Sometimes heading off aimlessly down the road without any particular place to go can be a healing experience. In Australian aboriginal cultures, the walkabout’s time-tested ritual gives young men a chance to learn more about their character and strength through a solitary wilderness journey. Perhaps not an exact interpretation yet honoring the spirit of the walkabout, I hopped in the car this past weekend and headed off to points unknown on a “carabout.” It’s a bit difficult in a sprawling place like Texas to honor the true process of a walkabout. While not exactly venturing into wilderness, I went somewhere I’d never been before, which in my mind qualified the trip as a walkabout.
I’m not one to dance well with serendipity, but I learned a little footwork this weekend towards that goal. Originally planning to head towards Galveston and the calming influence of the ocean surf, a friend reminded me that it was spring break. The thought of quiet contemplation amid the annual ritual of 150,000 drunken, lusty college kids didn’t quite work. Drop about 30 years and I might think that cool, but all I could envision was the noise and the traffic jam.
So I headed in the opposite direction, towards the piney woods of north Texas. Where I went exactly doesn’t matter; only the journey and the chance to think mattered. This mini-retreat of sorts was long overdue to sort through some personal issues and attempt to quiet the noise in my head. Granted a lot of that noise comes from living in a large urban area, but it’s usually easier to think when temporarily changing the venue to a quiet, unfamiliar place where the pace is slower, or at least different. While you can find quiet at home by telling people you’re leaving town but staying, putting the phone in the freezer, unplugging the TV, etc., it’s hard to visually ignore the things around you that remind you of your past or chores yet undone. A simple walkabout encourages a fresh viewpoint with the least amount of distractions.
What I accomplished over the weekend is personal, but my point is to encourage anyone to try a walkabout from time to time and give yourself a fresh perspective, or at least the chance to remove the distortion in your lives long enough to consider things anew. Even though, as one friend admonished, I didn’t have a geek-free walkabout it was still an energizing event. There were even moments of shear serendipity that I rarely allow, being the anal, planning type I am. For example, I can’t remember ever traveling somewhere without a hotel reservation, yet Saturday night I simple stopped and got a room when I was ready to turn in for the night. This small deed may seem trivial to most of you, but it’s anathema to a linear, logical thinker. I’m hoping the stoic walls of Analtown are beginning to crumble, for inside lives a nomadic spirit ready to travel by decisions made impromptu without regard for conclusions.
Today it’s back to the paycheck grind, but that’s okay. I feel different this Monday than most Mondays, and want to believe it’s because I’m fresh off a journey without boundaries or predisposing the outcome. Can’t wait to hit the road on the next walkabout and see where it takes me. All that’s required is to point the car down the road and go, letting dusk be my signal to stop, wherever that may be…after I make sure I have gas…and cash…and writing stuff…and the laptop…and… Hey, when you’re learning to dance you step on a lot of toes until you learn, right? So long as their my own toes, I figure I’m still hearing the music and will get it eventually.