Wednesday, September 30, 2009

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Time Out ...


By the time you read this, I will have returned, all being well, to the routines of my usual life. But right now, as I write this blog, I am actually in-transit, on one of my ‘time-out excursions’ far from the trappings of civilization.
I try to take one or two time-out trips each year. For me they an opportunity to gather my thoughts, let my collection of small injuries heal somewhat and commune with the world in a non-technological way (except for the act of writing up this blog). I enjoy remote places; I always have. I have hiked in the Himalayas, I have trekked across the vast green Mongolian steppe; walked the remote Arnhem Land escarpment, climbed over the southern Alps in New Zealand and swam up pristine rivers and through hidden gorges; I have limped across deserts, stalked through lush green jungles and camped out on desert islands. Remote places have star-filled skies; they are blanketed, at times in deep quiet; they remind me of who we are, as a species and allow for a better perspective and view of our place on this spinning globe.
As I write this blog, I watch the sun sink into the sea on an island in remote New Caledonia. Thoughts of my family run through my mind, as do thoughts of my school and my students. Each of us presents ourselves to the wider world in a certain way; but we all know there is far more to each of us than that which we hold up for public view. We have the face we present to our family, the face we present to our co-workers, the face we present to our employer or employees; etc – but at the end of the day, we are left with just our inner self – that aspect of us that rises to the surface when we are not under scrutiny or in the company of others. I think it is healthy practice to draw our various countenances closer in to the truth of who we are, so we act and behave with greater congruence and more in harmony with who we really are. Each of us, in any number of subtle ways, compromises, acquiesces, bends, gives, takes, pushes, forces and toils to make comfortable and workable lives for ourselves within our families, our work environments and our social networks – and at each and every interaction with another human being, we open ourselves up to the possibility of adding yet another layer of make-up to the face we present to the world. A part of the reason I like to get away and take my time-outs each year is that they provide me with the opportunity to discard some of the excess ‘build up’ and clean the inner-house so to speak. My guess is that most people spend quite a lot of energy conforming and presenting themselves to the world in the ways they think they should present themselves. This, no doubt, consumes a lot of energy and eventually starts to ‘weigh heavy’. I think many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a convenient means of shedding some of the excess weight they are constantly carrying around, if even only for a few hours. I myself, turn to the wilds …
JBW

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