Friday, 20 March 2009


When I was nineteen years old, I was restless. Lost. My mind craved freedom. I yearned to break free from the restraints of routine and normality; an aspect of life I detested. It seems implausible to reach the metaphorical crossroads so young but I guess, rather eccentrically, I have always been about five years older than most my age.

It was this reason that I decided to go travelling. Solo. A loner at heart, instead of filling me with fear, I felt exhilarated. At last, life had direction. Meaning. For two months I travelled around America and Australia with nothing but a backpack, some dollar bills and a trusty map. I finally got that freedom I craved and it sure tasted good. Along the way, I grew up. Learned. Laughed. Cried. I lived. I made some memories, happy, sad. Worthwhile.

Let me share them with you:

The coach, bound for the Grand Canyon, had been driving all day from a small town just off Route 66. As I sat longing for our destination, the coach was abuzz with the chatter of my fellow travellers. Australian and American accents blended with the laughter, the snoring and the faint, tinny chords of music playing from someone’s headphones. From my window seat, I watched the barren, dusty desert rush past so quickly that the golden landscape became a blurry, honey coloured hue in my eyes.

It was late afternoon when we arrived. Necks straining, we all scrambled to look at the view obscured by the yellow dirt ingrained on the coach’s windows. The doors opened with a screech. The heat of the day seeped into the enclosed space, forcing everyone from their seats with a renewed vigour.

The sun was an amber glow, so bright; I had to trail the shadows of those walking in front. We climbed over scattered rocks, following a dirt-lined path of trees, bushes and plants alien to my eyes. As I lifted my gaze from the dust on my boots, I stopped breathing. My eyes, my brain, my senses; nothing from me was prepared for what I saw. The colours of this beautiful, natural rock glistened in the afternoon sun. Reds and golds merged effortlessly into one glorious colour, highlighted by the curves, indents and markings carved by the Colorado River below.

I felt overwhelmed. A shiver trailed the length of my spine. Hairs stood proudly on the back of my neck. My heart beat so loudly that blood roared in my ears, deafening the world outside of me. I looked to the side, an empty space, air, nothing but the realisation that I had no one to share such an amazing experience with. Loneliness pained me; sadness seeped into my very core. I looked around at all the people, fingers pointing, cameras flashing. I wondered why anyone would want to take their own eyes off such a sight, just so they could take a picture. It wouldn’t do it justice.

I walked closer to the edge, looked up, down, left and right. My eyes greedily ate the view as if I would soon be blind. In that moment, as the sun started its descent, the shadows grew taller over the canyon and an eerie quiet took hold of the people around me. I had never felt so small, insignificant and yet so alive.


  1. Beautiful. You write deliciously. "I wondered why anyone would want to take their own eyesoff such a sight, just so they could take a picture." As a photographer I know the answer.

    Well done, Lou.

  2. Fantastic. I could see it with you. I could relive that feeling of the nature's power over us, humans - memory of my mountains...

    Thank you for reminding me

  3. Aaaah the mind freeing experience of travel and exploration, if only in my dreams.

    Great adventure, Lou

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  6. Thats fantastic! I applaud your bravery for taking that step into the unknown at such a young age.

    Btw, you write very beautifully too. It was a pleasure to read! :)

  7. Lou,

    Freedom doesn't mean no fears but to face one's fear.

    Freedom is the essence of living and you are fortunate to realize this so early in your life.

    Thank you for visiting my blog.


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