I feel the adventure has just begun....
Someone on a bizarre farm on the Texas-Mexico border once asked me, after hearing about my travels, "What are you running from?" While confronted at the time, I've later realized that absolutely I was running away in the beginning. Running from gray winters, tradition's expectations, boredom -all the obvious things a young idealist can point at and shame.
But a Shift has happened. I don't know if it occurred in the Rocky Mountains, the Arizonan desert, tropical Belize, or exciting Hawaii. However I now know that I no longer running away but am running towards. There is so much more awareness and possibility for positive impact in this Towards state. Traveling became deeper once I let go of the vague "it's just for the experience" mentality. Being 18 meters deep in Great Barrier Reef and watching the psychedelic ocean life harmoniously exist wasn't just "an experience". Feeling the rush of an ancient hot water waterfall in a New Zealand forest wasn't just "an experience".
I've traversed 3 countries this year, and in no way is this a photo album of my life's events. These are moments of Communion with land, people, and culture that are building my spirit and contorting my perception of the world. Which becomes the perception of myself.
A large part of this year for me has been spent in the sun burnt country, Australia. Most world travelers go through the motions of getting a working holiday visa here to cash up for Asia and Indonesia. After my work period was over my partner Freddy and I took a massive road trip through The Outback. The Australian desert takes up most of the country and is home to only 2% of the population. Many times we were 600 kilometers (around 300 miles) between towns, these towns were normally no more than a petrol station, a pub, and a few dusty red locals. Road trips are about the journey, not the destination. But this was the exception! We were headed the Uluru (also known as Ayres Rock) there is virtually nothing till you get there after an intense 2,500 kilometer drive. Uluru is the spiritual pinnacle for Aboriginal culture. Geographically and metaphorically, it is the heart of Australia and is like a Bible to the original people who have been living there for 80,000 years, each crack and crevice has a parable and importance. It is also the largest monolith in the world; a very, very big red rock!
The temperature reaches such frightening heights that hikes can be closed by 9am. This stipulation created a lovely need for night walks. Under the glow of a half moon Fred and I took a silent walk together one night. There was a lightning storm off in the distance over the flat land and every now and then we'd hear a kangaroo hop off. The red desert has an eerie silence. I thought surely, something must happen amongst all that stillness but no, nothing ever did. Only the sound of our shuffling and the sensation of breathing in the hot windless air. The nearest light pollution was at least 2-3 day drive away so the stars shown brightly and plentiful. We watched the Milky Way, it too was spellbound by the deserts stillness. Shooting stars whizzed by and fizzled out.
If felt amazing to reside in that silence -to know that it exists. To observe just how odd it feels to be in an environment that motionless. No matter where we are we mirror our environment. We are so interconnected that usually the energy and emotion going on around us becomes our internal functioning, the vibe permeates to our cells. Being in that place, and being aware enough to know to actively absorb, I can hold on to that red desert feeling forever. Hopefully I can call upon it when internal stillness is required. The road trip has given me not only a great adventure, but also a gage to measure just how quiet I am. I also left with a question to the eeriness that went along with the serene silence: why is it that when all the senses have been dulled, and there's nothing to grab my attention, I suddenly feel there is something standing behind me? Or, that there is something in the landscape just in squinting distance, beyond the shrubs and rocks? What is that? It could be something unexplainable or maybe a kangaroo, a wild emu, or a wandering camel that's been released after it's job was done back when they were building the roads.
Whatever these Australian moments and sensations are, they are more than just experiences. They send ripples through everything and trigger more magic to happen in the next place, it generates me to keep running Towards.
To take this or any adventure from "an experience" to something deeper and longer lasting, requires the traveler to Be Conscious.