17 March 2018

What is mine

Mount Archer
Portrait photo of a maroon Mitsubishi FTO

Today the significance of everything finally (and properly) hit me. It took standing 603.5 metres above sea level on Mount Archer, in a Central Queensland town called Rockhampton, looking out onto a horizon that had peaks and troughs lined up as far as my eyes could see, to finally see the things in my life for what they are.

To put some context to how I worked up to this 'peak realisation', I arrived to Gladstone, Queensland, just a little under 3 weeks ago now with no belongings aside from one fully stuffed suitcase. No car. No bicycle. No bedroom. Just enough clothes and electronics to survive - it was a pleasant surprise to find out that one suitcase full of 'stuff' was all I really needed to get by. Having said that though, my car and bicycle were actually in transit from WA to my new home and the loop was not complete just yet.

To my surprise, my car got here first. It was a surreal experience for me to watch something I had almost completely compartmentalised and labelled as 'the past' roll off the back of a truck onto the Queensland tarmac. The first drive I had around the neighbourhood was exciting and the familiarity gave me a lot of joy, which must have been because I was driving a vehicle that still had WA plates on it in a completely different state and simply because I was driving my own car.

“This was probably the first trigger that appeared in my subconscious mind.”

Now, I will completely understand if any of you reading this are completely disinterested by cars and wondering what this guy is on about - I get it. But it was a special moment for me, having something familiar once again in my possession and it also meant that I no longer had to drive the rental car around anymore. Sorry 17' Toyota Corolla Ascent, but I think I will add some automotive reliability (read: boring) into my life when I get a little older and wiser I suppose.

So, back to the story. My 3rd work week in Gladstone was coming to an end and I was itching for some adventure with my time off. So the only logical thing to do was to get into my car, drive 109 km directly North along the coastline to Rockhampton, explore the town, have lunch, drive up the nearby peak of Mount Archer and then drive the 109 km back home.

The town itself was pretty nice, with a greater choice of shops and restaurants compared to Gladstone, but the same half-ghost-town atmosphere during the middle of the afternoon which I'm learning is not unusual in the landscape of regional Australia. I stopped by a local tavern for an Aussie lunch before driving up Mount Archer, which started flat but the 600 metre ascent was a lot of fun and the views just got better and better as I went up (I assured myself on the spot that I would come back and attempt the ascent on my bicycle in the near future). Now, I didn't realise it when I was driving up because I was too immersed but that was probably the first time in my life where I have had the chance to drive up a peak of any kind. This was probably the first trigger that appeared in my subconscious mind.

The second trigger was when I was standing on my own two feet, taking in the views at the top and looking towards the North of Rockhampton and everything beyond. This is what it looked like.

The view in itself was really nice, birds were chirping away up in the trees above (of the unknown QLD wilderness variety) taking advantage of the cooling breeze that was blowing through to glide effortlessly between trees - on top of this, the tropical level humidity provided a blanket of warmth that made the overall temperature just perfect.

Not too hot, not too cold. No shivering, no sweating. Just nice.

Then my eyes started taking note of the undulations of the land, of the various peaks that poked out from the ground throughout the horizon, starting first with the ones closest to me and ending at the highest at the very back if you look close enough. Then I realised, that this was the first time I have ever lived close to a landscape like this where peaks and mountains are tall and accessible. It immediately reminded me of a personal goal I set myself a 3 years ago. I was backpacking through Switzerland with my brother and we were lucky enough to learn how to ski on a picturesque French mountaintop over a couple of days. In awe of the snow snow capped peaks and inspired by the rush of skiing adrenaline, I told myself that I would one day live somewhere close to the mountains. At the time, I had no answers to when and where so the idea was put away to remain at the back of my mind, dormant and waiting for an opportunity.

I then stood back a bit and took a minute to take it all in.

“Maybe sometimes not having what you want and all your questions answered is okay and so is pursuing what feels right and the avenues that give you meaning in the here and now.”

Never did I ever imagine that I would be standing in a place like this, on a peak that I ascended with the help of my own car, let alone the idea of living and working in a regional town in Central Queensland. It seemed all too crazy. And exciting. And full of possibilities. But also doable and in control, because here I was. Everything was coming together.

Maybe sometimes Life takes us onto seemingly random, unexpected and even scary journeys to unfamiliar destinations to show us what other possibilities are out there.

Maybe sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and create these ideals for ourselves and envision the city we would like to build a career in, the perfect company we would like to work for, the social circles we would like to belong to forever and the hope that our future selves will have enough money to 'settle in' - but who's to say these ideals and visions are the true paths that our lives have to take when we can only possibly know so much about the world and what it has to offer.

Maybe sometimes not getting what you want and all your uncertainties answered immediately is okay and so is pursuing what feels right and the avenues that give you meaning in the here and now.

At the end of the day, I think it is really important for everyone to have ideas of the lives they would like to lead in the future, so that there is something at the end of the tunnel that you can work and strive towards in the here and now. But I also think keeping an open mind along the journey is also important because you might find other more meaningful and valuable things that your former self could never have conceived of in the past.

It would be shame to cling onto the idea of a perfect life so strongly only to find yourself at the end of the tunnel only to notice that the decision you made for yourself was set in stone what seems like a lifetime ago.

“What you aim at determines what you see.” - Jordan B. Peterson