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  • Writer's pictureClaire Gilbert

My hike in the outback of Australia turns into a metaphor.

“ All my other worries and fears fade away. I can do nothing about them, but I can climb this hill, that I can do.”

Hiking up this large hill is motivating. Some might call it a plateau, but I feel that gives me too much credit. I can somewhat see the top of it from the bottom, although it’s quite steep. There is no trail, just lots of large rocks and boulders and brush. I’m very careful where I put my feet, but after every few steps, I briefly look up to acknowledge my surroundings and assess my progress. I’m grinning from ear to ear, I don’t know why. It’s nice to focus on something so simple. All my other worries and fears fade away. I can do nothing about them, but I can climb this hill, that I can do. Nothing else enters my mind but the next step. Some are so large that my knee reaches my elbow. Step, step, step, step. I notice the storm clouds in the distance approaching, but I pay them no mind. They don’t matter. I matter. This hill matters. That is all there is.

I slow as I begin to reach the summit. Rewarding myself with the opportunity to appreciate the staggering view. Besides the small homestead of the station below, there is no civilisation in sight. Just rolling hills, watering holes, grand plateaus, and small mountains. Lush green as far as the eye can see, accompanied by the source of its life: large storm clouds, dumping buckets of rain in patches over the expansive 350,000 acres before me.

The heavy rain cloud seems to be approaching more quickly now, so I hedge on the side of safety and head down. This is different. It’s much more difficult to find my footing on the way down. It seems less forgiving of my inexperience. The rocks seem more dangerous as I imagine the result of a small mistake that could lead me to fall. I push this from my mind as I race downhill, hoping to beat my opponent, the storm.

It occurs to me that this seemingly insignificant hike much resembles my life recently. What will I do when I reach the bottom? Will I beat the storm, or will the buckets of rain be pouring on my head? Is that even a bad thing? Should I cut right through the unexplored bush to try and beat it, or head straight the way I came, trusting the navigable large rocks?

My visa in Australia is up in April, and after a few adventurous stops, I’ll be back home in May. I’m going home. That realisation hits me like a big whitewash wave.

I stare at my calendar, watching the days zoom by, I find myself once again, uncomfortable. I remember, months ago, I was so homesick I was in tears. That happened to me twice. Now, accompanying my longing for family, friends, stability, and the familiarity of home, is a very large dose of fear. I love my home dearly, but there is no work for me there, nothing to keep me progressing. Like my beloved sharks, if I don’t move forward, I die. I have a thirst for adventure. Without it, I am a parched, shell of a being. Going home brings me comfort and love, but it does not bring me life.

Before I know it, i’ve reached the bottom. I grin with victory, I have beat the storm. On my way back to my room, I contemplate this metaphor for my life. Even if I would not have beaten the storm, I would have smiled anyway. I love the rain. I choose to believe that I can do this with my life as well. Even if I don’t beat the storms ahead, I will smile and enjoy the rain as much as I would the sun, knowing that neither are permanent.

Until next time,

XOXO Claire Gilbert

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