In 2014 we travelled Australia as a family in Freddy, the ute, and Campy, the camper trailer. I decided to mark turning 40 by being in the Red Centre of Australia. Then we travelled north to my old military haunting ground, Darwin.
The journey north on the Stuart Hwy was quite emotional for me. As we camped at a site called the Devils Marbles, I meditated on the power of this journey. I’d spent seven years posted to the military unit, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which was based at Robertson Barracks just south of Darwin. This wasn’t continuous, as I was posted away a couple of times. Upon reflection I noted each time I left, I’d lost a little bit more of myself. I’d become a little bit more disconnected from who I really am.
The final time I left at the end of 2007 I was a broken man. Yet no one, except my immediate family knew what was going on for me. I was suffering from a large case of high-functioning Post Traumatic Stress and Depression.
Now some seven years later, upon driving north, it was as if I was picking up pieces of myself and allowing them to re-integrate back into my being. It was a pilgrimage of sorts, to reconnect that which I had lost.
These boots were part of the journey. They saw a North American Indian medicine circle in the Arizona Desert, the Grand Canyon, Uluru and Katu Tjuta. They then carried me onto the oldest rain forest in the world, in the dense jungles of northern Kalimantan, as we trekked a group of Elders from the Kenyah Dayak back to their ancient burial caves.
Silently, these boots held me whilst I searched for the ability to reconnect to the real me. Unwavering in their support, they became more comfortable as the kilometres ticked over. As they tired, I came to re-member me again. I came full circle to a point of connection that felt familiar. No medication brought me to this place, only the work of a man hell bent on reconnecting to himself.
The Shamans of the ancient worlds don’t believe in adverse mental conditions; they see them as a spiritual awakening waiting to happen.
For a man who’s seen the worst in himself, and seen some of the worst the human condition can bring, what these boots have helped me realise it that the journey of forgiveness can be a tiring one. It lasts as long as we want to hold the wound we harbour. It ends with a choice to open our heart again.