A crisp autumnal breeze blew in my face as I yanked my backpack out of the cab.
Even Melbourne’s weather seemed to be pushing us onwards, to a new place where summer wasn’t ending. Having spent a month scraping the last tasty bits of the Australian summer from the pan, the eucalyptus-tinged breeze confirmed what I already knew.
It was time to go.
Honest travel engenders a comfortable familiarity with the world. It reaffirms the greatest of instinctual human truths; that which differentiates us is far less than that which we share.
Australia proved this to me again and again. From a people as generous as they were curious to watching NBA basketball with nearly every group of 20 something Aussie men that I met, there was never a shortage of common ground. Time and time again, there was either a nostalgic appreciation from a trip to America, or an earnest desire to visit. I was amazed at the near universal depth of knowledge about the American political system. I am afraid that many Aussies have a more well-informed opinion of what ails American democracy than my countrymen do.
Australia and America are separated in ways akin to two different cooks working from the same recipe. Our shared beginnings as British colonies left us with the same base ingredients, differentiated now by local spices and the unique iterations of generations past. The inconsequential distinctions between us betray the existence of our shared history. America and Australia are brothers without a doubt, largely identical at a glance, with the same temperamental distinctions that have separated brothers since Cain and Abel.
Australia has been an amazing part of the Conquest. From Chad generously opening his home to us in Perth, to Nick’s genuine joy in showing us around the Whitsundays, to being fussed over by Ben’s Nan in the Gold Coast, we’ve been graciously seen to by people whose all-encompassing definition of hospitality would teach a Southerner a thing or two.
The people I’ve met here have scraped away a bit more debris from those universal truths that we so often claim as unique to ourselves.
The perfidy of differing perspective afflicts fathers and sons the world over. Those malevolent shadows on the wall could be dispelled with a mere step or two, but fear calcifies into the anchoring rage that holds us fast to the spot.
A daughter’s struggle for parental affirmation might manifest itself in various fashions, but the moral of the story is always the same.
The best part of my Australian experience wasn’t the phenomenal beaches or outstanding concerts. It was the opportunity to step into several different families and see the same familial dynamics as the ones I know back home. The location and accents may be different, but the human condition is universal.
True villains are as rare in the world as blameless heroes, but the shared myopia of humanity all too often makes monsters out of the unfocused shapes in the distance.
Every road leads one closer to somewhere. Proximity is the panacea for myopia, that erstwhile creator of monsters.
In one month on the ground, Ben and I have seen no fewer than 12 beaches, seen 23 musical acts, swam in two oceans, visited 6 cities and stayed under 9 different roofs (or lack thereof in the case of the boat.) It has been a rock star tour of the “lucky continent.” Upon landing in Singapore this morning, we’ve now travelled together on 4 continents, a feat unto itself.
Now it is onto a different part of the world, one still bears both the physical and cultural scars of unenlightened colonialism. Seeing a culture so dissimilar from my own will again act as a focusing agent, forcing me to again check those truths I’ve held as universal.
Here’s to dispatching more monsters in the distance.
Here were some of the highlights of Australia in picture.