To make hummus; blend two cans of chickpeas with several cloves of garlic, a sprinkle of cumin, a slosh of olive oil, a bit of tahini and a few grinds of salt and pepper. Spread as much as you want across a piece of two day old bread. Top with grated carrot, a few slices of cheddar, one roasted red pepper, a couple of sun-dried tomatoes and a handful of spinach leaves. Repeat this for three years and you will find yourself bored of a sandwich. I sat down at the same table, across from the same people and looked at the same sandwich for the 678th time. “Fuck”, I thought. There has to be another way.
I spent five weeks in 2019 living in a meaningful way. Meaningful for me at least. I didn’t tick any of the boxes on the ‘Meeting Society’s Expectations’ to-do list. I hiked, I camped, I swam all too briefly in the sea. I watched the sunrise on mountain tops, over the ocean. I was outside. Not exploring exactly but definitely adventuring. These journeys did not last long. Never more than a few weeks, rarely longer than a weekend. The problem with coming home is, as it has always been, how to get away again? I had no idea when David and I first walked across Brussels that this simple act would be the start of something bigger. Our bags weighed as much as a small child. We were lucky. We only had to carry them for three months, not for 18 years. By the time we came home the weight was manageable, it was everything we needed. One year on I packed my life down into another bag. Ignoring everything I left in my parents home, this was my entire life. There were possessions I carried across two continents. There were objects left behind. When I came home, I already had eyes on my nearest escape route. I closed the door on my bedroom and caught a plane to Australia. Two years later I came home having lost everything. I opened the door to find nothing had changed.
In the beginning there was nothing. A lie is easy to tell. The idea has always been there. I have planned it out, I have believed in it, I have buried it. I have lived a bigger lie. The problem with having a fresh start is exactly that. Doing anything with something so pure is only going to ruin it. Like the first page of a new journal, the worst thing you can do is start filling the blank sheet. The only thing you can do is start. After a year and a half I started walking again. My bag started to fill. Soon I was carrying fewer clothes and more essentials; a tent, a sleeping bag, several days worth of food. This really was my life on my back. Now that I have started I must keep moving forward. The closest I’ve come to expressing a serious interest in having a place of permanent residence is through the comparative study of Big Agnes and MSR’s lightweight tent offerings. Having previously lived out of a tent for an almost continuous 88 days I find comfort in a living space not much larger than a coffin. I lived in a shoebox apartment in Melbourne that consisted of two and a half rooms. I am not worried about having that much room to live. The argument I’m not making here is that if you don’t need a house, you don’t need a job. What follows is a statement that comes from a position of white male privilege. Without a job, I am free. Another way.
Has there been a motivational message stronger than Shia LaBeouf screaming “DO IT!” to come out of the last ten years? If there has, I haven’t heard it and I don’t need to. Do it. Whatever it is. Have something different for lunch. The hardest thing you can do is start. Set some plans in concrete and drop them off the end of a pier. I submitted my visa application, I booked my flight, I told my landlord I wasn’t renewing the lease, I gave notice to my boss. As a man who often said “never go back”, I’m doing it again. I’m going back to New Zealand!