It was late August 2006. I had backpacked through Europe the year before and had an open-ended trip cross-country and on to Hawaii ahead of me. I found myself working at the Omega Institute for two months and spending a lot of time in the library.
Several books in the tiny travel section spoke to me: Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa, Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman, and Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson (those are affiliate links, FYI). Each one is about a woman traveling by herself and doing things she couldn’t have conceived of in her previous life. Each one is inspirational in its own way.
Tracks follows Robyn Davidson’s journey walking 1,700 miles across the western desert of Australia, accompanied by her dog and four camels. She spends two years in the outpost town of Alice Springs as she prepares for the nine-month trek: working with camels, training them, and learning about the outback. Ms. Davidson reluctantly agrees to be photographed by a National Geographic photographer when she realizes she can’t fund the trip on her own. The article she wrote to accompany those photos paved the way for her memoir, published in 1980, and tonight I watched the film adaptation, also titled Tracks. I loved the last scene, when Robyn reaches her destination: no words are needed to convey her happiness and sense of accomplishment as she goes for a celebratory swim in the Indian Ocean.
Thinking of her incredible experience brings to mind the question What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
Words that came to mind as I picture Robyn walking across the desert: perseverance. Strength. Dedication. Commitment. Integrity. Courage. Of course, these traits are applicable to any endeavor, not just travel. I often ask myself if any of them apply to me. I think I’m still trying to figure out what I would do if I knew I couldn’t fail.
But oh, how inspiring this film is (which, happily, doesn’t stray far from the book at all). How inspiring women like Robyn Davidson, Rita Golden Gelman, and Jamie Zeppa are. I love that there are endless ways to succeed, to inspire, and to go beyond your own expectations.
What film or book has inspired you recently? Who do you admire for their tenacity and strength? Would you ever take a long journey like the one Robyn Davidson did?
I’ll leave you with the trailer for the film, as well as two excerpts from the memoir:
The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision.
There are some moments in life that are like pivots around which your existence turns—small intuitive flashes, when you know you have done something correct for a change, when you think you are on the right track. I watched a pale dawn streak the cliffs with Day-glo and realized this was one of them. It was a moment of pure, uncomplicated confidence—and lasted about ten seconds. –Robyn Davidson, Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback