“There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory” – Sir Francis Drake, 1587.
In the hearts of many boys and girls, there beats a desire to explore. For adventure. For unshackled freedom, only obtained by chasing the unknown.
The concept of “the adventure” is sold to us in pictures. Someone else captures the pure waters of an unexplored beach, or a dirt track in a faraway, exotic, and extremely muddy forest. Meanwhile, we get to sit on the couch spectating. Other people see what we “wish we could see” and do what we “wish we could do”. We read and watch the adventures of this small group of intrepid explorers with a mixed sense of envy and fear.
Proof of our addiction to this dream of a “someday” adventure can be found in the growing sale of off-road motorcycles and 4x4’s. Despite their intended purpose, so many are purchased as “shinies”, rarely leaving the city. The most rugged terrain they must conquer is the grassy patch outside the mall or navigating the car park at school. At best, they may see the occasional trip to a nearby mountain for a “boys” adventure. Never more than a stone’s throw from the safety and comfort of home and loved ones.
We watch explorers battle the elements and put themselves at risk, wishing we could do the same. If only. And it is in the if only that we hide our shame and our fear. If only I had time. If only I had the money. If only it wasn’t so dangerous. If only I did not have to look after the kids.
It is our fear of the unknown (or not yet known) that stops us from actually exploring.
In three days, a friend of mine names Luke and I are leaving on our first ever such adventure. Well, for me anyway. He picked up his life and took his bike and started riding some time ago. I am now caught in his wake like some piece of flotsam as I find myself inexplicably drawn to his adventure.
We are planning to travel 4500 kilometers from Brisbane to Winton (to see the dinosaurs), then off to the Undalara caves via Hugendon and the porcupine Gorge, then finally to Innisfail, where we plan to swim in the rock pools fed by Australia’s tallest (or widest depending on whom you believe) waterfall.
He will then head north to man the HMAS Mermaid as she patrols Australia’s coastline, and I will head back to Brisbane to tackle the corporate jungle. Hardly a trip through Russia or Syria, but still. It is baby steps towards those “great rides” yet to come.
Odd then, given the inherent dangers of our day to day lives, that I feel this much apprehension about being away for 10 days.
Can my world really come to an end in 10 days? Can the wheels really come off my business, my family, or my entire life if I am not at the helm for 10 days? Am I really that indispensable?
And of the 10 days, only 6 are “working days”. Have I created a life of cards so poorly constructed that 6 working days can spell disaster?
Time will tell.
Either way. With the bikes well stocked and the gear checked and re-checked, I am facing an elixir of fear and excitement as D-day draws near, with a stoic enthusiasm to succeed and have fun. Odd then that the greatest challenge for the 10 days is not the route. Nor the discomfort the journey will demand as payment for the rewards of not-unexpected beauty and a taste of freedom.
Rather, the greatest challenge is overcoming the fear and apprehension I feel in stepping out of my safely constructed world.
We will document our travels as we abandon the safety and security of our families, our companies and our “normal” lives. Our goal, to discover for ourselves yet unseen sections of this beautiful country, that to date we have only salivated over in travel magazines and shows on ABC1.
In the process, as we try to unleash what is left of our inner adventurers, we will test the veracity of the words of Sir Francis Drake and see if finishing this will indeed “yield true glory”.