One of the ongoing themes that will organically emerge in this blog is my undying love for Australia. I have been there three times (5 weeks, 15 months, and 7 months), and consider it my second home. I was enchanted by tales from my brother who had visited four years prior to my first stint, and I was immediately infatuated when I arrived. The people, the land, the attitude, and so many more things, make Australia hold a special place in my life. However, for this entry, I will focus on the namesake of Mr. Dundee’s fictional hometown of “Walkabout Creek.”
From the movies I had gathered a walkabout was a long walk/journey/trip into the wilderness. Later I realized its more of a spiritual journey, to find oneself, usually after a life-altering event or if someone feels their life is stagnant or in need of a change. However, as I found out, as it is a term in Australia, when you show up as the American, they aren’t too keen on you using their terms and then explaining “Nah, its cool, I picked it up watching Crocodile Dundee.”
While there I experienced my own version of a walkabout. During my 15 month stint, which was technically for grad school (at least thats what my parents believed), I lived the Macquarie University Village. It was a 200 unit apartment complex with 5-bedroom apartments, filled with students from all over the world. However, very few Australians lived there. For instance, I did my undergrad at Grand Valley State University in the western part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Two of my neighbors in grad school were from GVSU. I was lucky enough to have a roommate named Marlow.
Now I will ignore Marlow’s less than admirable traits, and focus on the fact he was, and remains, a real life Australian. He also introduced me to many more real life Australians, a lot I still speak with today, and miss dearly (ok, enough with the sappy stuff). While the apartment complex emptied during the summers, a few of us stragglers stuck around. It was myself, Marlow, Timmy, EJ and Monica most of the time, with a few stragglers. Every now and then we’d get bored and go “walkies.”
It was usually just to find a party, or beers, or girls, or anything other than sitting around one of our apartments doing nothing. Rarely would it result in any great discovery or insane story, but they were some fun times, I can assure you.
I began to institute “walkies” when I returned from Australia, to some pretty great results. As I started to move around for work they began to take a different tone. When I got to Minnesota I used them as a way to get to know my neighborhood. I would set out (assuming it was not -35 and snowing) in a particular direction, but always keeping my bearing on home, and just wander around. If a restaurant, bar or shop looked interesting I would go in, but there was never a set agenda, or path.
These days I go on 3-4 each week. Whether its during my lunch break at work, or if I have an hour or so on the weekends, I find its the perfect opportunity to either clear my head, or when I’ve had to make a big decision. Before every move I have always taken a long walkabout. Its good to get away from everything and really weigh the decision, or just bask in silence every now and then. While I am not going on an 18 month walkabout like Mick, I highly recommend it every now and then if you can find the time. If you have a lot of time, maybe an 18 month long one wouldn’t be bad either.