In the middle of August, I went out to Mount Buller. It was my first time there; it was my first time in the snow. There was a lot of attempting to snowboard, and quite little actual snowboarding. But it was a glorious day. There was a blitz only the week before, so the snow levels were high, it was soft and fluffy, and the sun was out.
It will forever be etched in my memory – traversing country from the desert out into the tropics of the Australian landscape back in 2016 – and the wonder at this land on which her living people and cultures continue to thrive in spite of ongoing colonialism and racial violence.
And there I was – on this mountain of snow, cheeks cold, heart full.
Only a month before that, I watched a humpback whale swim up close and under the boat I was on out in Quandamooka country / North Stradbroke Island in Queensland.
And there I was – salt in the air, sun and wind in my face; I cried, and I sang, and I cried in joy.
But truly, in between all of that, the reality is that the last few months have been incredibly relentless on all fronts.
In the push and pull of deadlines, trying and failing to get projects up, and work, and extra work that I said yes to – it has felt like a laborious plodding along; a slog, for returns I seriously struggle to see. And in these times, I am doing everything possible to hold my optimism at the front of things.
And it has been (and continues to be) bloody exhausting.
This past month, I’ve also had to admit to myself, and acknowledge my experience of burn out. It caught me completely off guard – granted, I was also expecting signs I imagined burn out to look like, but this was a gentle, quiet beast that crept its way in in the form of a 30-hour sleep that I had no way of fighting off.
To be completely fair, despite my busy-ness, I have amazingly been clocking seven-hour sleeps on most nights. Which is a big win! And a rare one for most other people I know!
And you sleep because your body just doesn’t want to do anything else. Nor can it. And so, you lean into it.
Just as you lean into the disappointments you find yourself experiencing.
I did not get the job interview I desired. I’ve been negotiating, with a lot of heartache (and physical and emotional distance), my adult relationship with my parents. I feel the dull of inertia – perhaps my growth has been so exponential these past years, that this bout of routine feels like I’m stagnating. Mostly, my own impatience. And then the realisation that dating in your 30s – in the life that I currently have, and with the man that I would currently like to date – seems very much like a perennial exercise in life admin. Mostly, my own restlessness.
Because it’s not the job that I want – It’s recognising that I am ready to be challenged. It’s about doing something I don’t know. It’s being in a leadership position to drive cultural conversations bigger than me. It’s valuing intimacy and depth of relationship. It’s being able to be our full selves. And allowing the other to be their full selves. It’s facing up to our fears, our desires, our ambitions, our truths. And really –
Mostly, my own wanting.
The Chinese character for ‘ambition’ is 野心 – which translates to ‘wild heart.’
And mine will not (cannot) be tamed.
But I am learning – what it means to cultivate; the slow burn – my relationships, my ambitions, my patience, my strength(s). I am learning – what it means to surrender to timelines beyond my control, to uncertainty and the unknown, to failing, to difficult conversations, to loneliness, to unresolved desires. I am learning – what it means to be vulnerable.
I am learning – that even though you thought you had it all worked out last time – what it means to learn these things again.
In a ‘say yes to life’ spirit, I responded to a social media post by a woman I barely knew. The result was a gorgeous weekend with 3 incredibly generous, beautiful and powerful women, sharing an adventure of first-time experiences and hearty conversations out in Mount Buller. And for our shared adventure, I was mostly out on the snow alone – my beginner’s lesson taking me to a different spot from the others.
In the repeated falling and struggling to get back up on the snowboard, I had only my own resolve. And a lot of my exhaustion to contend with. But for the seconds that I did glide along, I knew I got it right when I trusted enough to look up from my feet, and in the direction of where I was going.
But of course.
I think we will be ok.