Sometimes the psychology behind our compulsions is clear: We want to eat because we are hungry, or perhaps we link the idea of food to comfort, or freedom or simply the chemical satisfaction of a sugar rush, however short-lived.
We want a cold shower because we are over-heated or feel uncomfortably dirty, or because for us it marks the end of another day; it has become a mental cue that we can relax and enjoy the remainder of our evening.
We want to fuck because millions of years of procreating tells our crocodile brains this is how we continue for another million. And because society tells us, relentlessly, that we should all constantly want sex (then slaps our wrist and calls us a slut for having it. Dick move, society).
But there are other things we feel compelled to do, and it can take us a long damn time to sort out the root (heh. Root. It’s funny if you’re in Australia) of the drive, if ever we do.
I feel compelled to share stories from my travels in a public forum, and it’s taken me a long time to figure out why. It finally came to me upon returning to Mellish Park, the North Queensland cattle station on which I worked four months of last year.
The epiphany came, as clarity often does, at the most mundane of moments: I was returning from the toilet. A grasshopper leapt off a table towards my face and, while dodging the unexpected insect, I almost stepped on a green frog that had poorly decided that now would be a good time to cross the walkway.
Something about the miniature adrenaline rush pulled me into the moment fully. It was very much like being hit in the face with a bucket of cold water, except that the water was QUEENSLAND (and thus not cold at all). The bucket was filled with the colors the retreating sun made of the sky and the mellow, zen faces of the house paddock cattle grazing contentedly and the pure joy in every stride of the pups racing each other toward the dam. I had been looking at these things all day long but the appreciation for them and the sum their parts made up struck me far more wholeheartedly in that moment than the grasshopper had been threatening to.
Somehow, I had managed to forget how fucking beautiful it is up here; the palette that Queensland is painted with and the stark shadows the unforgiving sun creates and the way the kite hawk shadows drift across the lawn like nature’s screensaver and the birds flitting around you from tree to tree and a red roo bounding through red dust in the distance . . .it all creates this place that’s more than a place. It’s a soul, it envelopes you and it makes your heart expand so much it almost fucking hurts it’s so rich.
It was the end of the day so I was free to rush back to my room. I had to get these feelings down, or whatever approximation of them I could manage through my handle on the English language. And, in the process of trying to find the right words to properly transport you from wherever you’re reading this to the heart of the Australian Outback the question came back to me: Why?
Why did I want to share it? What did I hope to achieve by doing so?
I stumbled. Well. . .because. . . because of the way I feel. It’s so. . .rewarding. I want to share it with everyone because. . .Fuck, I don’t know. I just want to share every good and educational and loving thing in my life because. . .
. . .because it rubs my ego. Look at all the cool shit I’m doing. Writing about it makes you think I’m cool and know how to get cool things and makes you want to be around me so you can have cool things too.
. . .Aw, fuck. That’s no good. That is not a healthy or compassionate motivation.
But it was a real one: Writing allows me to sculpt the image of me that exists in the mind of others (and, thus, the image of me I think others have in their minds, which in turn effects the image I hold of myself). Writing raises my sense of self-worth.
But not in a healthy way. That was the first thing that tripped me up.
But I got past it. Yes, egotism was, sadly, a true motivator. But it wasn’t the only or even the strongest one. There were, thankfully, other more altruistic drives at work here as well.
I also wanted to share because I want you to feel this way too. I love you (most of you. Maybe not you. You know what you did), and this place makes me happy and I want it to make you happy too. And the things I have learned from travel have made me happy not only in the moments I am experiencing them, but in the moments that come afterward: Travel has been an education in, among other things, gratitude. When we allow ourselves to appreciate the awesome we have, its awesome is multiplied. This realization has enhanced my life, and I want that for you as well.
Additionally, it was from travel I learned my most valuable lessons in compassion, empathy and perspective and I want that for you too. Because when we understand each other more we’re dicks to each other less and this world could really do with us being dicks to each other less.
But will you? Does my describing my emotions of this place actually share them with you, even remotely? Or does my describing this place at least inspire you to come and experience it, or something similar yourself? And will you do anything with that inspiration, or will it simply cause an ache in your heart and make you sad?
Will you take any account I write of these compassionate people to heart, and integrate them into your current view of the ocker bogan? Can you? Or does it not fit, will you disregard it and, as a result, me? Shit, she’s travelled across the world to become a hick.
When I write about these places and the ways in which they’ve opened my eyes and heart and how I want that for you, do I come across as passionate and sympathetic, or as bragging and self-righteous? Shit, maybe I am.
This was the second thing that tripped me up: Does my writing achieve any of the things I strive for it to? I don’t know. I don’t know.
. . .But I do know that not writing definitely doesn’t.
And that was it: My epiphany. The scales fell from my eyes. [Alright, in the interest of an honest account: there may have been some other, less linear realizations in there as well and it may not all have crystallized perfectly in the space of one afternoon (staring at cow butt for weeks on end = lots of time to process things) but creative license dammit.] Eventually the scales fell from my eyes: Writing is the best avenue I have at this juncture in time to achieve goals that are important to me and I feel the absence of it when I am not doing so. And, by now having a clearer idea of what is driving me, I can strive to write with more honesty and awareness: to write more consistently for the good/healthy reasons, and toss the ego posts aside.
Keeping that in mind, here is a snippet from my brand spanking new about page in which I answer (in a more succint and less rambly manner than I just have) the question: Why do I write?
Why do I write? It took me a LONG time to find an answer to that question but I think I have it now:
Because I used to be miserable and now I am not, and I think the story of how I bridged that gap is worth sharing.
Because the world is broken. I don’t have all – or even many, if any – of the answers to fixing multiple broken systems, but I do believe that sharing honest individual perspectives and spreading awareness about the fact the systems are broken to begin with is a good place to start.
Because we are all limited to seeing, feeling and experiencing the world with the eyes, hearts and minds we were born with, but daring to occasionally open up and show our true, raw inner workings, as vulnerable as it may make us feel, is a way to connect and feel less alone, as well as to combat the lies popular media feeds us about how everyone ‘should’ look, feel and behave.
To share ideas in a public forum (hey there, internet) so the good ideas may take seed and spread, and so bullshit may be called on the rubbish ones, such that we may see the ways in which they are flawed, and refine our beliefs accordingly.
Because I love a good story. Make me laugh, make me smile, make me cry, make me feel something by assembling pretty words in a creative order, and I am appreciative. I have some stories I believe may do that for you, and so I offer them freely in the hopes that they do.
In short: I write in an attempt to better myself, inform/inspire/entertain you, contribute positively to the world at large, and because I enjoy writing, dammit.
I also share things, selfishly, so the world may know me better. And so my friends and family know I’m not dead.
With love, ❤ – K