There is a road
When you see the two sides of it
at that far horizon
and deep in the foundations
of your own heart
at exactly the same time,
That’s how you know
it’s the road you have to follow.
~ From the poem
Just beyond yourself by David Whyte
I opened my diary this week. The last entry is dated Tuesday, 5 March 2019 — Arrive at Dune Cottage, Normanville. Along with some of my personal papers, my diary has been boxed and stored to keep it safe and private while we traversed three states in our renewed search for a home. I’m not sure why I left it behind. An error of judgement and one of a number of lessons learned on the journey to find a home.
The first lesson is that you should keep your diary with you at all times if you want to stay motivated and productive. It keeps you steady. It helps to create a routine even when there doesn’t seem to be room for routine. Other lessons: you should write in your journal every day; and meditate as you’ve practiced for the past twelve weeks; and draw. I know that rituals and habits help maintain my equilibrium, yet I dropped them like hot potatoes on our road trip.
We completed two journeys, returning briefly from the first after a month. When we set off on our first road trip at the beginning of March, summer was lingering. It was hot and the land was parched, we swam in the ocean, slapped on sunscreen and wore hats all the time. On our return to New South Wales a week ago, the landscape had changed. There were swathes of green across the hills and valleys, the sun was lower in the sky and the leaves were beginning to to turn the colours of autumn. A lot has changed since the beginning of March. Yet some things are still the same.
One thing that’s still the same is that we have not found a house. The quest has been exhausting. Driving long distances, checking the internet each night to see if we missed something that could be a potential dream house, or even for something that wasn’t. We looked for something new, a nearby town that we bypassed, a town that we’d been to previously — we tracked anything that could provide a glimmer of hope.
Our travels took us inland across New South Wales, through Albury and across the border into the state of Victoria. We passed cattle farms and wind farms, slowed through tiny country towns with only a church and a general store, and we hustled along highways. We explored the Yarra Valley through Healesville and Marysville, discovered the chestnut, apple and cherry growing districts of Myrtleford and Mansfield, and stopped in the trendy town of Beechworth.
We drove through Ballarat and Horsham, gazed in awe at the mural covered Viterra grain silos at Coonalpyn in South Australia before driving through the towns of Meadows and Mount Compass to the coastal town of Normanville. Our search in South Australia took us through the dry hills of Whites Valley, Hindmarsh Valley, Mount Jagged and McClaren Vale. Our hopes were raised and then dashed as we followed leads through even more towns.
We looked at property in Willunga and then in Yankalilla. We returned to Adelaide and considered a townhouse in the city. We found acreage among the vineyards, but there was no water for a garden. We followed trails to what we thought were perfect dream houses, to find that they were false leads.
The internet descriptions were great, conversations with the agent made our hopes soar, and we started talking about how we could use the land, about changes we could make to the house, how an extra room could be used as a yoga studio, where we could put the couches… until we arrived at each house and hope turned to disappointment. My friend Kar calls this the pendulum of emotions. She also said to go with it and most importantly, to have faith in the dream…
But the dream is fading and it’s difficult to continue to have faith in the vision. If you’ve ever been house-hunting you’ll know how it is. False leads abound. After a while we learned a few more lessons: we became savvy about trick photography — that’s everything from expanding the size of a room to double it’s true proportions, and making everything look lighter, brighter and cleaner, to making the dry grass look green — and realtor-speak, which includes lies of omission. It’s hard to gain information from some agents — simple things like the dimensions of rooms, to what’s happening on the neighbouring property. It’s caveat emptor or ‘Let the buyer beware’.
Not that all of this is an excuse for dropping the rituals. It just happened that way. And, as I said, I learned a few lessons. I made some intentional choices and set some timelines recently and they got lost along the journey over the past weeks. So there are a few unfulfilled objectives for this season. You know what they are from my previous post. I’m still working out what to do next but I know that I can’t focus on setting up websites and pitching stories. From my lessons learned, I know that what I can do is write, and journal, and meditate, and practice yoga.
I accept the lessons and it’s time to move on. I’ll try to keep my word for the year ‘FLOW’ in my daily thoughts, my vision for living a passionate life close to my heart, and Rainer Maria Rilke’s words echoing in my ears. We’ve discovered rivers and towns, communities and culture that weren’t part of our original dream. Perhaps the new month is a good time to reflect on the dream. Maybe there is a different way to interpret our vision. Our plan is to take another trip. The lessons learned from the our previous journeys will serve as intentions on the road. And my diary will be the first item I pack.
See you along the way.
PS: Read David Whyte’s poem Just beyond yourself in full here