Now and then the bushwoman lays down her work and watches,
and listens, and thinks. She thinks of things in her own life,
for there is little else to think about…
All days are much the same to her…
But this bushwoman is used to the loneliness of it.
As a girl-wife she hated it, but now she would feel strange away from it…
She seems contented with her lot.*
The days move slowly here in Australia. Out in the bush or in the city, it’s all very much the same relaxed environment no matter where you live. I used to think it was just the people and their laid back approach to life. But now I feel that there’s something more that moves it; something that maintains this calm, steady pace allowing for things to possibly slow down even further and never shifting to speed up. I don’t know what it is but I always sense its presence here.
It’s a presence that I know is absent in California. I never felt it there. Maybe because the land and the people are always too noisy, too busy, too complicated, too loud, and there are simply too many distractions. How can one ever find rest in such a cruel environment? I always felt unsettled. I didn’t look like it. I was quite comfortable conforming to the sort of life expected by others. I was normal. I fit in. I had a day job that I didn’t enjoy too much but paid the bills; I lived in a nice apartment with a lovely roommate; I spent many hours sitting in traffic commuting to/from work; I had a boyfriend; I hung out regularly with friends; I went to birthday parties, showers, weddings, funerals; I went to church every Sunday; I visited my parents often; I kept in touch with people over the phone and through Facebook; but deep down, all I really wanted to do was pursue my dreams of travelling abroad and writing. Yet I did nothing towards achieving those goals.
Instead, I’d write in my journal. I wrote every day and that became my escape, my new land. In that space, I could experience a fraction of that future presence; a presence I would only come to know in its fulness when I left everything behind. No more distractions, no more familiarity, no more routines, schedules, traditions, and sameness. With the pen and paper, everything was always brand new–open, fresh, untouched–waiting to be written.
I look back at it now and wonder at the girl who stepped onto that plane without hesitation, headed for a far away land. She was nervous, unsure of what she was going to meet on the other side, but her confidence could not be broken. When I first arrived, it was all very thrilling but part of me dreaded facing the blank page of the unknown. This was no longer just a moment alone with my pen and paper; this was it. My dreams were about to come true and since then, they actually have!
I don’t think the bushwoman believed she was living her dream, but she had learned to love her life and she grew accustomed to it so much that being separated from it would feel strange. Lately, that’s what I’m starting to feel about my life here. Something about living abroad is so rejuvenating; I feel as though I’ve been revived in a way. And while California constantly beckons and allures with its glitz and glory, I’m quite happy to keep my distance for now because truly, there’s something missing. It’s this presence–the one I have come to love here in this land far away and like the bushwoman, I’m starting to feel quite contented with my lot.
*Excerpts from The Drover’s Wife by Henry Lawson