Going out your door: A lesson from Mr. Baggins

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

–Bilbo Baggins

It’s funny, every time I step onto the plane before a big journey this quote runs through my mind. It’s a simple quote that evokes a whimsical image of being carried off to faraway places and toward great adventure. And Australia certainly did sweep me off my feet and took me on an adventure I’m still not sure I’ve really come to comprehend. I suppose that in order to explain, I should start from the beginning…

Mid-December 2018…

It is extremely rare for my life to be filled with down time so it should come as no surprise that the days leading up to leaving for Australia I was frantically finishing PhD applications and traveling to Milwaukee to help my sister pick out her wedding dress (EEEEEeeeeekkk!!!). The day before leaving I realized, to my chagrin, that I needed a visa to visit Australia. Folks, don’t be a dumb dumb like me and assume that every country is willing to freely embrace anyone who carries an American passport. *face meet palm* So $100 USD and an expedited visa process later I was FINALLY set to leave.

Side note: fun fact about me…I get SUPER anxious before traveling. Not sure why, but I’ve been like that since I was a kid. Once I’m on the plane I’m 100% chill…but getting myself on it is quite the project…so I was basically as terrified as Chandler Bing was when he was boarding the plane for Yemen. lol

yemen!

ANYWAYS. Back to the story. So I got on the plane, became friends with a guy named Chris from Vietnam, made my way to the other side of the planet and 25 hours later landed in Melbourne.

From the second I landed in Australia I knew I was going to like it. I walked out of the airport and was greeted by a warm gust of air. Compared to the cold Midwestern winter I had been experiencing it was like Australia welcomed me with a warm hug *swoon*. But it only gets better. My cousin and I pull up to her house and…BOOM. I realize THIS is the view I’ll experience for the next few weeks. *double swoon*

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At this point I was like Hey yeah so ‘Murica I love you and all…but damn Australia I SEE YOU looking like a SNACK!…actually the WHOLE DAMN MEAL. And I found myself wondering How in the hell did I get THIS lucky in life?! That thought ran through my head several times, actually, because my trip in Australia was seriously a dream. I couldn’t have imagined a more wonderful time. I got to reconnect with family, see kangaroos in the wild (Yeah no joke happened upon one during my run and was like ummm hey there buddy let’s be friends and you not punch me haha) travel to Sydney and Perth, and–while I didn’t meet Crocodile Dundee–I did meet some fantastic Aussies. I was surprised to see just how different Australians and Americans are! I found Australians to be some strange mix of happy-go-lucky, no bull-shit, crazy sarcastic, never-take-life too-seriously, we’ll-see-what-happens, coffee-loving population of people. And I love ’em for it. Really and truly haha. Even if at times I got some weird looks for not getting a joke or being the obvious overly-bubbly American in the room.

OH and I got to see some quokka’s. FOLKS, you haven’t lived until you’ve taken a selfie with one of these cuties. I absolutely HATE selfies BUT these guys are worth making an exception. See below:

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And, of course, I went on some pretty spectacular runs with truly breathtaking views.

With experiences like those how couldn’t I have been swept off my feet?! I was happy to have opened my front door and stepped onto a road I had never before traveled. My days in Australia were some of the happiest I’ve ever experienced.

But I have to admit that there is a darker, less carefree side to the quote with which I began this post. And I had never really pondered it until my latest trip to Australia. “It’s a dangerous business…”A dangerous business?! What do you mean dangerous?! And what’s the deal with “if you don’t keep your feet” ?! What does that even mean?! …Well what I think it means is that adventure can be a dangerous affair if we let ourselves get carried away by it, or perhaps even lose ourselves in the experience.

But is it really a bad thing to get carried away by it all? Do we need to stay grounded as we go through wonderful experiences, OR do we let ourselves go with it? I think, perhaps, it involves a bit of both. A trip, or an adventure for that matter, will always change you no matter which way you look at it. The Genevieve that got on that plane on December 17th, 2018 is undoubtedly different from the Genevieve that touched back down in Chicago on January 10th, 2019. I’m glad I got carried away by it all. But danger lies in staying in the adventure when the adventure is already over. I’ve come to realize that I need to ground myself back into my USA-Midwest reality. That is not to say that I will suppress the wonderful feelings associated with Australia, but rather than having it continue to sweep me off my feet, I’ll let it guide me, fuel me and challenge me as I move forward in life.

Thanks to Mr. Baggin’s lesson and my Australian adventure my life can no longer be a complacent one. I’m not happy with the usual, the mundane, the traditional path set before me anymore. Once you go out your front door, there really is no coming back. And, in my book, that’s not a bad thing.

 

XOXO

Genevieve

 

P.S. Don’t I have the most gorgeous Australian relatives?! Like COME ON.

P.P.S. The coffee really is to die for over there.