Walkabouts

I first heard the term “walkabout” when I watched the Crocodile Dundee movies as a child. Back then, I had zero clue what it meant. All I knew is this guy with the funny accent was humorous and there was some good action. Also, Carl Winslow was in the movies so it had to be good right? Fast forward about 12 years and I was on a plane to the homeland of Mick Dundee, and it forever changed me.

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.”

(Myself, EJ, and Marlow after a costume party, I hope)

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.

 

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