There comes a time in everyone’s life when we need to escape. We run for various reasons. For some it’s a rebellion, for others a chance to find themselves. We can run towards something or run away, even if we are not exactly sure what that something is.
Fourty years ago, 25-year-old girl decided it was her time to break free. She was running away from boredom, a series of unfinished repetitions her life was becoming and her “self-indulgent negativity“. This petite blond decided to leave everything she knew and move to Alice Springs with a dream in mind. She would walk 1,700 miles across Western Australian desert, accompanied solely by Diggity, her loyal dog, and a few camels.
Thus began the story of Robyn Davidson, author of one of the best traveling books of all times. In “Tracks”, Robyn not only describes her remarkable expedition from the centre of Australian outback to the Indian Ocean, but tackles her personal journey and a process of discovering the person she was meant to become.
Although many came across Robyn’s story thanks to the magnificent movie starring talented Mia Wasikowska, for anyone interested in a true journey within the book is a must. Throughout the pages Davidson vividly depicts not only the crude magnificence of Australia’s wilderness, but she also honestly portrays the strenuous and less poetic points on her life’s map.
Before she takes us on the desert together with Dookie, Bub, Zeleika and Goliath, Robyn has to learn how to train her camels. She must acquire all her skills and knowledge from scratch, in a world she hates, among people who often either try to use her or ridicule an idea of a woman trying to accomplish such an arduous trek alone. She has to endure the ever-present racism, chauvinism and drunken brutality that prevailed in Alice Spring in the seventies. But it’s a part of her journey and she must persist.
Setting out on this brave travel, Robyn was not planning to write a book. She did not plan to sell her story, she wasn’t doing it to prove anything to anyone. Her escape was her way of minimising, a means “to pare away what was unnecessary“, as she put it in “Tracks”. She instinctively felt she had to leave things behind to make space for the new. She didn’t always know where the tracks she was following would take her, but she hoped that the journey from desert to the ocean would change the landscape within her as well.
“So I had made a decision which carried with it things that I could not articulate at the time. I had made the choice instinctively, and only later had given it meaning. The trip had never been billed in my own mind as an adventure in the sense of something to be proved. And it struck me then that the most difficult thing had been the decision to act, the rest had been merely tenacity – and the fears were paper tigers. One really could act to change and control one’s life; and the procedure, the process, was its own reward”.
Robyn made a decision. A decision many questioned, scorned, failed to believe in. But despite everyone’s opinions, she patiently prepared and worked towards it.
What will you decide to act upon? What process will be your reward?
Wherever your decision takes you, I hope you find your tracks.