I sometimes refer to myself as a recovering Type A. That might be self-deception, wishful thinking or complete disillusionment — I’m not sure which. The thrill of being highly creative and productive is intoxicatingly electric. My sustenance is encapsulated in the charge of a published article, a sourdough starter exploding over maps of the next adventure, and homemade gnocchi waiting to be smothered in fresh tomato sauce.
When my little family embarked on our fantastical Australian adventure, I held high expectations of keeping up with my work and even creating new projects.
It didn’t quite happen that way. Reliable internet connection and opportunities to work were few and far between. We camped in nature’s most exquisite beauty, and yet I was slowly unraveling in the most uncomfortable way.
I was consumed with how to get to an Internet café to respond to emails and Facebook messages. I agonized over to-do lists and un-posted blogs. I cringed at missed deadlines and it was all so baffling and irritating. I just wanted to stop and appreciate the picture right in front of me, damn it. But I couldn’t find my peace.
She’s traveled around the sun 73 times. After spending 5 days camping along the Great Ocean Road, my family and I were prepared to volunteer as WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) on Ruth’s property. As we set down our bags amongst the affectionate clutter in her amorous home, I discovered that there was no Internet available here, either.
I snapped in a really, really satisfying way. Real-life oozed over my pixelated landscape and I saw for the first time in weeks. Maybe months.
I relished each and every one of Ruth’s stories. I really listened as she recounted her early days working with the aboriginals in Northern Territory. How she caught babies, nursed sick children and wrote love letters to her betrothed. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as she described camping in the expansive Australian outback, failing to lock with another pair of human eyes for days and days.
As we pulled up fresh onions from the yard, she taught me about wilderness gardening, planting by the moon and the art of raising 3 children. I was enthralled by her homemade shoes, various manuscripts in the works and shared in her exhilaration over the upcoming solar oven-building workshop. Her eyes twinkled as she described how she and her husband, Malcolm, are in the process of renovating a vintage camper van in their shed. His thoughts were not with the camper van however; this 78 year old man takes his wife on adventures on his motorbike. She sits in the sidecar. Seriously. After 49 years of marriage, they give each other massages to ease their sore muscles at the end of the day and say things like, “Thank-you sweetie.”
Then, just like that, Ruth pushed us out the door to hike a volcano, in the rain, she also made sure we had everything we needed to make a fire and roast marshmallows. In the rain.
In that constant beautiful mist washing over me, I realized that my careful self would never go outside in those conditions. Yet there I was, and there we were, walking through mud and majestic landscape, creating heat and experiencing utter joy. I imagined the earth crying tears of relief as she offered up her salty brine and I joined her, because I was wet and soggy and there’s no exultation in restraint.
photo by Jake Laub
Often referred to as a little firecracker, Mara Panacci is an international yoga teacher and holistic nutrition expert. She is the founder of Yoga Renegade, your rebellious playground, and co-muse at Accidental Renegade, helping yogis navigate the branding and marketing underworld. Nomadic adventurer and wellness devotee, Mara leads programs and workshops all over the world.