Unsurprisingly, I love being told how-I-should about as much as the next person. Some of the unsolicited advice I’ve received includes: don’t set up your tent in the middle of the road (seriously) and; don’t use your stove in your tent or your tent will explode.
The last one was more reasonable because it came from a man who lives in the southern region of Argentina where houses are heated by leaving gas stoves lit on maximum (maximum to avoid the flame extinguishing overnight and causing death). So the following is my insight into surviving advice and resolutions.
Background: I’m an Aussie in pursuit of becoming the first woman to walk the length of the Earth. It bugged me that, of all the people who have attempted the hike, about 10 men have completed it… but no women. So I began planning. Yes, just like that.
Two years on, I’ve walked the length of Chile through Tierra del Fuago, Patagonia, the coastal wine region, and most recently the Atacama Desert. Shortly I continue through the Andean Mountains of Peru, then through the Amazon towards Panama.
4 years ago….
Resolving to have a healthier, stronger body and be more open-minded to alternative medicine (how original of me), I followed the insistings of my then boyfriend to consult an iridologist...
For those of you who don’t know, an iridologist is basically the eye version of a palm reader. A clinician, who uses an antique magnifying glass to examine the colourful part of your eyes and tell you what’s wrong with you and how to fix it.
If I said I was brimming with enthusiasm, I’d be lying, but I was resolved, so…
We arrived at a dingy, tax dodging, hotel room. The first thing I noticed (other than my discomfort of visiting a medical professional in a hotel room) was the mountains of unmarked clinical bottles, grouped by their various sizes.
I continued swallowing my cynicism and drew on my newly found open-mindedness.
Said boyfriend was present, and teeming with positivity and encouraging nods. He gestured me forward.
After much umming and aahing from behind the iridological magnifying glass, he announced my ailments…. including the discovery that I was not in fact, a coeliac.
And just like that, I was 100% on board.
He handed me my 3 prescribed concoctions and warned that first, my body would detox.
Fine by me!
I gargled, I drank and I eye-dropped diligently, blind-sided by the promise of my next appointment and more importantly, first bakery visit in years.
Oh, how I detoxed.
Two weeks on, said boyfriend was lifting me out of the bathtub because I’d become too weak to get myself to the toilet. Guilt struck, he kept a close eye on me… partly worried I’d drown.
His mum rang the iridologist, who at this point was holidaying in the Caribbean (really), so the assistant relayed his advice: since I’d been gluten deficient for so long, my body was reacting severely and I needed to halve the dose.
Let me tell you something about rationality: It can be corrupted by investment.
The Sunk Cost FallacyThe Misconception: You make rational decisions based on the future value of objects, investments and experiences.
The Truth: Your decisions are tainted by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.
I had spent so much money on the non-TGA approved, quack-certified garbage, that I persisted for another week until I induced an iron deficiency.
I rang the quack (still vacationing) and spoke to the assistant.
I demanded to know the ingredients. She refused, referring to their concern for patents. So I did the only thing my malnourished brain could think to do: I feigned threats of a lawsuit, quoted the requirements of ingredient listing as regulation according to Food Standards Australia, and told her I could have them shutdown before her boss returned from holiday.
Sure enough, I had been poisoning myself with gluten-rich wheat juice for nearly a month.
I threw out my investment and went back to the cynic’s life.
Undoubtedly, I had changed in that time, but not for the healthier, stronger or more open-minded. While wrapped around the toilet, developing an iron deficiency, I couldn’t help but wonder what a happier life looked like (as you do), when I remembered my sister’s advice.
For those who don’t know, I have two badass sisters. This one founded a life transforming criminal diversion program that realises the potential in people who aren’t considered (institutionally) to have any.
We do our best life-ing when we look at what we have, and build from there.
Focus on what you’re already doing? Apparently.
So I wrote down the important aspects of my life, turned it into a plan by scheduling more time doing the things I enjoyed, and allocating time for projects I want to be working on… and my tax.
Like a charm, my sister’s savvyness did the trick.
4 years later…
Building on this I’ve had a number of revelations all of which have led me to the path I’m on today.
I’m not going to say that at times, I wouldn’t rather be wrapped around a toilet than be walking into oblivion. Sometimes I really would. Sometimes I have. But in these moments I can draw on what’s important and remind myself (painfully) that I’ve chosen to be where I am, think of what the alternatives are, and if I really wanted, I could plan myself out of here just as easily as I planned my way in.
I acknowledge that not everyone is as fortunate as I am, but I’ll also warn you: my outlook doesn’t come freely, it takes a lot of resilience, self-determination and sacrifice to do what I do. Like everyone, I am not free from misery. But practicing the above is a good reality check in those moments of doom and gloom.
Keen for detail?
If you’d like to read a blow-by-blow how-to, and see my plans for the year as an example… or if you’d like to know how I tackle setbacks…. or something else along these lines, let me know in comments.
Before you roll your eyes like I typically would, know that a collection of my friends have since gotten on to this and we’re all still friends (unlike the iridologist).
The trick to it all is pretty underwhelming.
Enjoying this interlude?
Here’s how people have been helping (bribing) me forward:
1) Luggage mules
If you’re planning a trip to Peru this year, or Ecuador… and you’re happy to bring me a jacket, or some tights, or a set of dog booties… please contact me!
2) Clothes and equipment
You can contribute towards specific equipment here, which will be sent to a friend, waiting for a luggage mule… They’ll even write your name on it.
3) Ice cream, hot chocolates and dog toys for the road.
These delightful variations from rice and stock cubes are made via PayPal.
The more people who know about us, the more chances we’ll receive sponsorship, and the more likely we are to finish!!!! Please talk about me and Wombat, even the bad, and have your friends join us through the calamities!!
5) MOST IMPORTANTLY – Keep reading
I love your feedback and love having you with me. It’s no longer possible to respond to emails and one-on-one update requests, but know I read all of them, and appreciate you.
If it wasn’t for the community, I wouldn’t be out here researching how to fit Wombat to his backpack. Yep. That’s happening.
To the peeps at GoHosting who continue helping me through my WordPress meltdowns!
Surviving the desert: how did I do it, why did I do it, was it hot, did I hate it? Answering all the popular questions and more…. as soon as I have a replacement phone, access my Apple account and the notes for the story… which also includes wishing for toilets among the finer moments of life.
Lucy + Wombat