty, a lion tracker and life coach, reveals how the wisdom from the ancient art of tracking can teach you how to recognize these essential ingredients in a meaningful life. Know how to navigate, don’t worry about the destination, and stay alert. These are just a few of the strategies that contribute to both successful lion tracking and a life of fulfillment. When we join Boyd Varty and his two friends tracking lions, we are immersed in the South African bush, and, although we learn some of the skills required for actual tracking, the takeaways are the strategies that can be applied to our everyday lives. Trackers learn how to use all of their senses to read the environment and enter into a state of “greater aliveness.” When we learn to find and follow our inner tracks, we learn to see what is deeply important to us. In the same way the trip in the classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a vehicle to examine how to live out our values, the story of this one-day adventure—with danger and suspense along the way—uses the ancient art of tracking to convey profound lessons on how to live a purposeful, meaningful life of greater harmony.
The Book in 3 ‘Sentences’
- Boyd Varty, a lion tracker and life coach, combines his learnings in both the modern and wild natural worlds to teach us a powerful lesson on how the ancient art of tracking (yes, tracking wild animals) can guide us to have more meaningful lives. As Varty puts it: “The unbroken stream of life that animates all things is supremely intelligent, and nothing in the wild needs a coach to help it discover what it truly is. If we had lost our way in the modern world—our sense of value, direction, and belonging—it was because we had lost contact with something more instinctual, more innate.”
- Life is full of information, however it’s on us to train ourselves to see what we are looking for. Unfortunately, our modern world today is continuously sucking our attention outwards - everything in the natural world knows how to be itself, so turn your attention inwards by exploring our wild self. Find what puts you into your essence, no matter how small, and play with it, lose the track, keep trying.
- Nature doesn’t care about your “plan”, it doesn’t care about your status or wealth or social position. It only cares about your presence and how you respond to the randomness of life. There is no social conditioning in nature. The answer to “who am I?” changes. Once you can learn how to be present in the process of your own transformation, rather than fixating on being transformed through some conditioned goals you’ve been taught, you will find greater pleasure in life.
Wow, where to start. I recently came across Boyd Varty on the Tim Ferriss podcast, where I listened to the entire 2+ hour episode straight because of how far-fetched and absurd Boyd’s stories were. He was recounting times from his childhood and life that us city folks could not even begin to comprehend, while telling it with a deep, humbling authenticity. Tim went on to say that The Lion Tracker’s Guide to Life is one of his most gifted books - which is saying a lot if you’ve ever heard his take on consuming & sharing books. After hearing that, I immediately went onto my Kindle and purchased a copy, finishing it shortly after - it’s only ~100 pages, a quick read.
One thing I’ve noticed about the shorter books I’ve read, is that they tend to have one main point they are trying to communicate. They might explain it through different lenses, but they’re much more direct how they communicate it. This was not the case for this book. Due to the nature (no pun intended) of the book and what Boyd is trying to communicate, it really leaves you with so much to think about.
The book combines live story telling, historical context, and how it all relates to a greater message he is trying to communicate in such a smooth way. If you have a few hours on a weekend at some point, I highly recommend picking up a copy, heading to a spot in nature, and refreshing some of your views on life by getting lost in the world of the wild savannah with Boyd Varty.
This has by far been one of my favourite books I have ever read.
Who Should Read It❓
There is not a single person I would not recommend this book to.
How the Book Changed Me 💯
- I get out into nature a lot more and really appreciate the little intricacies of Mother Nature’s genius
- I am trying to enjoy the process of growth in my professional career instead of fixating on my end ‘goals’
- I have always kind of been this way, but I really listen to my body when it is trying to tell me something
- As someone with mild OCD I’m learning to be more comfortable with chaos. Sometimes life doesn’t care about my ‘plan’ or ‘perfection’
- I’ve really been absorbing the fact that we are all outcomes of our cultures & social conditioning. Everyone I know and love in my life have all been conditioned in similar ways at this point. I want to travel and connect with the natural world at a deeper level. And no, I don’t mean doing mushrooms in a forest
- As someone who cares a lot about wealth and having money, I have had many deep sessions of thought where I challenged myself in this regard. What do I really want?
- A new motto of mine “Be the river”. Here’s Boyd Varty on rivers in nature:
My Top 5 Quotes 🗣
Sometimes the body will have to get sick before we will listen to what it is saying to us.
We have become so unnatural and patterned and socialized that some of us don’t even know what feels good or bad. We operate on autopilot. We are in our lives, but we are not alive.
Humility is the liberation from illusions of dominance, control, and power. I give up the importance of my life to instead become a part of life.
It is a kind of energy I have witnessed in people who have merged “work,” “mission,” and “meaning.” These people don’t take holidays or need days off. They outwork everyone not from some kind of gritty determination, but from a place of pure pleasure.
Everything in the natural world knows how to be itself. Trees know how to greet the spring with buds, and bees are drawn naturally to flowers. Leopards from birth know they are keepers of solitude, while lions are made for the pride. We are a part of nature, and inside each of us is a wild self that knows deeply what it is meant to do. Inside each of us is a natural innate knowledge of why we are here. Tracking is a function of directing attention, bringing our awareness back to this subtle inner trail of the wild self, and learning to see its path. Yet most of us have so much of the social conditioning of modern life that the track of the wild self has been lost. We live with our attention directed outward. We focus on the social cues of our culture. We look to others to define our path and value and purpose. We lose ourselves in shoulds.