When I looked at the date a moment ago I realised it has been over a week since I last posted to this website, and it got me thinking about what I had achieved since then. In short The Long Walk Home has bubbled in limbo for the past 7 days as I struggled to find time to do anything other then eat, sleep, work and train. Since making this realisation a mere 2 minutes ago I have decided that things need to change.
My parent’s recently returned from a holiday and upon walking in the door my mum sat me down and told me something that left me gobsmacked.
She told me my brother had gone camping.
Having grown up in Birdsville my brother had had his fair share of dust, swags and starry nights, but I have not heard the words Gary and camping in the same sentence in a long, long time. Needless to say I’m glad I was sitting down. I imagine Gary would be most comfortable at a race track with a best bets in one hand, a beer in the other, and hopefully a wad of cash in his pocket…not camping in a tent. Upon learning this new information I started to think about how people push outside their comfort zone.
Although walking across the Simpson Desert is certainly out of my comfort zone, walking is not. I enjoy walking. I enjoy places where people are kept to a minimum and nature is allowed to spread its wings. So as much as people keep telling me what an amazing feat it will be to cross the desert, I am still waiting for nerves to kick in as to me it is just walking with a thousand odd hills and a bit of sand thrown in for good measure. That’s not to say I think it will be easy. Far from it actually, as I am certain that during the trek my legs will hurt, my feet will get a few blisters from the sand getting into my shoes, my back will be sore and I’m sure I’ll be tired at the end. However I do firmly believe that your mind can withstand much more then your body, and as such if you can control it then you can make your body do anything.
Furthermore, when I look at what the human body, and more importantly what the human mind can endure, I am left speechless and wondering if my body or mind would break first if pushed to its limit. For Christmas last year I was given a book called The Long Walk (by Slavomir Rawicz) which tells his story of being a polish prisoner in a Soviet labour camp, and eventually escaping and walking to freedom. It is by far and away one of the most powerful and epic books I have ever turned the pages of. Not only did the small group of prisoners face adversity that one can not even imagine, they did it with nothing more then and axe, some pieces of animal skin for shoes and clothing, food on the rare occasion and water on the even rarer occasion. As a reader you follow the walk from the north of a freezing Siberia, south through Mongolia, across the sweltering Gobi desert, over the Himalayas and finally into India. Along the way they hid from everyone (unable to trust anyone until much further south), walked for every daylight hour, lost 3 people to mother nature, covered over 4000 miles over more than a year, and eventually were able to say ”we are safe” when they came upon soldiers at the end of it all. It is written in a way which leaves a pit of despair in your stomach at the events and conditions faced by people who were the puppets in a regime which brought terror and torture to innocent people. For me the book is both a tale of unimaginable hell, as well as a beautiful portrayal of the human spirit in spite of death, torture and numbness. Reading it has made what I do each day seem easy, even if it feels hard at the time, and it made me realise that no matter what happens to my body and feet while walking across the desert, nothing it throws at me can come close to what was experienced by the group of people in The Long Walk.
Even if you have no intention of ever walking further then your front fence, as I already have your attention can I suggest picking the book up when you’re next at a book store. It will leave an impression on you and how you choose to make use of that impression is up to you. Although all our comfort zones are different, compared to what some people in this world go though I think we are never really that far out of them regardless of what our body or mind may think.