How to Keep Ants off the Table and other life lessons I learned in the Outback
I just spent 6 months living and working in outback Queensland. I'll paint a picture for those of you who haven't ventured in to Australia's outback:
Forsayth, Queensland. Six hours West of Townsville. Population 29. The surrounding landscape is filled with termite mounds and shrubs as far as the eye can see, with herds of cattle splattered here and there. Driving (slowly as to avoid popping a tire) along red dirt roads are the only means of getting anywhere and "down the road" can refer to a destination over an hour away. In the wet season, thunder storms roll through and put on the most amazing light shows you'll ever see. In the dry season, you can bundle up and watch a gorgeous sunset over the vast Australian Outback.
Cobbold Gorge. 1 hour West of Forsayth, the closest town (fuel, groceries, medical care, etc.). A tourism venture employing 10-20 people for 6 months of year and my home for that amount of time. We lived in a pop up camper, showered in the outdoor amenities, walked 2-3 minutes to work, and woke up to the birds chirping (at 6am every morning) in the tree we parked under. I worked in the kitchen, learning how to cook, serving tourists, making coffees, and doing an absurd amount of dishes. I worked a lot, but my time off was mostly spent alone, without access to the internet and with no where to go, I had a lot of time to get re acquainted with myself, try some new things and dust off some old skills. When I wasn't reading, or using what precious little cellular data we had, I was reflecting on my time in the outback, the past 26 years, and what the future might hold.
The following is a comprehensive list of those thoughts and everything I learned in the Outback:
- If you fill 4 cups with water and then put a leg of a table in each, you'll prevent ants from being able to crawl onto the table.
- Sometimes your attitude is the only thing you have control over.
- All you can do is the best you can do.
- It's extremely easy to lose a finger. You should be proud if you still have all 10 digits.
- Less is more. Always.
- Different from you doesn't mean worse than you.
- Everyone, no matter how much money they have or where they're from, values their family more than anything else. Maybe we should all prioritize the people and relationships in our lives because no matter where you work, whether you live in a pop up camper on the side of the road or a mansion on the side of a hill, you'll love your friends and family most.
- Money is fluid. Time is not. We value money over almost everything else, when time is really our most valuable commodity. Money comes and goes, I've seen it many times. But time is linear and once it's gone you can't get it back. We take it for granted and we waste it worrying about things that are fluid.
- Reading really does make you smarter.
- You can't do anything extraordinary by being ordinary. You can be happy and safe and successful, but new things don't grow from old ways. It's the crazies and the risk takers who shake things up.
- People are incredibly resilient and adaptable. We can adjust to our surroundings better than we think.
- Prep. Prep. Prep. There are so many things in our lives that we don't have control over, but one thing we can control is how well we prepare ourselves for any given situation. If you take the time to prep properly, you've given yourself all of the tools you'll need to succeed. You can't control things like the power going out in the middle of cooking dinner for 50 people, but you can take comfort in knowing you literally did everything in your power to set yourself up for success.
- Sitting all day, whether it's in a corner office or in front of a TV, is bad for you.
- You are in control of your own happiness.
- Sometimes, the plans we have and the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and where we're going don't light a clear path to happiness and success. Sometimes, those plans and stories act as barriers and prevent us from writing new stories and exploring different opportunities. Let the world change you and don't be afraid to rewrite the ending.