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.
Photo credit to Bridget Webber. I feel this photo rather successfully portrays exactly how fully in the middle of absolutely nowhere I am right now. (Let’s ignore, for the moment, the sequence of events that led me back here and focus on the epiphany regarding my desire to blog.)
In the end, I spent five months in Northern Queensland: four months working as a jillaroo for Mellish Park, and one month working as a ‘resort assistant’ (I had to come up with a title for ‘vagabond that lends a hand with the kitchen/housekeeping/meteorology stuff’ for my CV. That is what I went with) at Sweers fishing resort in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It has been six years and 30 countries since I first left Canada to ‘see the world’ and I would rate my time in Queensland among my richest travel (hell, life) experiences to date. I have learned more about myself these past five months than ever before. Continue reading →
Beware: Existential ponderings ahead. Also: Cows will eat your car.
It would be easy to write about how amazing this whole experience has been (and continues to be), and I plan to (though I caution that any plans of mine tend to be delicate, mercurial things). But to focus only on the beauty of this land and the positive highlights of farm life would be dishonest, in the sense that it would not be telling a complete story. And I attempt to write honestly.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said ‘A man is what he thinks about all day long’, and I believe that. It may be our actions that create an image of us in other people’s minds, but it is our intentions, our thoughts, that color our own days; not what we do, but how we feel about it that shapes our perception of our own, current existence.
So what have I been thinking about during all this? Shit, a lot of things. Continue reading →
Several months back I was given a stellar piece of advice from a friend who has, throughout the years, given me many stellar pieces of advice. I was attempting to write a submission for a travel writing scholarship that I badly wanted and was having a lot of difficulty with it. When I would write casually, words would come easily, and I’d enjoy the process. But, in striving towards perfection with this submission on which so much was riding, I found myself staring at the screen of my computer with a head full of useless static. Words blurred, sentences ceased to make sense and the harder I tried to focus the more my brain responded with a chorus of ‘no no no no CAN’T’. I was upset and disheartened that the times I most needed my fancy wording skills seemed to be the times they saw fit to wage a surly strike.
My friend, a writer herself, sympathized. She knew the feeling of wanting to polish the shit out of something, to do the absolute best you could with it and, in putting that pressure on yourself, ironically strip yourself of the confidence and focus necessary to do so. The trick, she pointed out, was to relax, and to accept the fine art of ‘good enough’. Which boiled down to her very quotable conclusion – “Care deeply. Then let it go.”
I am not good at letting things go. I am good at wanting things. Fiercely. Continue reading →
Some of you may have noticed the discrepancy between the date on which the events of the last post occurred, and when it was actually posted. That 3 month gap has been, I’ll admit, a bit of a digital thorn in my side.
I am waiting in line at immigration. The power in the airport fails and a collective groan sounds from the line. Several minutes later, I am in conversation with an Irishman just returning from a trip home, and he is giving me tips on finding a flat in Melbourne.
But it’s been a whirlwind couple of months. And through it all I was making notes, snapping shots and writing down post ideas like a good little blogger. But I arrived in Australia already lagging behind, a chunk of my time in India still left to upload and I just never. . .quite. . .caught up. Continue reading →
My head was screaming at me in a language of shrill white noise, a tangle of displaced emotion and swirling, half-finished thoughts. When I wasn’t fighting off the urge to go and sob uncontrollably in the corner or just stop and ragdoll in the middle of the floor, as though someone had flipped my emergency ‘off’ switch, I was drowning under the dual crushing weights of self-doubt and self-reproach (In the very moment I originally typed this, I was actually fighting off an insistent urge to just curse, and hurl the computer across the room. This is fucking useless. I suck at writing. I LOSE AT LIFE).
What catastrophe, might you ask, was looming on the horizon? What could compel such a strong, crushing emotional response from this shining example of human strength and stability?
Uh, well. . .sort of. Whether or not you can call On the Road to Ithaca a ‘travel blog’ depends a great deal on what you consider travel to be. I would call it a travel blog, for two main reasons.
One, the shoe fits. I am traveling. I am from Canada. I was in India. Now I am going to Australia. But what about once I arrive in Melbourne? Once I find an apartment and a job and settle in for a bit am I still traveling? How long can you stay in a foreign country before ‘travel’ becomes ‘immigration’? Continue reading →
I am an idiot. I should have known better. This was the third time I’d returned to Canada since I began traveling 5 years ago, and I was fully aware of the many reverse culture shock-y things that can occur when one comes back to one’s country of birth after time spent abroad. I knew that travel had created a healthier life-style for me not because travel was some glorious, magical cure-all, but because of the habits that a life in transit forced or inspired me to adopt; among them, an appreciation of the everyday.
Which is why I feel the prat for not maintaining the habits I was keeping while traveling to record for this blog upon arrival back ‘home’.
While on the road there were 5 things I was never without: my phone, my camera, paper, pen and my passport. Alright, I can probably do without my passport in my home country but the rest were what allowed me to record my thoughts, take notes, capture memories and, through social media, stay connected during the course of it all. This is an ongoing blog. I’m not done. But I stopped these habits. Why?Continue reading →
I put a lot of thought into why I wanted to write this blog and what I hoped to accomplish with it. What could I offer that couldn’t already be found elsewhere? What did I feel was lacking from other, similar blogs?
In terms of travel advice, what I had to offer was my own unique experience. And what I felt was most lacking from other blogs was context. Narrative travel blogs typically lack raw details of how they did what they were writing about – how they set things up, how much activities cost – while review type blogs lacked details of the sort of experience one might expect from the activities or places they were reviewing.
Keeping that in mind, I hoped to write my own blog with a broader perspective. Continue reading →
All flowery language aside, the point you start shitting blood is usually the point when you should stop naively hoping your body will sort through the problem and go seek medical attention.
I hadn’t been well in some time. At the start of the trip I was flying, sampling every street food I could find and priding myself on the fact that I seemed to have beaten my belly into submission after the initial round of violent nausea on day 3. I pictured my stomach as having given up on me after the fifth meal of mystery chaat and having left me to my own devices. “Fuck it,” the mental image of my stomach said. “Eat what you want. I just don’t care anymore. Whatever.”
But 3 weeks later in Rishikesh I found myself in the hospital to get a prescription to combat a sudden bout of food poisoning. It delayed our bike tour departure date by a couple days but, after the round of meds, I was feeling good again.
Until I caught a cold.
That was around Vrindavan. Having been slammed by gulal for Holi meant that whenever I blew my nose the tissue came away tie-dyed into a colorful snot Rorschach. And that lasted well into Jaipur where everything went south in more literal ways than even I care to elaborate.
Until, finally, when leaving to view the infamous Taj Mahal in Agra, I dialled a good friend back in Canada who happens to be a pharmacist, looking for advice. The call ended up having to take place in two parts as, halfway through, I had to cut him off to search for a toilet IMMEDIATELY. Continue reading →