What is this ‘flow’ they talk about?

Ideas, concepts, nature and art provoke contemplation in me. I can be occupied for days or weeks in quiet reflection; thoughts mulling about in the background as I go about my daily tasks. I graze and reflect, interpret and try out ideas for myself, finding links and truths, sometimes getting nowhere other times feeling sated by the mere joy of connecting with the brilliance of the original creator of the work.

I read the following idea in Rob Brezsnys’astrological newsletter and made note of it for further thought.

When they say, “Go with the flow,” what “flow” are they talking about? Do they mean the flow of your early childhood conditioning? The flow of your friends’ opinions? The latest cultural trends? Your immediate instinctual needs? When they say, “Go with the flow,” are they urging you to keep doing what’s easiest to do and what will win you the most ego points, even if it keeps you from being true to your soul’s code? Consider the possibility that there are many flows to go with, but only one or some of them are correct for you. Do you know which? Maybe it’s the one flowing in an underground cavern, far from the mad crowd.

My initial ruminations have led me to dismantle this and consider a piece at a time.

When they say, “Go with the flow,” what “flow” are they talking about?

 Good freaking point man.“In flow” too is another curious statement. I’ve always wondered what flow is, even though I’ve used this terminology myself. What do I actually mean?

Do they mean the flow of your early childhood conditioning?

Oh, hell no. That would be freaking disastrous. I would not like that flow. I’ve been trying to leave that ebbing cesspit behind me for most of my recent history, at least 20 years. (Lol. Recent!)

The flow of your friends’ opinions?

Nope. Well, maybe, sometimes. This isn’t always a bad thing. Others can have their opinions, I don’t need to convince them of mine. If I don’t like theirs I don’t have to follow but I don’t have to battle either. If their opinions impinge on my knowledge of what’s right for me then it’s a big no. If it’s about allowing and experiencing something new or different, then yeah, maybe that’s an okay flow to go with.

The latest cultural trends?

I’m not into trends or fads or fashions. So, no.

Your immediate instinctual needs? 

Perhaps this is it. The key here would be to separate self-indulgence from instinct but if we feel something is right why not go with it? This might actually cause a flow state.

When they say, “Go with the flow,” are they urging you to keep doing what’s easiest to do and what will win you the most ego points, even if it keeps you from being true to your soul’s code? 

Well, clearly not. Why would you? Do I do this? Umm, yeah, maybe I do what’s easy sometimes but ego points? I don’t understand that. I don’t consciously do anything that would keep me from my soul code. I think that’s all part of becoming aware and conscious. I strive to unlock my true self, my psychic abilities, my talents. I don’t want to stay away from them any longer. I want to move toward and into them now. Yes, there are triggers and behaviours and habits I am trying to unlock and dissolve so I can come into myself more fully. There is talk of peeling back the layers of the onion. But what’s at the centre? Anything? What happens when there are no more layers? It’s all learning and all part of the magnificent course of life. Maybe this, right now, is the me I am meant to be, the suffering and the joy, the stumbling, the getting up and moving forward are all part of it.

Consider the possibility that there are many flows to go with, but only one or some of them are correct for you. Do you know which?

This statement I agree with. There clearly is more than one flow. We need to be aware of the flow we choose to go with and aware of the consequences. Sometimes there is no harm in catching a ride, just know when to get off. Choose flow that aligns with your heart. Hop on a current that scares you occasionally to see where it leads. Let your heart and intuition guide choice here, I think.

           Maybe it’s the one flowing in an underground cavern, far from the mad crowd.

Anything away from the maddening crowds sounds good to me. The forest. The beach. A mountain top.

What flow will I choose today? The flow of my heart I think.

What does flow mean to you? Have you caught a particularly interesting current lately?

 

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My polyester castle in the forest

My whinstone house my castle is, I have my own four walls.
                                                                        Thomas Carlyle

In my plans for this year I resolved to go on a solo overnight hike. I decided to experience life this year through being more adventurous, for me anyway.  Sometimes adventure is simply venturing out the front door and going some place new and sometimes adventure is, well, just what we expect adventure to be: an exploit or escapade.  I’m no newcomer to multi-day hikes but I usually embark on them with my beloved at my side. Going solo, a reckless escapade to some, is to me a compelling  imperative.

I am most at peace in nature and I have a thing for sleeping with my back to the earth, and while I love to share these experiences I want to experience something different.  I want to go it alone, to experience real surrender and solitude and to rely totally on myself, outside the normal routines of life. I am getting closer to my goal each day.

I bought my own tent last week. I’m pretty chuffed. My research turned up a neat little three season tent made for one.  It’s perfect for the walks I want to do but not great for snow and ice but I don’t plan on going to Everest anytime soon. I ordered my tent online and it arrived two days later.  I was bouncing with excitement as I collected my package from the post office. The Postie asked if I was going camping.  I’m doing more than camping.  I’m escaping.

More exhilarating is that I actually managed to erect the tent without help in about three minutes flat.  I known that’s not exactly a huge achievement but when one defers tasks to another on a regular basis it is affirming to know you’re capable.  It’s funny how a little thing like this can cause so much excitement.

My beloved was horrified at its size.
“It’s small.”
Exactly – it’s meant to be.
My polyester castle is roomy enough to sleep in and wriggle in and out of clothes. It’s a shelter from the elements and bugs and best of all, it’s only 1.3 kilograms.  What else would a girl need? Well, as luck would have it, the one other thing that I did want was a vestibule for my hiking pack and voila, this little tent has a very generous space for that.

The weeks draw closer to my first solo overnight hike and I find I am well prepared. I have my tent, my permit and a spirit for adventure. I know roughing it outdoors isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there is something magical about choosing a spot of rough ground to call home for the night that transforms it.  That rough bit of ground, a small nook in the woods, begins to transform into a haven, a place of comfort and rest by the time one has pitched a tent and claimed a spot for the night. For a long time now I have delighted in the solace of nature, the calm it brings and the return to simplicity and I am looking forward to returning to it.  I’ll let you know how it all goes.

 

Pass the popcorn ― how to have more fun

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It’s crazy, waiting for the universe to knock on the door and offer fulfilment on a platter.  ― Shannyn Steel

If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that nobody is here forever. You have to live for the moment, each and every day . . . the here, the now.”    ― Simone Elkeles

I’ve been marking time. Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for something to change. Waiting to find the thing that would propel me into the joyful, purposeful life I’d hoped for. Toward the end of last year the penny dropped and I suddenly understood what I already knew but wasn’t able to acknowledge. It’s crazy waiting for the universe to knock on the door and offer fulfilment on a platter.

After all that waiting I’ve finally twigged that the trick to this whole fulfilment thing is to get out there and do stuff that I want more of in life. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

A startling discovery, made as a result of this brain wave, is that the one thing I want more of in my life right now is not time, not spiritual connection, not more authentic relationships, though that would be nice too. What I want more of in my life right now is fun. Yes, fun. Now don’t get me wrong. My life is not devoid of enjoyment. There are plenty of things that bring me joy; spotting a flower dewy with raindrops; the smell, texture and colour of soggy leaves on the forest floor after a thunderstorm; the smell of freshly cut grass and the sound of kookaburras laughing from the great pine tree in my neighbour’s yard. Those things and more fill me with joy. I also have many pleasant ways to pass the time that would constitute enjoyment too. Long strolls on the beach, reclining with a good book, baking a batch of cookies for my beloved’s lunch. Those things are enjoyable to me. What I’m after is in a whole different category.

Fun to me is more outrageous than enjoyment. It’s buzzy and exciting and perhaps more “in the moment” rather than a slow burn. Do you see the difference?

I have begun gathering a list of big fun and little fun activities in earnest.  Big fun activities are those that may cost a bit of money and require a little planning like indoor skydiving, parasailing, swinging on a trapeze. Little fun is something that could be undertaken on the spur of the moment, is relatively inexpensive and something that could raise the fun factor on any given day. Such as jumping on a swing in the local park and throwing your head back to drink in the sky.

Maybe you’d like to do the same. As ideas come to mind they could be written on a piece of paper, thrown into a big bowl with the intention of pulling an idea from the ‘popcorn’ bowl to infuse life with fun.  I’m going to experience ‘popcorn’ fun weekly and plan big fun, depending on the scale of it, monthly or quarterly. Oh, and I am going to scheduled those big fun activities to give me something to look forward to and to ensure having more  fun becomes a reality rather than a hope, wish or a dream.

Here are some popcorn fun ideas my friend Margaret, a kid at heart who  hasn’t lost sight of how much fun life can be, shared with me to start filling the bowl. I hope you get some ideas to add to your list.

Build a sandcastle or mermaid on the beach.
Water pistol shooting
Play SNAP (the card game)
Bubble blowing
Slide on a flying fox
Chew bubble gum and pop it.
Watch a funny cartoon
Singing in the shower
Dancing nude under the moon
Walk barefooted to the park
Feed the birds
Read Dr Seuss aloud
Pull weird faces and take pictures to replay
Walk on stilts
Dress up as a chicken
Three legged race
Sand dune sliding on cardboard

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You’ll never be disappointed if you always keep an eye on uncharted territory, where you’ll be challenged and growing and having fun.     Kirstie Alley

I celebrated a birthday this week and decided to treat myself. No it wasn’t a BIG birthday, though each birthday is a big bonus. I usually go pretty low-key on my birthday, let it slip by without causing a blip but this year I made plans. I booked in for a skydive.

There’s a small caveat I should add – it was indoor skydiving. I’m not known for being outrageously spontaneous or reckless so I figure you can’t go from zero to 100 right off the bat.

The experience was immensely entertaining and massively good fun. Ten other flyers aged from 4 through to late 60’s arrived for a morning of high-speed adventure.  After a short training session we suited up in overalls, goggles, earplugs and a helmet. I’m not sure how the instructor expected us to hear him once earplugs and helmet were firmly in place but we did manage through sign language.

We took seats in the viewing area around the twelve-foot vertical wind tunnel into which we would soon venture.  It’s always amusing watching people try to manouver into the first position when faced with a queue.  Strangely, there was no jockeying or positioning this day.  Perhaps, like me, no one really wanted to be first, despite the excitement.  This is one of those rare occasions where I knew it would be beneficial to watch someone do it before I had my attempt.  Having successfully secured the third position I took mental notes, between cheering and clapping, laughing and grinning like a Cheshire cat, and was sure I could overcome the body alignment issues my fellow flyers had encountered.

It’s fascinating how difficult it is to maintain control over your limbs when you’ve literally been swept off your feet and buoyed by a surge of air.  A surge of air that is causing your nostrils to flare alarmingly, like that of a skittish steed. Once I’d reassured myself I could breath, despite my initial alarm, I was heady and slightly disoriented and I couldn’t stop laughing. That was until I realised I had little control over my saliva and that it was now dampening my face (I had wondered why the instructor wore a helmet with a full face cover.) Trying to laugh with a closed mouth, breathe, ensure my legs and arms were positioned well and smile for the camera was an awful lot to pay attention to all at once.  My certificate states I can fly with minimal assistance, move up and down in the air flow, turn 360 degrees as well as hold a still, controlled body position.  I have a way to go to fly to a given point and move forward or backward apparently.  I had no idea I could do so much in so short a time frame – it really wasn’t a conscious effort.  I’m almost sure it was all luck.

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Indoor skydiving was a most unusual and exciting experience. It’s quite unlike anything else, expect, I imagine, jumping out of a plane. As a result of this and another recent exhilarating escapade in an escape room I am on the hunt for fun and exciting experiences to add to my love list (more commonly known as a bucket list). Any ideas?

Inside a mystery box

Image sourced from Lacy Lane

Image sourced from Lacy Lane

Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun.  – Nina Dobrev

You can be childlike without being childish. A child always wants to have fun. Ask yourself, ‘Am I having fun?’ – Christopher Meloni

Life is more fun if you play games.  – Roald Dahl

As a child I was fascinated by mystery boxes.  Being presented with a number of unobtrusive boxes and being tasked with choosing one to reveal either a welcome bounty or a dud souvenir was excruciatingly enticing . I delighted in the weighing up of possibilities and the anticipation –  would there be ultimate enjoyment or a momentary disappointment from having made the wrong decision?  Recently the tables were turned slightly. I was not choosing a box for a reward but rather I was put inside a mystery box and the ultimate reward came from escape.

My analogy is weak, I agree, so let me tell you a little about one of the most exhilarating  fun experience I have had in a very long time.

It all began with a shake down.  Phones and other electronic devices were confiscated and locked away.  A hood was placed over my head. I don’t go in much for blindfolds and I certainly don’t like hessian bags over my head but in the spirit of adventure and fun I played along.  We were led to our chamber and once our captor departed and locked us within we removed our bags to find we were in the dark bowels of the Butcher’s Burrow.  We had 50 minutes to escape our fate and I had no idea how to begin. There were limited tools at our disposal and those that seemed to exist were sealed away with combination locks. Time was of the essence and the two of us had to work together to escape.  Our first objective was to find light.

I would love to describe in detail the steps we took to escape and the challenges we faced but that would spoil the fun should you attempt this yourself. The Exitus escape rooms are an exciting addition to the adult fun arena.  The room we visited is part of the entertainment at Strike Bowling in the city of Brisbane but they are popping up almost everywhere.  Each room has a theme where minimal clues are given and teams must use their wits and combined brain power to solve the puzzles confronting them. The goal is to escape before the nominated time is up.  You can ask for clues – using the iPad that is supplied or the mobile phone that links directly to the administrator.  Beware – there are time penalties for clues.

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Before entering, I was a little apprehensive.  The thought of being locked in an unfamiliar room for close to an hour, sent my heart a flutter.  What if I felt claustrophobic and too confined, what if I  needed to get out?  Those thoughts soon passed and then a sheen of sweat broke out as I wondered if I would know what to do. Would I be able to solve the puzzles?  What if I needed maths? I need not have worried.  Precautions are in place in case of panic – the mobile phone allows for an instant exit should you need it and the puzzles, well, while they initially  seemed unsolvable, once an instinctual need to ‘escape’ kicked in the fuzziness of my mind was miraculously unlocked and I forged ahead.  Good news too – no maths needed.

My adult son and I worked exceptionally well as a team.  He had been in an escape room before and had some sense of what was required so with a little guidance we set about our task with the pressure and weight of a ticking clock as a constant motivator. We each had our moments of clarity and success and often times it was our combined collaboration that saw the different clues uncovered and puzzles solved.  Teams of up to six can enter the rooms.  I would have found that a little difficult; coping with too many personalities and noise may have rendered me incapable of clear throughout but it may also add to the fun for many.

We escaped, triumphant.  In our last three minutes, holding our final clue we were stumped.  We tossed around ideas, tried various options but relented and asked for a clue.  We weighed the alternative – time penalty or eviction without resolution.  We chose to finish the puzzle.  Surprisingly we were on the right path and probably would have gotten to the end point unaided but that ticking clock forced our hand.

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If you want to experience the difference between fun and enjoyment but don’t want to jump out of planes, travel too far from home or spend a fortune; try escape rooms – they are loads of fun and worth every cent. The warm after glow will provide you with plenty of lasting enjoyment once the thrill of the moment has passed.

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Wouldn’t it be interesting if…

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“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Albert Einstein

There is a bike path near my house that meanders through several suburbs all the way to the river. As I walked this path recently I passed a number of really cool playgrounds. Each had more than the regular swings and slides. These playgrounds had really neat and unique play equipment that I imagine would be great fun for kids.

These playgrounds for kids got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be interesting if, as adults, we could design our own little space for fun, relaxation and adventure. What would we include?  I chuckled to myself realising they could look very different for each of us, even different for individuals on different days, should we have the opportunity to be the architects of our dreams.

This week, for me, my little space would include lots of relaxation and soulfilling adventure.  Now, I’m going to use a good deal of imagination here, because that’s what kids do in playgrounds, right? Use their imaginations.  My playground would consist of five hut like gazebos arranged in a pentagon around a central hut that acts as a hub, if you will.  Reflexology paths, lined with aromatic herbs, radiate from the hub to the other huts. This central hut is, of course, a tea hut. It boasts every type of tea imaginable; chai, oolong, gunpowder green, herbal teas, you name it it’s there with an equally abundant collection of teapots and tea cups for any mood or occasion.

I could begin my adventure with a soothing cup of High Mountain Vietnamese Oolong and then take the path that leads to the massage hut where I could indulge in Thai foot massage, Indian head massage and Kahuna massage. Once rejuvenated, refreshed and relaxed  I would wander back to the hub for a rich and creamy pot of creme brûlée tea .  Next, I’d head out to the art gazebo where I could escape into and create with paints, collage, beading, and clay.

Thinking about what play means to me, I’d have to have a place for a tight rope and a trapeze swing. But a trapeze wouldn’t fit in a gazebo you say. Such a trifling matter.  When employing  imagination,  anything is possible. Gilbert Chestrson also believed “there are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.”

Giving free rein to my imagination (as I wandered through a tree lined park on my Sunday morning walk) I daydreamed of having a hut with a magic door that would transport me to anywhere in the world. I could visit the Uffizi Gallery and sate myself on gorgeous art, then wander up the spiritual haven of the Tor in Glastonbury, followed by a wander around the standing stones in Avebury, or the quiet moors in Scotland. I wouldn’t mind dropping into the little church of San Damiano, in Assisi, for mass in Italian or for a seafood lunch in Honfleur.  On my return, and after supping a dandelion tea, I’d head off to the remaining hut, for a soak in a warm mud pool  finished off  with a float in a float tank.

Now wouldn’t that be grand? A cluster little white wooden gazebos where I could indulge, play and escape.  I know it is just plain silly (and many of you will be wondering what the hell I was thinking posting this tripe) but that’s half the fun and my. How often do we let ourselves, as adults, just dream silly dreams? How often do we play and use our imaginations? Where’s the harm in having fun? Sometimes time and finances don’t allow us to truly escape but a little daydreaming is as good as a holiday. Your brain can’t tell the difference between a thought and reality.  Needless to say my Sunday morning walk was one of the most relaxing and exhilarating walks I’ve had in a long time.  I might actually pull the paintbrushes out this week and pop off for a foot rub. Woo hoo. See what letting your imagination run wild can trigger.

Fire up your imagination and start daydreaming. What would your playground include?

 

An inner city walk to soothe the soul, heal the body and refresh the mind

I love going out of my way, beyond what I know, and finding my way back a few extra miles, by another trail, with a compass that argues with the map…”  Rebecca Sonlit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

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After a big week I was physically and mentally drained but I couldn’t resist the urge to get  outdoors and walk. There were strict criteria for this would be walk. I didn’t want anything too taxing nor too far away. It had to be soothing to my soul and pleasing to my eye. The options in my city are endless.

After much consideration I decided to head down to the Southbank precinct and design my own river walk.

The beauty of starting off  at dawn is you get to see the city wake up.  My wander took me through parklands, along the river, past our cultural precinct including art gallery, state library and gallery of modern art, over a funky bridge that replicates the masts of ships and through a mostly sleeping city. It’s wonderful to take in the diverse materials, shapes, colours, angles and soft edges of a quiet city. I enjoyed the opportunity and time to consider the public art along the way.  Too soon however my path took me past dishevelled, disoriented party goers tripping  out of the casino and other establishments. I skipped my way through their meandering routes.  These seedy elements weren’t buoying my soul or my eye and I was just starting to ponder the sense in my decision when, thankfully I plunged myself into the sanctuary of the city botanical gardens. A much appreciated, peaceful haven.

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When my son was young we spent many hours in this garden. I hadn’t  been there for years so it was lovely to reacquaint myself with the different elements of this little piece of heaven before emerging in the grounds of a university, strolling across another funky bridge and back to my starting point. It was here, back at the beginning, that I had planned to dip my feet into the pool, our city beach.

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On route to the beach I was tickled to discover a herb and vegetable garden. Basil, parsley, eggplant, tomatoes and all manner of edible delights were arrayed in a little grotto.  A second treat emerged in the shape of a (man-made) pebbled lined stream. My shoes came off and I gingerly stepped in for a relaxing reflexology foot massage. It was divine.

Shoeless, I skipped across to the beach, dug my toes in the sand, wadded across the way and felt satisfied with my decision not to hike a mountain or to drive off to the beach, an hour away. My body, mind and soul were rejuvenated and energised by my early morning, inner city, river walk.

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Create your own adventure, there are so many to choose from. You might wander down  previously untrodden  laneways, get lost in your own city, village or suburb and at the end of it all, you can sit back with a cup of tea and revel in your discoveries.

Warning! This mountian has fine print.

Education is when you read the fine print.  Experience is what you get when you don’t.   Pete Seeger

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I ran into a bit of trouble on a mountain recently. It isn’t the sort of trouble you’d expect.  First, let me tell you about my adventure.

So, I hiked another mountain.  I know, I’m kind of obsessed now with this whole walk up a mountain thing. You may have guessed that this isn’t such a grand undertaking when one considers I live in Australia. We don’t have what anyone else in the world would class as mountains. No really, it’s quite awe-inspiring for me to travel and stand at the base of a Canadian, Nepalese or New Zealand mountain. Not to mention a French Alp or the the grand mounds of the Dolomites in Italy. In comparison our mountains here in Australia are mere hillocks. Nonetheless, this little challenge, that started off as a way of gaining fitness for an up coming Nepalese hike, has turned into a far more personal challenge.  Plus, it’s fun too.

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Woolumbin, also known as Mt Warning, is one of the highest (1156 m) and easily accessible mountains to my home. I set off at dawn for the two hour drive full of excitement and a little trepidation. While I wasn’t setting out to break any records, I wasn’t sure how I’d go after twelve months of inactivity. Basically, I planned to unashamedly plod my way to the top.  From a number of websites I gleaned the walk is considered strenuous, requires good levels of fitness and  takes approximately 5 hours return.  I managed to complete the ascent in just under two hours and my descent took bang on two. Not bad for a plodder.

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The mountain is cloaked in rainforest. It is one of the most beautiful rainforests I’ve explored. It is also one of the noisiest. I was  accompanied by the loud call of lyrebirds, whip birds and a smaller species I could not identify by its trill. I saw small finches and lovely little speckled birds that braved the understory and hopped about on the track. There were bold and brazen bush turkeys as well.  The flora is abundant and lush. Being a subtropical rainforest there are palms, and vines and great trees with buttressing trunks. There were many red and blue berries and red nut casings along the path. I saw small ferns and violet ground covers as well as magnificent samples of fungi and lichen in places.

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The day was overcast with an 80 percent chance of showers. The hike up was fairly dry but the waterfalls were running and there was much water over the track.  The initial section of the walk, about the first kilometre, gets the heart racing. The ascent rises quickly, the way paved with innumerable, uneven steps. Before long the hammering pulse in my head slowed to a more regular cadence as the path evened out into zigzagging switchbacks and a rhythm to my swagger returned, until the summit approach.

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The last push to the top is very steep and rugged and virtually straight up. A chain provides one with the means to haul oneself up the rocky incline.  Knowing there would not be a view did not dampen the experience of reaching the top. There is a peace and a quiet on top of the mountain. It is a sacred place. Close clouds shrouded the pinnacle enveloping me in a sacred silence one rarely finds unless meditating. There is a palpable presence on the top of the mountain. One does not feel quite alone. After drinking in the atmosphere, marvelling at the blinding whiteness of the cloud, resting just a bit and feeling pretty chuffed that I’d made it, I found it really hard to leave this magical place. It was precious to have the crest to myself, considering the number of other hikers I’d met on the way.

The descent is probably more demanding than the way up as the steep decline turns your legs to jelly.  A decent rainfall cooled my downward journey and when I returned to the car park I was grateful for flat ground. Needless to say, after a year of inactivity my muscles felt bruised for several days afterward.  A small price for such a wonderful adventure.

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Woolumbin is situated in northern New South Wales in an area refered to as the Northern Rivers. It is a short drive from the quaint yet bustling regional town of Murwillumbah. It is a place I know well from many holidays visiting my grandparents when I was young. Honestly, this is one of the most visually appealing places to visit. It is always lush and green, it is both inviting and enchanting.

Woolumbin, named Mt Warning by Captain James Cook in 1770 to warn other mariners of the dangers posed by nearby reefs, is, I discovered, the relic core of a volcano. Also, being so high, it is the first place in Australia to see the sun each morning. Aptly, the mountain is sometimes refered to as ‘cloud catcher’ as it is often cloaked in cloud. I haven’t seen the top of the mountain too many times due to cloud cover. Even on very fine days one can always see a few clouds gathering at her apex.

Now, for the fine print.

It was not until after I’d ‘summited’ and scrambled down the chained, rocky outcrop that I read a sign and learned with rising horror that climbing to the top of  Wollumbin is against the wishes of the Bundjalung elders.  I was quite upset that I hadn’t known this earlier. I felt disrespectful for not investigating more deeply prior to my arrival.  I was dismayed I hadn’t read the small print. On my descent I checked each sign and, sure enough, below all the large warnings of making sure you leave in the day light and to stay on the path and the marker indicating the half way point, clear as the nose on my face, there is, in smaller print, a statement indicating that the Bundjalung elders  request visitors and the uninitiated do not climb to the top. In my defense, the placement and size of print used on the signage is where, in Australia, the name of the local council or parks and wildlife name would be and so, is easily overlooked.

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I know, I know, there really is no excuse for ignorance. Though there is certainly a disparity here between aboriginal law and national park regulations. One requests no climbing and the other doesn’t restrict access.  Amid my growing unease at  having disrespected the laws of native people I reflected that I was reverent in my interaction with nature, in awe of the spirit of the place and full of gratitude for my time there.  Valuing and respecting aboriginal traditions and wishes is an important step in building relationships, promoting understanding of aboriginal culture and sharing our love of this land.

Captain Cook may have named the mountain Warning in 1770 to alert others to the dangerous reefs off the coast but my ‘warning’, to would be hikers, is to be aware that Woolumbin is a sacred aboriginal mountain that is still used for rituals and ceremonies.  To be informed is better than to be ignorant.

When we wander on this amazing planet of ours it serves to ask “Upon whose land do we walk?” “Whose country is this?”  “Who walked here before me?” It certainly brings a deep and rich experience to our travels.

I now seek some means of making recompense for my intrusion while continuing to love and explore the wonders of this amazing planet of ours.

Wishing you happy travels.

 

In their footsteps. Well, almost!

Albion is a tiny suburb in Brisbane approximately six kilometres north east-ish of the city centre. A busy major road runs directly through the centre of the suburb which boasts an interesting history.

I set off with a friend to explore this little gem of a suburb, best known to me for its harness racing track, which was, I discovered, established in the 1880’s.

Following a city council designed heritage trail we discovered a hidden history. We admired historical buildings, grand old homes and tiny workers cottages in varying states of repair. We called on our imaginations to visualise buildings and historic sites, replaced now by modern factories and vacant lots.

Dunaverty

Dunaverty

Worker's cottage

Worker’s cottage

Hampton court

Hampton court

We were intrigued to learn there had been a vibrant Chinese settlement here with thriving market gardens in what is now a well known park and football field.

One architectural and cultural icon that was sadly missing was the old flour mill. Built by Scottish migrants in the 1930’s it was sadly destroyed by an arsonist’s fire late last year. The historic mill produced flour for 72 years before being shut down in 2004. The desolate site is soon to be transformed into a ‘lifestyle precinct'(high density yet elegant housing).

Photo supplied

The old mill.  (Photo supplied)

The site of the old mill today

The site of the old mill today

Completing the circuit we pulled up a stool in a little cafe in what was once the Albion public hall. The ground floor of this gorgeous building is now a thriving hub of cafes and restaurants while upstairs is soon to be converted into loft apartments for short term lease by tourists and visitors to our city.

Image by libraryhack

Image by libraryhack

image

This was a fun way to catch up with my friend. We talked and laughed while we puzzled over the map. We caught up on a months worth of life events as we strolled through this modern suburb while recreating the past in our minds. We enjoyed the winter sunshine, each other’s humour and easy company. We got in a little exercise (there was a hill) and didn’t have to fuss over food or expense.

I’m keen to know: How do you catch up with friends? Have you explored an interesting place close to home recently?

How To Be An Explorer Of The World
1. Always Be LOOKING (notice the ground beneath your feet.)
2. Consider Everything Alive & Animate
3. EVERYTHING Is Interesting. Look Closer.
4. Alter Your Course Often.
5. Observe For Long Durations (and short ones).
6. Notice The Stories Going On Around You.
7. Notice PATTERNS. Make CONNECTIONS.
8. DOCUMENT Your Findings (field notes) In A VAriety Of Ways.
9. Incorporate Indeterminacy.
10. Observe Movement.
11. Create a Personal DIALOGUE With Your Environment. Talk to it.
12. Trace Things Back to Their ORIGINS.
13. Use ALL of the Senses In Your Investigations.”

Keri Smith, How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum

Albion Hotel

Albion Hotel

Walking the pages of the world

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Saint Augustine.  

They say once you’ve travelled you get bitten by the bug. I love to travel, with all its wonders and its difficulties. Every  couple of years now I head off on a new adventure away from my homeland and in doing so I have found a greater appreciation for the world,  its people and their cultures . I have also developed a deep love and respect for my own country as a result of leaving to explore the world.

Like St Augustine and many others, travel for me puts so very much into perspective and reminds me that there is so much more than my own existence.  I love too, that at any time I can simply close my eyes and revisit the places I have been and relive the sights, the sounds and the experiences I had while there. It is as Conroy claims;

 “Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”

For all the joys travel brings there are also some small hurdles along the way that force one to really acknowledge the important things in life. Travel forces you to minimise, to adjust to change and difference and to make the most of every day despite the weather, language barriers and lack of home comforts. I’m not sure I totally agree with Cesare Pavese, the Italian poet and novelist, that travel is a ‘brutality’, although at times it can bang you up a bit.  It does however, force you to “trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”

I love that when I travel my whole life is contained in a backpack.  The knowledge that I can do with less is a wonder to me and I am grateful for the simple things; a soft patch of grass to sit and eat the figs bought at a market, the stranger who offered help with directions, the cool breeze that dries a wet shirt after a long hike.

The impact of travel is not subtle. These opportunities for exploration and discovery are about more than discovering places. They are also about discovering and unearthing more of myself. For me it makes great dents in my ego, it tests me, feeds, fulfils and reshapes me. Each time I go away I come back changed. I think Theroux got it right when he said;  “You go away for a long time and return a different person – you never come all the way back”