So it was the third day after Christmas and I woke up at 5am, eager to get as close to the NSW border as I possibly could.
I felt as though I wouldn’t have left home until I crossed that border. It was my first real milestone.
First up, here’s the video compiling photos, streams and comments from the day:
I was trying my best with the streaming, trying to share – and starting to get feedback from the public (which I didn’t really believe in my heart yet) that this act, this Quest, was inspiring. That people were GETTING something from it.
The thing is, just articulating my motivations was helping me. It was a kind of therapy. Talking about cancer, or my morbid gallows humour waiting room games.
By trying to explain what I thought and felt, I was also … refining it. The big walk was a process of stripping myself back to basics, and also rebuilding.
I certainly wasn’t there yet, but this sharing – ultimately it helped guide me to my healing.
So I started in this smoko shed out back of some factories, driving rain all night and morning. I had decided long ago that no matter the weather, I’d move forward – no wet-weather layovers (although I did have one in Mallacoota over the Victorian border maybe 75 days or so down the track).
I started out at the factory on Hope Island, then pushed on toward Paradise Point. People were beeping and waving a lot, I think being on the tellie had helped with awareness.
With the lightened bag, I was doing a lot better with weight and pace, so I set out, also intending to find a BUNNINGS so that I could pick up a better tarp, as my tablecloth solution had ended with a well deserved soaking.
Fate had different (and better) plans in mind for me. About an hour later I was walking down the main drag, headed east for the beach, when I met Murray and Donna.
This lovely couple had seen the stream the night before, and sought me out, finding me on the road. They’d bought a nice sturdy tarp for me, which was great, but Murray also gave me his mother’s blanket. He’d lost her to brain cancer, and he felt that giving me that blanket somehow honoured her, and gave her loss meaning. I was humbled and delighted by that.
Every time I’d talk to the camera in live stream, I was refining my own personal understanding of the Quest. It had been instinct – an idea that HOPE could rebuilt in my life. But as I tried to explain that, tried to articulate that as clearly as possible – I was refining my OWN understanding of my motivations.
That’s the beauty of the live streams. In a forest, on the beach, all alone. You feel like you’re talking to an angel on your shoulder, and it’s a special kind of therapy. You can’t really plan or rehearse a livestream, you have to talk straight from the heart. I like that. And yeah, I guess YOU became my therapist. And the positive feedback, the idea that what I was doing was Good & Righteous – that was a special kind of gift. Because Kindness is the antidote to sorrow. And I was starting to learn that my Quest was about that – Hope and Kindness.
“Hope is a circle that we create together”
I always felt under the pump in those first days of walking. I loved meeting people, I loved the sights and smells and experiences of the road – but I always felt behind where I was supposed to be.
Eventually I was able to let it go, but I was obsessing a bit about:
- being away from my kids, and how long it was going to take before I could see them again
- impressing YOU, showing that I wasn’t a joke, that the Quest was a true thing, that I wanted to earn your regard so that you would support the charity.
Anyway, Paradise Point – I was at the ocean ! It still took me a few hours to get there, and it wasn’t until after nightfall that I got to the main beach at Surfer’s Paradise.
The Gold Coast felt rough to me, to be honest. Tweed Heads was a little worse, it felt like a contaminated borderland – meth, homelessness, hopelessness, it felt .. heartsick. (But more on that later). In the Gold Coast, it was party night (even on a tuesday) and there were lots of young guys out and about. Not really particularly curious about the underlying WHY of things (as I have always been), but more in the shiny bits. So they saw me and laughed (sometimes mockingly), not really wanting to understand what I was about.
So I popped into COLES and quickly bought myself a dirty bird (what we, for some reason call those hot-box chooks they sell), and then legged it through the Gold Coast’s main drag as quickly as I could. No interest in engaging, let’s just get away from these people and onto the beach.
Once I got there, I liked the way my shadow looked on the sand and took this photo. I reckon it feels a bit like a man on the moon or something 🙂
So I found myself plodding down the beach, after dark, weather worsening, launching into a long and rambling live-stream, and wondering where I would sleep.
As a general guideline I knew never to pitch camp in the dark – too many hazards. Tripping being the biggest, pests, snakes, falling tree limbs, all that other stuff as well.
So I walked through the dark, talking to you, realising I should camp pretty soon, when I saw these young guys walking toward me.
This was a pretty funny encounter, because they hadn’t actually seen me yet (it was really dark) and when they did, they started to veer away and then RUN. I waved and said I was harmless – and when we spoke later, they explained that they thought I was one of these weird long-neck birds, but grown massive and aggressive (haha). I don’t know what the breed of bird is, but they have a long and slender neck, and in the dark the flag on the back of my pack looked like that to them.
This is also where my “A Flock of Seagulls” mental break began. I noticed a flock by the oceanside in my night-time walk, and this song “I ran (so far away)” burst into my mind full-blown, and thereafter, all down the coast, whenever I saw a flock of seagulls, the song came with it.
It was 9:46pm when I set up camp, in the dark. It was on a narrow strip of beach just off from Miami skyscrapers. I didn’t realise at the time, but in dunes very nearby (maybe 5 metres away) there was a small enclave of homeless people camped – but although I wondered how much of a hazard people would be when I was planning my BIG WALK, as I progressed I realised that people weren’t really much of a danger.
Sure, there may be out-and-out psychos in the world, and yes, there is definitely cruelty and vapid, selfish evil out there.
But I’ve also seen tremendous light. Kindness. Integrity. Honesty. Decency. And I think for the most part .. although it can be hidden, and even locked away deep .. that light is aching to burst out of us.
We just don’t always feel safe or justified in realising it so we ‘hide our light under a bushel’ as they say.
I personally think that’s bloody tragic – because the thing about kindness .. it grows and propagates in the sharing. I firmly believe that if we are to make our lives bloom, kindness is the key ingredient. That and a dash of hope that positive change is available to us, if we do the work.
Next Up ? DAY 4 .. click the graphic to go there.