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Disruption and shedding skins

It’s just over three months since we left home. We're enjoying the city buzz of Adelaide before we turn our nose east and north arriving home mid-September.

One of the things that we’ve noticed about this road trip is that among the beauty and adventure, it has also been unsettling and disruptive.

In the first days on the road, we quickly realised we were going to have to get used to not having all the conveniences of life at home in a house. The conveniences of making tea or coffee whenever we wanted it. The simplicity of turning on a heater or AC if cold or hot. The convenience of a fridge, [hot]shower, clean loo, a roof over our head for shade or rain shelter. The ease of booking a doctor’s appointment when in need. And so forth.

Letting go of these conveniences also required a letting go of a kind of order, habits of living, that are now gone. Every day, we must think about light, shelter, shade, fuel, where to get fresh food (and if any is available within 500km).

And so, we realise how much of life at home is about ‘being settled’ – those conveniences and eases which make settling easy.

We’ve both experienced this unsettling and disruption in different ways:

Peter: As we walked in the Flinders Ranges recently, I thought a lot about it. On one hand I know I am a man of routines. Morning cuppa. Meditation. A walk. A slow easing into the day. Or quiet nights, early to bed as a lark. The trip disrupts these routines quickly. Camps are noisy places. So, I’ve had to embrace [sometimes not very successfully] the disruption of noisy camp neighbours.

But, on the other hand the sense of disruption feels more like ‘shedding skin’. Old skins. Old skins as habits of identity and thinking. To awake and not think about work, or myself as a worker. To rest easy with being non-productive. Just being okay with a walk, a wander. Not achieving much. It feels like I am shedding old snake skins, which feels expansive and at times unsettling in my soul. For what am I, if not a writer, a worker, a teacher, a facilitator? It’s good for me. But hard.

Rachael: I’ve felt less disrupted by the everyday inconveniences of this trip - except of course the disruption to morning yoga - that took a while to get used to! I’ve enjoyed letting go of normal routines and have embraced the unknown adventure of travel (mostly). I’ve even loved parts of this disruption, it feels freeing to live more simply, to live within the elements (without much protection), to be outside when it’s uncomfortable (hot, cold, wet), to not really know what will unfold on any given day in any given place. I’ve felt exposed to and expanded by life in new ways, and I’ve really loved the new level of contact with nature (except for that crazy mosquito night in Kakadu….!).

One disruption that has been challenging is the need to negotiate and compromise on many more aspects of everyday life on the road. Things that wouldn’t normally even require a conversation (e.g. washing day, pack-up times), now require planning and negotiating…together! Sharing travel for four months has meant much less independence, which has required me to step into being much clearer about my needs as well as accounting for another’s needs and opening to the phenomena of life on the road and what it calls for. This has been a disruptor to my usual habits and stretched me beyond comfort at times, but it’s also allowed me to grow in new ways (and constantly think of the greater we, not just me ).

P&R: We’ve both realised that being settled, while comfortable, can also lead to stagnation, routines (that might have once been living rhythms but have decayed into routine), and habits of mind that are no longer serving life. So, part of this road trip – being uncomfortable with less conveniences, stretching into new habits – has been unsettling. Disrupting. Disruption as life-giving.

We’re loving the exposure of living mostly outside on the road. As such, we’re somewhat apprehensive about the return – not to home (because we love home) - but to the almost inevitable succumbing to being settled again. Of course, to be unsettled requires the polarity of being settled. So, we turn to home soon, with an intention of holding the polarity of settled-unsettled more consciously.

What’s your experience of the polarity between being settled and unsettled?

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