Coming Back Out From The Outback

Integrating my Central Australian experience

It’s hard enough as it is to return to normal life after a holiday; but arriving in the busy city after the serenity of Central Australia provides some much needed insight into what makes my heart sing.

It’s been a week since returning from my trip to Central Australia, and I’ve noticed differences that make me both alarmed and grateful at once.

I live in an inner suburb of Melbourne, a busy modern city; my street is a narrow, busy thoroughfare, noisy with the constant sound of passing traffic. I am surrounded by cars, bikes, trucks, pedestrians, and trams.

The stark contrast with the outback is apparent. There is a hint of claustrophobia at the sheer number of houses and towering apartment buildings around me; I miss the silence and the emptiness of the red soil and big horizons.

Even in the township of Coober Pedy  —  where we had access to internet, mobile reception, and supermarkets  —  the omni-presence of the desert all around imposes itself on your consciousness.

Land was so flat, could well have been ocean
No distinguishing feature in any direction
—  The Triffids

“Deserted dunes welcome weary feet”

I find myself pining for the simplicity of life in the outback. So why not move out there? You ask.

I have a mythology in my head about the kind of person that can make it in the outback – rugged constitution, good with their hands, capable of building their own house, fixing their own car, and maybe also mustering animals. All of which I am quite inept at. Nor I do think I am capable of learning these things.

It seems to me that those who make a good living in rural areas are pragmatic, physically-capable people. Whereas I’m just an idealist who wants peace, quiet, and reliable, fast internet.

At every stop, I heard a story of someone who gave up the comfortable city life to make their unique (and usually humble) mark in the lives of desert-dwellers. Even those who worked in the resort cafes and bars spoke about heading out onto the land on their days off.

In the absence of noise, the Australian desert sings a song that resonates deeply within all of us. Like a siren, she calls to each of us in a unique way. That song is inescapable, and once you’ve heard it, it continually tugs on our soul, tempting us back into the openness.

I feel I could very easily wander off onto the land and just keep walking, in any direction. I fantasise about waking up and not seeing anything for miles other than scrub and red soil. I may not feel the call to dig for shiny stones, or to muster cattle, but the song of the desert is playing in my heart.

Is this just my introverted nature tired from the city hustle? Am I just craving silence and respite from the noise of modern life?

“Coming together of the spirit”

My dream of living in the outback is a romantic yearning for something that the outback represents, but doesn’t actually exist ‘out there’.

And that is a certain stillness and calmness that I feel within me. It’s an internal state where I feel at peace, where my spirit, mind, and body are feeling integrated, operating in harmony and rhythm with each other.

The “news of difference” that my experience has shown me is how the way I currently live is out of synch.

This is nothing new, it’s not a revolutionary idea that no one else has blogged about — far from it. Many of my past clients suffered from the same ailment, and my role was to tune these disparate parts back into harmony.

There is something about experiencing the two states, so starkly different, within a short span of time that makes the comprehension of it palpable.

So, how do I do this?

Observe the world around me with curiosity and fascination. While in the Outback, every sound, every sight, every smell was something different that inspired my creativity. Curiosity is a wonderful internal state that allows me to experience even the mundane and familiar with novelty.

Be grateful for what I have and don’t have. In Central Australia, much of what is commonplace in the city is missing: simple things like reliable mobile reception, wifi signal, well-made coffee, and so on. OK, so I didn’t have those things… so I was able to feel grateful that in my day-to-day life I do have ready access to these. The trade-off was the sheer beauty and magnificence of a land untouched (more or less) by modern civilisation. While the Yulara resort certainly had the modern comforts, it was removed enough from the hustle-and-bustle to make these things rare and special things. Now that I’m back in the city, I’m grateful that I have them; and also grateful that there are places in the world where wilderness is being preserved.

What do I need on a day-to-day basis that will bring body, mind, and spirit into harmony? This is the question which always confronts me. It’s like admitting to a dirty little secret… because not having them (or admitting to wanting them) is like admitting I might deserve this. In the brief moments where I have these things in my life all present at once and in appropriate measure I immediately feel a sense of shame or guilt — who am I to live in such a privileged way when so many others do not? The key for me is being OK with it when I have it; and being OK when I don’t. This is the Tao, after all: there will be moments of harmony, and moments of disharmony, and the flow comes from riding that wave. So what do I need? Connection, creativity, music, good food, good friends, and being surrounded by real, genuine experiences.

Meditate on what elicits that inner stillness and silence. The visual image of the Outback is burned into my memory. That image serves as an anchor that immediately calms my nervous system. I find visual and aural anchors very useful to help elicit certain states at will. Mind you, I’ve trained intensively in this technique, so it’s something that comes quite easily for me.

Stay present. It would be easy to fret over the yearning of something that I don’t have right now. Yes, have the goals and work towards them — ‘Presence’ is simply being with where you find yourself in the present moment. I don’t have an idyllic lifestyle in the outback; I don’t have a quaint seaside cottage on the coast; I have bills and obligations to attend to, and work to complete daily. And if I remain in the present moment, I can feel the stillness and silence

All I ever wanted,
All I ever needed,
Is here in my arms
—  Depeche Mode

Originally published by Petah Raven on .
Canonical link
Exported from Medium on August 1, 2018.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.