#571: Boyd Varty — The Lion Tracker’s Guide to Life | The Tim Ferriss Show

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Key Takeaways

  • Animal tracking may be the origins of the scientific method, it was the beginning of deductive reasoning the art form of applying meaning
    • The principles of tracking should also be applied to your life as well – constantly look for and acknowledge information that attunes you with your inner self
    • “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate” – Boyd Varty quoting Carl Jung
  • “I don’t know where we’re going, but I know exactly how to get there”Renias Mhlongo
    • The balance of not allowing your profound commitment to become a burden
    • All you need to do is find the next track – another moment of knowing
    • This knowledge transcends across skills and disciplines
  • Lessons from spending 40 days alone in a tree:
    • Where your attention goes, your life goes
    • Spending time in a single spot in nature becomes deeply personal
    • True fear is a rare experience in modern life
  • “The more time you spend in nature, the more you realize how little we know”Boyd Varty
    • Ubuntu – you learn about yourself through your encounters with the world
    • Sometimes you have to let go of your rational consciousness and let nature take you to a place you can’t go on your own

Intro

The Varty Family & Londolozi Game Reserve

  • Londolozi Game Reserve – private game reserve In South Africa where Boyd takes Tim’s zoom call from
  • The property was Boyd’s grandfather’s before he passed away – Boyd’s father fought to keep the land in the family and started a safari with three mud huts and a broken Land Rover
    • His whole family grew up lion hunting – they knew if they let go of the land, they may lose the memory of Boyd’s grandfather
    • ‘Get on with it’ – the family used this phrase to push the safari to success, even though there really wasn’t a market for it at the time

Native Shangaan Trackers

  • The Shangaan wanted to be a peaceful community, so broke away from the aggressive rule of Zulu
    • They are incredible trackers: known for their observation skills and story-telling
    • Check out a brief history on the Shangaan people, compliments of the Londolozi blog
  • Boyd in his youth was an apprentice to the expert Shangaan trackers
    • “Learned to be attuned to the language of the wilderness” – Boyd Varty
    • This transitioned the Londolozi safari business from track-to-hunt into track-to-observe

Renias Mhlongo

  • Renias Mhlongo is known as one of Africa’s pre-eminent tackers, top five in the world according to Boyd
    • “My definition of mastery is someone who can be themselves in any situation” – Boyd Varty
  • “I don’t know where we’re going, but I know exactly how to get there”Renias Mhlongo
    • Renias can fluently translate and teach the intangibles of tracking – tying meaning to the location of a footprint for example
    • The balance of not allowing your profound commitment to become a burden
    • All you need to do is find the next track – another moment of knowing
    • This knowledge transcends across skills and disciplines

Tracking & The Meaning of Life

  • Tracking may be the origins of the scientific method, its was the beginning of deductive reasoning the art form of applying meaning
    • The principles of tracking should also be applied to your life – constantly look for and acknowledge information that attunes you with your inner self
    • “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate” – Boyd Varty quoting Carl Jung
  • The successful art form of tracking naturally creates safety – excellent trackers can convey presence through non-verbal communication with the animals, and vice versa
    • Lions have a strict pattern of behavior to communicate displeasure with your presence; a tracker must communicate back that they do not have bad intentions
    • They carry a rifle while guiding tourists but have never had to use it – the trackers don’t carry a weapon without tourists
  • Leopards are the most difficult to track
    • The leopard is solitary, walks lightly, and operates in thick-terrain
    • “Whenever you see a leopard, the leopard is allowing you to see it” – Boyd Varty

Lessons from 40 Days in a Tree

  • Where your attention goes, your life goes
    • When you put your attention on living things, there’s more aliveness in your life
  • Spending time in a single spot in nature becomes deeply personal
    • You become attuned and orientated with the patterns and interlocking intelligences within nature
    • “The more time you spend in nature, the more you realize how little we know” – Boyd Varty
  • True fear is a rare experience in modern life
    • Boyd details a treacherous storm he had to embrace
    • He was overwhelmed with humility and an understanding of the fragility of life

Ubuntu Philosophy

  • Ubuntu – the universal bond shared across humanity, translated as “I am because we are”
  • The western world often is misguided in their search for meaning – associating meaning by comparison. If you grow up in Africa or in nature, you associate meaning through relation. You learn about yourself through your encounters with the world.
  • Sometimes you have to let go of your rational consciousness and let nature take you to a place you can’t go on your own
    • Boyd describes an encounter with a leopard where he felt this overwhelming sense of connection

Trauma & Healing

  • A person who is dealing with trauma has a reduction of options
    • You’re frozen – traumatized people often resort to retreating and isolating
  • Ceremony spaces are healing opportunities: AA, sweat lodges, shared plant medicine experiences
    • Helps you understand and openly share your traumas
    • These experiences can alter your personal narrative, viewing the trauma from a new perspective
    • Boyd struggled with immense trauma from a crocodile attack – he describes a sweat lodge experience where he passed out and thought he was dying but the guide assured him: “you’re not dying brother, you’re just being born”
  • The Work of Byron Katie – simple process of remaining alert to and questioning stressful thoughts – knowing how to diffuse the emotional boiling point
    • It’s very powerful to have a system for handling and processing your thoughts
  • Ask yourself: Who am I when I believe that thought? Who would I be without the thought?
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Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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