Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Written from a Baby Change Station

Written June 20

What am I doing?

The immediate answer to that question is easy. I’m sitting in the baby change station of a national park because it is the only place with power outlets.*

But seriously, what the hell am I doing?

That is a tougher question. Floundering. Being uncertain. Flailing at no particular direction and to no audience.

I have the weekdays to strike out from Sydney, getting away and seeing new things. I’ve spent the majority of my time here in cities, doing city things. Always based in one place. Usually spending too much money solely on rent. And so I’m trying to see new things and save money at the same time. Therein lies the problem.

It is winter down here. And that means it gets cold. And dark. The sun is down from about 5pm until 7am. And the temperature at night is about 10C or below. I’m currently wearing a tee, a long sleeve, a hoodie, and a flannel. And I’m still not warm. If I weren’t camping out in a baby changing room, the only light would be that of the monitor and possibly my headlamp.

So with only 10 hours of daylight to use, I try to make the most of it. See what is around, drive on to the next spot. If I see a photo op, stop. But even if I am really productive in seeing things – which I’ve yet to be – I still get to the end of the day with energy and time. So then what to do with the 14 hours of cold and dark? Well, writing seems to take up a good portion of it. And were I sleeping in my car just in town, I could go camp out in a bar with a cup of tea until they close. That would be my $4 rent for the night before I crawled into a sleeping bag. It is functionally what I did last night. But tonight my camp site is even further from civilization. About half an hour. And so to go to a bar and pull the same maneuver would mean another hour or more until I got to sleep after leaving.

And really, what is the point of it all? Being that guy paying rent on a table in a bar before going to sleep poorly in the back of my car, so I can wake up and do it all over again with one more day since I’ve last showered? All to save $20 a day? Is this really what I want to be doing?

I can say that it isn’t ideal. But I don’t know what I would rather be doing. I sat in my car at nightfall tonight. Where to next? Stay in Jervis Bay where I’ve already driven around the coast in the hopes of doing a walk tomorrow? Head up to the mountain nearby to camp and do a four hour hike tomorrow? Head down the coast to another possible camping and hiking area? Or head the three hours inland to Canberra so that Thursday and Friday can be spent in a city seeing museums?

All have their benefits. All have their drawbacks. And I just honestly don’t know what I want. There isn’t an academic me fighting an intuitive me. There is no intuition. No gut feeling. I don’t like cold, but I don’t like throwing money down a hole. I don’t know if I want city time in a new city or if I want mountain time or just exercise. I really have no idea what it is that I want.

I can say that I want a companion. It is fine to be in a city alone. You can be as alone as you want and the second that gets old you can turn to the person next to you and ask how they’re doing. And to be in the wilderness alone feels liberating for a day or two. But thinking on it, with the Overland I still had conversations every night. With most of my camping trips I go with people. When people don’t talk, it seems weird. And every time I’ve gone camping solo, I do one night and one hike and then come back refreshed. Perhaps I’m not meant to be completely alone in the wilderness.

I can say that I want stimulation. I am out of doors because I am terrible at managing distractions. Staying in hostels with tvs on in the common areas (which is nearly all of them) derails much of my writing and thinking. I am escaping distraction out here. No one to talk to. No inane conversations to pull me away from writing or thinking. And yet I can’t seem to think other than to write and let it flow out of me. My brain will not just work on ideas. So what stimulation is there? In the city I can walk around, noticing buildings and people, shops and graffiti, the nuances, the intent behind everything. Out here there is no intent. There is no plan. And there are no streetlights to illuminate it at night. I am in the dark and I have nothing to prompt me. I get away from everything and all I want to do is read all the open tabs I’ve been meaning to get to for months.

I can say that I want something to wow me. In the cities I seem to have those moments more. And with other people, the conversation tends to enlighten me. Or at least distract me. But here, now, nothing is wowing me. All of today was spent poking around this area. Yes, it is a beach. And it is pretty. But I don’t really know what it was supposed to do for me. Just that it didn’t.

So here I am with two days left. Do I want more beach? No. Do I want to hike? Probably. Maybe not hiking per se, but exercise. I could just as easily hit that in walking around a city all day in museums. Do I want someone to talk to? If I’m going to be out here, yes. In the city, it would be nice to find as well.

So how do I get that? Really any option could do it. And then again, it might not.

I don’t like it here. I’m not comfortable. But I’m learning. And perhaps that is something worth suffering for. Learning just where my lines are when it comes to being cheap, seeing nature vs. cities, and traveling alone.

I can manage the rest of the week like this. But is there any point?

* I feel this may diminish the serious nature of the flailing I’m about to do, but I should note that I hear a marching band. I am in a national park on one end of a bay (Jervis Bay to be precise). I can hear waves, birds, and a marching band. Sounds like a high school marching band. Much closer than I would imagine there to be a high school.

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This entry was posted on June 24, 2012 by in Australia, NSW (Sydney), Self Analysis.

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