“I think when you are truly stuck, when you have stood still in the same spot for too long, you throw a grenade in exactly the spot you were standing in, and jump, and pray.
It is the momentum of last resort.”
― Robyn Davidson, Tracks : One Woman’s Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback
Five days on the road and the least we can say is that I do not really enjoy it. Yet I think I was ready to do THE road trip that most backpackers do: drive away for a week, a month, to discover the country. This is the ultimate trip, according to the vast majority of young adults traveling. Just ride and go exploring a good part of the country. Life on the road, free, without ties, to the rhythm of the sun. But it does not work for me. I do not know if I like this way of traveling. Too many kilometers to do, too many tourist stops. Two hours drive. Stop for about thirty minutes to go see a beach / lake / national park (choose what you want) that must not be missed. The lake is supposed to be of an impressive pink color. The beach of white sand never seen. And the national park would offer breathtaking views. Except that when I’m there, the lake is dry, it is cloudy on the beach and the national park is filled with young tourists who destroy the ecosystem and tranquility. 200 km more and stop again to go for a ride of two hours in another place not to be missed. The ride takes me longer than expected and here I am chasing after time to find a free camp before it’s dark. I have not had the time to work on my blog, or to do meditation or Tai Chi and the photos of the day are banal due to a lack of creativity.
Since I resigned from Arkaroola (Outback Resort where I worked in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia) almost two months ago, I do not feel well. Yes, it was not working well in Arkaroola, problems with the manager, that’s why I resigned but at least I had the feeling of having a goal, to follow a thread. Since I left, I feel dissociated, without goals and depressed. Ohlala, not really what you want to hear from someone on the other side of the world. Should it not be fantastic experiences, bustling with friends and parties on the beach? Well, no. There’s nothing you can do against, things that are not right, we drag them with us wherever we go. And then, I’m not traveling. Or at least not traveling as most people think, with an end date and return to work to save for retirement. No, it’s been two years since I traveled and beyond the two-three weeks before me I have no idea what the future holds. My life for now is a nomadic life. No exact address. No security. I follow jobs and opportunities from country to country. But I like it. And theses past few months I started to try to concentrate on my plans, my blog, to change my diet, to live more ecological and simpler and to feel better (meditation, tai chi and thoughts). I try to focus on the goals that are important and that define me.
But paradoxically I always want to go explore every nook and cranny of Australia. And this is especially what happens during this road trip. Part of me is focused on accomplishing my goals, my routine, working on my projects during the day. And the other is focused on going to see all the supposedly unmissable places. Not to mention the driving time in the middle. And inevitably, it does not work. The places I visit are nothing special and leave me unmoved and I do not have time to follow my goals properly. Every morning, mid-day and evening revolve around only one thing: running after time. And I feel empty and without motor. So this is it. I must make it clear. It. does. not. work. Wake up, Claire! Listen to your subconscious that tries to convince your mind of what it believes to be true: that the experience and the satisfaction we get from it do not come from the number of places we visit. That one can spend one year in Australia (or in any country) in the same place and come out grow and changed. And that we can spend a year to visit the whole country, to do superficial tourism and come back disappointed. The number of places visited does not matter. Only the experience that results is important. My subconscious is probably right. But my mind conditioned by today’s society is always looking for more. And I have a hard time changing it.
But does this road trip is not working because I do not adapt enough to my environment? Of course on the road (whether by car, bike or on foot), it is more difficult to follow a well-defined routine. At “home” everything is simpler, at your fingertips. On a road trip in my little Toyota Hilux, everything takes more time. You have to pack and unpack things every morning and night, the ground is not necessarily very comfortable for my morning workout, I can not cook the way I want it, the other campers around are noisy and disrespectful .. But am I complicating things too much? Should I not take all this in a more relaxed way? Should I live more simply? Take it easy, man! Waking up when I feel it, driving around and stopping when I feel like it, spending hours relaxing on a beach, sipping coffee (or something else, because I do not like coffee) at a terrace of a bistro and watching people go by. But this kind of life so simple and so carefree (in a positive sense), I can not do it. Not right now. It’s been years that I live under stress and my daily lists of things to do. My days revolve around a time race and about twenty things to do. But I can not do it anymore. I’m sick of living like this. I want to change. So as I said above, since a few weeks now I have been trying to follow a daily routine centered on meditation, Tai Chi, physical exercises and concentration on the present moment. And I try to simplify my days. I try to change and feel better. But even that is difficult. It’s crazy how to change bad habits is a battle of every moment. I feel like I do not do enough. While doing too much. Stress and race after time are still there. But I try to relativize. And to adapt myself a bit more to my environment.
One wonders what I do in Australia. This is also what I am wondering a bit theses recent weeks. Why after two years of travel, when things are not going great, I do not go back to France? Everything would be simpler, more comfortable. But would it be? Really ? Whether I’ll in Australia or France, it will be the same. My ill-being will be the same. And then return would be synonymous of failure, of choice by default. Staying and fight is the right solution I think. I have to face my problems. And also because I want to continue on the path that I am starting to follow. Because I feel like I’m starting to touch something important. In the idea of traveling, of nomadic lifestyle, in my search for learning of different cultures, in my relationship to the present. I have trouble expressing what I feel and what I am trying to say. But I have the impression to see the small glow at the end of the tunnel. To see (still vague for now) the thread, the driving power that I seek for so many years. This feeling of living for something.
I want to turn my trip into something more than just a tourist trip. Or a trip between friends. Already because today, I find it senseless. And also because I find it more difficult to support contact with the thousands of young backpackers present in all tourist areas of the country. The way of life, chill, makeup, relax on the beach, endless chatting, night clubbing, marshmallow around the fire and smoke at the entrance of the hostel, it was never for me. And it is even less so now. Shit. Am I getting older? Am I turning myself into a cavewoman? I do not know. Maybe on the contrary I am finally understanding what makes sense, what is important for me… What I know is that at the moment I prefer to be alone or in contact with the locals. The vast majority of tourists, they are too far from me. The goals are not the same. On the Great Ocean Road where I am right now and like everywhere else in the world, the tourists parade in uninterrupted files to go see the “attractions”. Cheese. Click. Picture. And we go again. No one has read the explanatory details, no one has really looked at the landscape. Young people ignore the signs of not going beyond the limits. They go walking on the cliffs in search of the ultimate selfie. Dangerous and disrespectful. Like the majority of tourists today. I’m sick of it. This big circus of mass tourism, it makes me want to throw up. Or cry.
Often, I feel apart. The vast majority of people struggle to accept that I do not live the same way as they do. We know very well that the difference is scary. To deviate from the norm has always been difficult to be accepted. The majority of people often seek to impose their way of life, their behavior to others. Yet I am not an eccentric and I do not live in a completely crazy way. No, my differences are small, simple things that people say and do not even realize why their reflexions hurt me. This mainly concerns alcohol consumption, diet and the search for loneliness. I do not drink alcohol. I never drank (okay, one or two glasses when I was a little younger, but that’s all) and I do not intend to start. You do what you want with your drinking, I do not judge you but I do not drink. It is bad for health and especially it is, for me, meaningless. I do not see the point of drinking. So as people are always shocked when I say that I do not drink, I feel compelled to justify saying that I do not like the taste of wine and that I do not like fizzy drinks. Which is true but which is not the first reason. I have the right to a lot of comments (“You’re French and you do not drink wine!”, “Are you sure you do not want a drink?”, “A little drink, Claire? Others are drinking! “) or disdainful movements from the hand like:” do not bother, she does not drink “.
It’s the same with the diet. Especially at this time and especially in Australia at the locals. I try to eat less and less meat and fat products. No, I am not becoming vegetarian or vegan. I’m just looking to go back to a healthier diet, more suited to the body. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, carbohydrates especially and sometimes a little bit of fish or meat. “You’re not a vegetarian, you’re vegan then!”, “Wait, but you told me you did not eat meat, why do you eat chicken?”, Etc. Why do I have to constantly justify my food choices? You eat as you want and I make my own choices! Why do others need to put me in a specific classification? I am not a vegetarian, nor vegan, I am a person who tries to eat healthy. That’s all.
The third example concerns the search for solitude. The definition of an activity for me do not involve: sunbathing on the beach, jet-skiing on a lake or hiking with music on the ears. What I’m looking for is the great quiet natural areas far from civilization with few people around. I prefer a big hike in nature listening to the birds. I prefer camping in the countryside rather than staying in a youth hostel. I prefer to spend hours marveling at the behavior of birds. I’ve always been a loner and I think I’m slowly starting to think of loneliness as a friend rather than a weight on my shoulders. And I think being alone is important. I am not an individualist, I am just someone who tries to live by herself.
Associate with the non-consumption of alcohol, the healthy food and the search for solitude the fact that I do not smoke, I do not drink caffeine and I do not use hard drugs, people see me as a kind of freak. Yes, I exaggerate but it’s a bit what I feel quite often.
A few days ago I finished reading Robyn Davidson’s book : Track. Her story of traveling alone with camels through the Outback has reasoned in me. Without really knowing what drove her to do that, she left for nine months across Central Australia. She wanted to be alone. She wanted to prove to herself that anyone can do extraordinary things. Her trip is not a tourist trip. It’s an apprenticeship, an inner journey. A quote from her book particularly illustrates what I’m feeling right now: “There are some moments in life that are like pivots around which your existence turns—small intuitive flashes, when you know you have done something correct for a change, when you think you are on the right track”. Well, I think I’m starting to see the way.
The more I think about it and the more I think everything happens for a reason. No, I’m not turning into a fanatic of any religion or believing in destiny, I reassure you. I just think that the universe, life, nature, chance put events, trials, encounters, lessons on our way. And if we know how to follow them and accept to make choices, then the result is often positive. But positive does not mean confortable. Very often the result is not visible right away. It is often several months, even years after I realize that the event, the decision or the meeting I made has had a positive impact on my live. Anyway it’s what happened to me. I am someone who doubts a lot. But looking back, analyzing the events or decisions that impacted my life well I would say that in the end they allowed me to move forward positively. It is often difficult to think positive in a situation of difficulty and depression, but trusting that everything happens for a reason and knowing how to make the right choices, in the end there is no reason to worry too much. I must let things follow their course. It is highly likely that the resignation of Arkaroola and all the turmoil that has resulted has happened for a reason. Probably to push me to finally change and evolve in my vision of travel and nomadic life.
So this is it. There are a lot of questions and disappointments in my mind right now and I needed to put them on paper (virtual). It’s confusing and maybe a bit rough but that’s what I feel today. But do not be alarmed (Dad, Mom, I know what you’re going to say), I feel like I’m heading for the light. From now on, rather than continue in a way that hurts me or follow bad habits, I will focus on what I care about and want to accomplish. I will leave tourism to tourists and follow a nomadic life filled with enriching experiences, testimonies and learning, simple and respectful and in contact with nature. Or in any case I will try! And to finish on a positive note with another quote from Robyn Davidson, with whom I seem to have a connection right now:
“you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be.”