I grew up at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges to the east of Melbourne. From our kitchen windows, we had a clear view of the low-rising hills. Their quiet presence was a fixture of my childhood landscape yet they were always changing with daylight’s flow then ebb, ripening from forest green to dark teal to dark purple-tinged grey.
I loved those hills. Whenever we ventured away to visit relatives, my first glimpse of those hills on our return journey was how I knew I was almost home. As a teenager, I promised myself they were always how I would know I was home.
But in my early twenties, the city drew me near. I could feel its pulse, throbbing with life. In comparison, the outer suburbs felt stagnant and lacklustre. Over the years, I moved closer and closer to the city until I lived an arms length from the central business district, from where I could no longer see the mountains and I no longer called them home. I created a life I thought would make me happy. I lived in a trendy inner suburb immersed in café culture and bars. I had a blossoming career with the six-figure salary, regularly flying interstate and even moving interstate for a six-month project, my input and insight in demand. I shared a home with a man I loved and who was my partner of five years.
For a while, I lived happily in the city. I reveled in its pleasures, its sexiness, its constant distracting action as well as my financial freedom but as the years passed by I walked blindly into a web of incomprehensible sadness, depression and despair. On the outside, I smiled. I said all the right things about how wonderful my life was. But inside I was crumbling and behind closed doors I cried. Daily, I cried. And I didn’t understand why. I didn’t understand how I could feel so miserable when I had built my perfect life.
I didn’t know it at the time but I had already been gifted the first of many golden threads that have enabled me to swing through the jungle of my confusion and onto a new path in life. I discovered scuba diving and on my second dive I locked gaze with a small green turtle and fell in love. In an instant I knew that although we were different, we were connected, like all creatures and humans are connected in a way that we often don’t understand. She saw me, and I saw her, in essence. And she gifted to me the wisdom of wonder.
This dive, this connection, changed my life. My holidays were planned around scuba diving so I could be in nature and in the sea. I wanted to see more turtles, to experience that wonder over and over again. This light temporarily penetrated my darkness but still I lived mainly in sadness until I finally mustered the courage to change everything that was making me unhappy. I ended my relationship, I quit my job without another job to go to and just as I became comfortable in my new life, I followed an incessant calling to travel and go diving. I packed up the life I had just built and moved to Thailand to fulfill my diving dreams, to complete my rescue diver, dive master and eventually dive instructor courses.
And this is where I woke up.
Drenched in tangerine fireball sunsets, floating on the azure sea, submerged in her depths, held neutrally buoyant in oneness, surrounded by the tropical island landscape and the ever-changing sky.
I woke up.
To beauty, to endless wonder, to freedom, to spirit, to what really matters in my life.
My dormant connection to this earth re-awakened and ignited. I lived my days alive, free, filled with wonder and gratitude.
The earth called me home and reminded me of my true nature.
I fell in love with life, the earth and myself.
I have come back to the city for the inner work I have to do to continue my awakening but I have come back changed and I will never be the same. I don’t want to be the same. I don’t want the life I lead before. I don't want to live asleep.
For now, I once again live amongst tall buildings but the energy that once drew me to the city now repels. I crave open space, to see the sky, to feel the earth cradle my body so my spirit can breathe.
My needs are far simpler than I ever expected. I can survive without the latest fashions, eating out at restaurants and cafes, and drinking at bars but without witnessing the natural beauty of this earth, my inner light languishes.
I am a child of the earth. I need space, sea, sky, silence and solitude the way one needs air, water, food and shelter to survive.
Those childhood hills were my first connection to this earth. I may have walked away. I may have forgotten for a while. But the earth never stopped calling for me. When I was ready, I heard and understood.
Those sunsets opened my eyes. The sea unblocked my ears. The simplicity and complexity of the natural world awakened my spirit. Through being present with all that was around me, paying attention and witnessing with wonder, I found my way back home.
|My first sunset in Thailand, Kata Beach, Phuket|
|Green turtle. One of my favourite sea creatures.|
|My favourite Thailand sunset ever, Naiharn Beach, Phuket 2011|