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
That simply is inspiring! If I knew I couldn’t fail, I’d open my own yoga and wellness retreat in some bright and sunny place, teaching those about the joy and passion of living beautifully!
Sounds like a great dream, Rebecca! Maybe you could start off on a smaller scale, you can still teach about passion and living beautifully, maybe an e-course?
Adding this to my queue. Thanks, Christy!
PS–Always wanted to take courses at Omega. So great that you worked there.
Kelly recently posted…15 Small Changes that Will Make a Big Difference in 2015
Just be aware that there are a few difficult scenes involving animals! Nothing is actually harmed though, it’s all for the sake of the story and what actually happened to Robyn.
Yes, I worked at Omega from 2006-2011. Certainly life-changing!
Very inspiring indeed! Love the quotes! Happy New Year!
Thanks, Carolann. The first quote especially is one that I have loved and really means a lot to me. It’s all about what you tell yourself you can do, and then following through.
Christy, your well written post blew me away! Really. Not sure what precisely I would do if I knew I couldn’t fail, but you certainly provided a sock of inspiration for thought and introspection. Really well done.
Wow, thanks Peggy! I’m in the middle of all that thought and introspection you mentioned. I’ll let you know when I come up with something good, haha.
I feel something very different when I travel alone than when I travel with my husband, extended family or coworkers. Although I enjoy sharing experiences with others, I also deeply love the feeling of knowing that I did something by myself.
Rachel recently posted…How to Act Around Short People
Exactly! It’s nice to hear from someone who has also traveled alone. Sure, there are occasions when I imagine someone like my husband standing next to me, but that sense of capability and self-reliance is so valuable. Plus, I know I wouldn’t meet as many other people if I was traveling with someone.
I used to travel alone for work, and I didn’t care for it at the time. Now that I would enjoy it, I can’t do it! But I do love the feeling I get when I accomplish something on my own.
Yes, I’m never as assertive as when I’m traveling alone. I feel like in my everyday life, I defer to others and let them take the lead, which I suppose is why I value solo travel so much.
Wow, the movie!!! I can’t wait to watch it.
By the way, I read Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World several years ago. I remember it so vividly.
Tamara recently posted…Go Ahead, Ask Me Anything.
I’d be curious to hear what you think! Like I mentioned to Kelly above, there might be a couple of scenes that are tough to watch, but they are very quick and nothing is gratuitous (except showing a camel’s you-know-what after he was castrated. that was unnecessary)- the animal-related tough to watch things reflect what actually happened to Robyn on her journey. That being said, I really liked it and I’m glad it wasn’t ‘Hollywood-ized’ like most book-to-movies are!
Hmmmm… what would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail? I think I would actually sit down and write these books that I have bouncing around in my head. Part of me thinks the reason I haven’t started is because I worry I’ll put all that time and effort in and then I’ll fail at getting them published.
Kristen @ 31 Million Seconds recently posted…Midweek Randomness
That’s a totally understandable worry. But you could have some unwritten books that are destined to become best sellers! Who knows?