Thursday, 19 August 2010

Journeyman

Our recent trip to Cairns has had some personal resonance with me. Some ten years, Cairns was the final stop in my driving tour of Australia's east coast. Back then I was an Israeli tourist; immediately afterwards I started working on my move to Australia. Now, in this second visit of mine to Cairns, I come as an Australian. You will be right in saying that a lot has changed over those last ten years.
The first unavoidable comparison between that old trip and our new visit is the sheer amount of stuff I got to see back then. On my own, fit and in the mood for exploration, I managed to pack more into a single day of travel than we managed to fit a whole week this time around. Extrapolate that experience over the period of a month and it becomes clear that during that single month I spent in Australia ten years ago I probably got to see more than the majority of Australian born ever get to see of their country.
Then again, there are things I missed seeing back then. I did the tourist destinations, mostly the natural ones, but I failed to see much about the culture. To name but two examples, I didn't realize just how dominant alcohol and sports are in Aussie culture, and I failed to see the contradiction between the strict formality of office life and the extreme abandonment of going to the pub for afternoon drinks. Back then I just got to see Australia the way a naive Israeli would.
Looking at my own person, I can clearly see how my last ten years have changed me. At their beginning, before the bursting of the Internet bubble, I was this young and arrogant guy who thought the whole world is his for the taking; now I'm a tired father with much more of a social conscious, although still too lazy to do much about it. More importantly, back then I was on my own; now I'm travelling with the people I love the most, people without which my life would seem pointless and meaningless.
I may be ten years older now, but I think I'm much a much wiser, complete person than I was before. I am glad I did that big road trip around Australia: that journey was the catalyst without which I would never be where I am now. Journeys, it seems, have a special way of getting on to you, proving that it's not getting there that matters but rather how you get there. I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

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