The mountain road winds its way past valleys and gorges at the foot of the Snowy Mountains. I’m breathless in the wake of its beauty, enamoured by the diversity of the country we live in, from the rough-textured sparseness of the outback to snow-scattered mountains and the cities between, framed by oceans of endless contrast.
A thousand kilometres looms ahead of us, one last epic day of travelling to get home. By the time we arrive home late tonight, we’ll have covered 5000km’s in only 10 days – with five of those days being spent in the one place. Which makes for a hell of a lot of driving on the other five days.
But I’ve come to love the drive. It’s the place where time slows down. The place where thoughts are processed, daydreams are free to wander, hearts are awakened through the beauty of landscape, and souls refreshed as we create distance between our every day lives and the undiscovered road ahead. The drive is a gift.
As we weave through low level clouds on mountain tops, I reflect on the last 10 days. I appreciated the Gold Coast experience, and am glad to have given that experience to my children, but in all honesty, my heart was not there like I thought it would be. At some point I realised pieces of it were scattered, left behind in the places we had driven through in the days before we reached our destination – in the harsh outback with its cactus bushes and red dirt, the winding creek beds that flowed through picturesque gum trees, the wild and jagged mountains of the Great Dividing Range.
These were the places that resonated in me, the places my soul yearned for. They felt like home, whereas the Gold Coast and all its glitz and glamour was a strange land, one I was in, but not of. I spent my days there with an element of homesickness. Not necessarily for home, but for the world I now belong to. For it would seem somewhere along the way this city-bred girl has become a lover of the land, a woman of the earth; barefoot on grassy paddocks under star-dusted skies, nomadic and primal and unencumbered.
While away I binge-read The Natural Way Of Things by Australian award-winning author Charlotte Wood. It was one of the most confrontational books I have read, it left me disturbed and unsettled and awake in the middle of the night trying to process it, but in a way an amazing book should. I won’t go into an entire plot here, but for those that have read it, I found myself fascinated with Yolanda and the way her character developed, her primal instincts, her survival skills, the way she found her own strength which led to a freedom the other girls could not comprehend. She had the heart of a warrior, and the more I shed the layers of my old self, the one I was told I had to be, the more I find the same heart beating inside my own chest.
Warrior hearts are strong, independent, unyielding. We don’t need anyone else, we don’t follow any crowds, nor do we follow any rules. We are misunderstood, feared, and often believed to have gone a little mad. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.
And like Yolanda, this can sometimes be a lonely place. We are selective of our tribe, and equally as content without one. My tribe is small and scattered, and while I am mostly at peace with this, it has been the highlight of this trip to have spent time with family, and friends who will always be family, whose presence has left me refreshed and restored, who share the same heart and spirit, who meet me where I’m at and love me there as I am. My tribe. I needed to see them more than I realised.
This trip hasn’t always been ideal. We drove to find warmth and instead bought jumpers and coats as rain made sombre puddles upon grey pavements. I spent two days in bed sweating out a fever and being forced to watch episodes of Top Gear against my will. We spent exorbitant amounts of money on theme park passes that we barely used due to ridiculous school holiday crowds as much as the bad weather.
But there’s still been something wonderful about it, about the drive, about the distance. For with distance comes perspective, and I hadn’t realised how much of that I’d lost of late. The lens had become too close to see the bigger picture, but the further we have driven, the wider my perspective has become. It has been the time and space I’ve needed to reshuffle the pieces of my world that had separated a little, and place them back together in rightful order. Hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs, red and black, numbers aligned.
My world once again makes sense to me. I make sense to me.
Sometimes it just takes some distance to remember who we are.