I finished my BIG (practice) WALK almost six months ago.
The past six months for me have been a pretty volatile time. I’ve often felt like a ‘hot mess’.
But a strong, viable, mentally sound & hopeful hot mess 🙂
The walk gave me that.
My active attempt to rebuild hope. Using that hope to invest in healing. My Quest.
I’ve had to think more-and-more about what next, and at first (like everything else) I was half-arsed about it. Trying different hats on to see which one fit best, I suppose.
The problem is, since the walk – I have this sense of urgency (and agency) in my life. I’ve learned some important things, and I feel it may be vital (to the over-arching meaning of my life) that I invest in applying those learnings into shaping my future.
(If that doesn’t sound mental or too wordy)
See that photo, the shadows on the road ? That man walking with me .. he’s a great and lovely man, full of kindness and insight. I met him (and his gorgeous family) by accident not far from Bega. I’d been walking for something like 1400km at that point, and they welcomed me into their home, which is in the shadow of Mt Mumbulla (which the european settlers called ‘little dromedary’ I think, because same as Gulaga, it has a hump-shape to it).
An indigenous leader who blessed me and welcomed me to the Yuin Nation was in daily contact during that part of the walk, and he told me that Mumbulla was a place of ritual, where boys would go, be pushed into a kind of … rock water-slide .. and land in a natural pool – and it was symbolic of the passage into manhood. A place of learning and healing.
I knew when I arrived there, I had something to learn there.
The shadow-man (un-named because they’re deeply private) told me all about a ‘heroes journey’ the religious allegory of it, the necessity of it, the way that the person drawn into it usually suffers, sometimes dies, but they carry with them a chance to heal, to inspire, to remind people of the light that is inside all of us.
He said that I was on a hero’s journey.
I’d never thought about it in those terms. I was seeking healing. In healing myself, I wanted to help others. I’m shy. Unworthy. Despite the silly costume, certainly not a hero.
How can I take so much insight from an encounter, but reject that fundamental bit ?
So I’ve finished my walk – and I’ve had to assess:
Did it really inspire people ?
Was that a temporary ra-ra go mate impact, or did it have a wider meaning ?
Is that an effect I can recreate ?
If I can, is the merit in that, the benefit to myself and others, worth the toil and personal sacrifice of a NEW Quest ?
There are people who followed the walk and read this and think “Simon, WTF ! The answers to those questions are OBVIOUS !!” (and I love them for it), but I’ve spent a lifetime displaced, learning uncertain (or outright false) lessons about love and self-worth as a child. I did fall in love with myself during the walk, but a pattern of a lifetime is hard to break.
But on reflection, my answers are YES. It did have a wider meaningful impact, it did help people, and there IS merit in that. My mind turns to the dozens, yes DOZENS of people who’ve written in with significant stories of change. Overcoming bullying. Addiction. Restoring broken love. Finding hope. Real and meaningful change.
And then the wider group, the thousands of people who wrote in taking inspiration about it where I don’t know the story. Did they change their life somehow ? Were they kinder to people that day ? Did those people then go on to be kinder to others ? The butterfly effect.
So I’ve realised that it’s my mission to keep going. It’s what I’m supposed to do. And there’s merit in it.
Even if it just helped another kid like Archer (who is thriving now!) confined to paediatric ICU for months, gives them a lift, helps them smile in a time of struggle, see that they aren’t alone and the suffering isn’t forever. Even just helping one person like that, I have to choose it over returning to a conventional life.
I’m strong now. I can rebuild my business (COVID paralysed my travel insurance company), sell the family home, move to a bigger, nicer home in a bush/beach town somewhere. Build a pleasant life. Smile at the memories of the strange (intriguing?) thing that I did.
Old man dresses as a superhero and walks the East Coast. Okay.
I’m impressed (a little bit).
But on top of all that, I also want to impress MYSELF. Now that I’ve learned a deeper level of self-respect, and if anything, that’s elevating and purifying the respect that I have for others, making it more authentic and real. Now that I have those things in my life, I want to shock myself and my friends.
The people who thought I’d never make it to Melbourne, and still can’t quite believe that I did.
Make their eyes pop out a bit.
Walk all the way around Australia.
More than 14,000 kilometres, a long walk following the coastline. Through some outright perilous areas, crocs, road trains, all that fun stuff in the remote upper west and north. Two years of continuous journey. And I trudge over the finish line, able to say (in absolute fairness) .. look at this.
So many people want our attention these days. Fakery. No merit. Absent any meaning or truth, they just want to make a bit of money, grow their own inflated (and often unjustified) ego. So much noise and confusion.
If I do a monolithic thing, complete a Quest that nobody (even myself) is completely sure I can do .. I can then turn around and say these two important things:
We can all reach out and do something significant to improve the world, to touch other lives in a positive way. We can all choose the magical over the mundane. YOU can. YOU should.
We lift each other up, elevate each other. Kindness is the antidote to sorrow. Look at the wonderful places and people met over the walk. Really see them. See the nourishment. See how we elevate one another and APPLY that rigorously in your daily life. Practice kindness, reject the fear, xenophobia, intolerance. Reject the false narratives, lies and misdirection around you. Be simple. Tell the truth. Be kind.
I think the world is darkening. It continues to slip into a place of confusion and distrust. Some of the greatest human suffering in history is still within living memory. Global war. Genocide. We are capable of ideology-driven hysteria. I think it’s isolation and paranoia that grows those things, and I think we’re becoming more isolated and paranoid. (Not projecting there, have a look, a REAL LOOK around you).
So if I can, with my little, insignificant life, make a statement at a larger level, something that might even get written down in a Wiki page somewhere, that someone else might take and carry forward subsequently. I think I have to do it.
There have been school-kids writing reports on CAPTAIN AUSTRALIA ! I find that all-at-once .. hilarious .. gorgeous … inspiring … and a tremendous validation. Those kids saw enough wonderment and strange, or enough authentic merit, to take the idea and carry it.
So .. that’s where my head is at.
In February, I plan to set out from Brisbane and walk all the way to Brisbane. (The long way around. Walk to Melbourne again, loop around, follow the south, west and north coasts, then arrive home after total circumnavigation on foot).
I’ll do it for the reasons I’ve tried to articulate above, but also the fun of it, the purity of an adventure, and the chance to exercise random acts of kindness.
I can’t go without some kind of financial security – a sponsor, otherwise we lose the family home. Sponsors aren’t lining up just yet (fingers crossed), so as an alternative, if I can find 2000 individuals willing to subscribe to my facebook page, that covers my basic monthly costs too (subscriptions are a buck a month).
I’m excited by that. If I (we?) can recruit more people to subscribe (and it’s a pretty painless and cheap thing to do) we basically crowd-fund kindness. Because, for example, if I had 10,000 subscribers, I can then give away $5000 a month, every month, when I’m on the road (and subscribers can help me choose where and who to help). Love that idea. Will it work ? No idea. I just know there are gamers in suburban Australia live-streaming while they play Minecraft, and they’re charging FIVE BUCKS per subscription and have 7000 subscribers.
So fingers crossed that people could see the possibility and merit in this. Fingers crossed that YOU do.
(Incidentally, I’ll appear on the SBS Show “Insight” on the 21st of September, talking about outliving your prognosis, with other panelists who survived stage 4 cancer).
The ultimate goal, once I get it off the ground, is also to raise ONE MILLION DOLLARS for paediatric cancer research. (“The Kids’ Cancer Project“) because no child should have to endure the grief, sorrow, isolation and pain that cancer brings into your life.
If you, lovely person reading this are slowly ticking boxes as you read, if you see the truth and the sincerity and possibility of it all, and want to show your support, this is how: