13 was always my lucky number

Charlene general, vagabonding 36 Comments

Today marks my real new year.

10 January 2013 is my last day as a gainfully employed, regular pay-check earning, “real job” holding person.

I’ve stepped away from a lot of big things in the last ninety or so days, a crazy process which began the day I returned from my long trip in the USA, methodically severing all significant anchors to my life here in Perth. In between the 2nd of October 2012 and now, I’ve sold, thrown or given away everything I have that doesn’t fit into a big human-sized bag, or a smaller backpack. I’m running away from the life I’ve built here for the last fourteen years. It has been three months of madness getting to this point.

In exactly a week, I land in the USA, and I have no idea what/where I’m going from there. The plan is to have no plan. It’s terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.

Under the “terrifying” heading, the top item on the list would be not having a job anymore. I’m voluntarily giving up what is presently my only means of feeding myself. I’ve had a funny tussle with it over the last few years. I really like actual work that I do (and the other delightful random things that pop up, as colleagues who are reading this might remember), enough to call it love. And I cannot say enough about the magnificent people who are my immediate team mates, who are friends, inspirers, great leaders, mentors, achievers of the impossible and wild artists; mad magicians in their own right.

But my perspective is completely at odds with the industry I work in, and I have struggled for years with the particular brand of institutionalisation that exists in it. It started as a little seed which took root, refused to die and grew into some kind of distorted behemoth. I suspect I’m exhibiting signs of what they call “burn out.”

So I’m walking away. At this stage, I’ve been in this bubble for so long, I don’t even know if I’m even employable anymore, should I need to be (and I will at some point).

That is a scary thought.

I haven’t gotten to this point through long deliberation. At some point on the long flight back to Perth, on the last day of September just past, I decided I was done with the way I was living. My life, at that moment, felt like a big empty waste. The last mental restraint broke. Became crazy. Made a throwaway decision. Came back and acted on it on the first day. Threw one hat over a wall, and then before I knew it, I’d thrown several more. Three months later, I’m on the brink of going. Somewhere. Haven’t figured the rest out yet. The amount of money I’ve got in the bank wouldn’t last a lot of people I know, two months. I’m thinking to live off it for twelve. Travelling. Alone. I don’t know the first thing about travelling. I’ve barely been anywhere in thirty odd years of living, when I could/should have.

It is stupid, and insane, and I have no idea what I’m doing.

But I want to. I feel at some level, that I need to. If only to give my sanity a second chance.

Early on, high on taking affirmative action, I’d say “I’m going to be a real photographer!” when breaking the news to a few close friends. But that’s not true. What I am really going to be, is a vagrant.

Photography has been the only thing that has kept me going through the last few years, although considering everything that the word encompasses, I’m reluctant to this thing that sustains me, “photography.” Taking/making pictures is more like it. I like making stuff. It’s what I’ve been compelled to do since I was old enough to hold a crayon, and it’s probably what I’ll always do. I don’t know the first thing about being a photographer. Don’t have what it takes, don’t know if I ever will. And with everything I’ve read about the industry, don’t know if I want to. There seems to be little point to it when the entire developed world’s economy seems to be turning to Facebook for inspiration – monetizing the hell out of everything and consequently, nothing. But to be fair, the point of anything escapes me these days. In many dark nights, the point of what I am about to do, doesn’t exist either. And that is scary too.

In all of this, the one thing I am definitely going to do whether I like it or not, is live. Because from this point on, I won’t be able to retreat into the safe zone of my daily grind and wish stuff away. I have to do something about living every day. And that is good, despite the inevitable bad that will happen along the way.

That smiling little girl (yes, holding the camera) at the top of this post? Maybe she’ll learn to be a Jedi one day.

2013. My new beginning, or maybe just the rest of my life. Either way, a really big change.

Happy New Year everyone. Cheers to the future!

Comments 36

  1. Wow! Exciting and scary indeed! Looking forward to seeing what happens – be sure to keep us up to date on the blog! You’re doing the kind of thing I feel I should do too, but it becomes a lot more complicated when you’re connected to another person (some would say “chained”, but despite the sacrifices, I’m still happy with it). So go and do it for yourself, but be aware, in some way, you’ll be doing it for me too. I can enjoy the process by proxy!

    1. I’ll definitely keep the blog updated, you can be sure of that. I’ve lived vicariously through others, and it helped me get to this point. If you enjoy the process, I’d be glad 🙂

  2. Good luck on the new Journey treasure! I am sure you will have fun and see some really cool stuff. Play hard, stay safe, keep fit, keep your wits about you, enjoy and be as good as you can be!

    I look fwd to the updates on your adventures! 🙂

  3. Enjoy, enjoy Charlene – in many ways I can absolutely relate to what you are talking about. I find it hard these days to find inspiration in the much photoshopped and manipulated imagery that surrounds us – I just want to be connected to the truth, travel is so important in finding that within ourselves and the world around us. I am sure this will be life and soul changing for you – have a ball!

  4. Well….you don’t do things by halves, do you?!

    Wishing you so much fun and luck and inspiration and good head space. Crazy times. New and awesome friends. All the good, good stuff that hitting the road brings.

    I’ll be following your blog avidly. 🙂

    1. Hope to be seeing some updates in a similar vein from you Cathy. As I recall, the itch started up a while ago.

      (and yes, I was a cute kid… then I grew big and old!)

    2. Yeah…I’ve had a complete rethink of everything over the last 12 months. The itch has gone away for now, and I’m throwing myself in a completely different direction. So I’ll have to live vicariously through you for a while!

  5. Wow what an adventure you are embarking on…landing in a country than is not familiar to you and then just finding your way, yes scary, though it will be a journey of a lifetime…I look forward to your posts and to see you grow in your writing and photography, as I know you will. Keep safe and keep smiling….

    1. I am hoping it will be the journey of a lifetime… and one that never really stops. Thanking you as always for your support, Peta 🙂

  6. Nicely done 🙂 Strangely, I’m on a very similar path, but my flight doesn’t leave for another 7 weeks and I’m still in the process of purging.

    I wish you the best Charlene. I trust that you will wring every ounce of life out of your experiences!

  7. One of the longest post! I demand more pictures!

    Good luck! I hope we will bump into each other in a different country in the near future

    1. Oi, no pictures yet la. A state of affairs that will change I am sure.

      We might bump into each other yet. Shout me a curry puff and I’ll buy you a teh tarik 🙂

  8. Outstanding work Charl. Irresponsible and utterly essential at the same time. I remain immensely envious.

  9. Very well written, hitting the bullseye of nomadic hat-throwing completely. It is a hard road, but true and full of amazing possibilities.
    The Force will be with you, always. See you soon, Jedi.

    1. Obrigada amigo. I’m about to find out what you mean by all of that, first hand. Crazy. Can’t quite believe I’m here. And yes, see you soon 🙂

  10. You go girl! How exciting for you! Do it now! Similar thoughts have run through my head… sell the house… sell everything. Too many responsiblities with family now. I’m so flipping excited for you and am thinking Flemming has been an influence on you! 🙂 I am so looking forward to your future blog posts! I’m in awe of your courage.

  11. Ok, that is probably the most awesome news in 2013 ! Knew that was gonna happen some day !! – one can see that in those crazy kid’s eyes from the picture above hahaha. I’m gonna cross my fingers everyday for you, wishing you had a enough fuel and courage (and i’m sure you do) to never look back. Can’t wait to see how this nomadic life will develop for you.

    One thing i’m certain of is that you will try to make the most of it and that it’s gonna be the best year of your life !!

    For all of us who would love to do the same some day i wish you all the luck girl and may you bank account never go empty so you could continue to do what you just started !

    Look out people ’cause now we have C & FBJ – two wild nomads tripping around the Earth ! 🙂

    1. My head is in about a million different places at the moment, trying to formulate a cogent reply to comments etc is proving so very difficult, so I will just say, thank you muchly for the well wishes 🙂

      (don’t talk to me about bank accounts *groan*)

  12. Wow. I’m impressed – good on you, to have the courage to get away and just live. Some (OK, at lot) of this post sounds very familiar, although I’m not at the point of doing anything so drastic about it (yet).

    Good luck, and enjoy your nomadic adventures! Hopefully we’ll still see you round these parts.

    1. Goodness JP…. there’s a few of us coming out of the woodwork eh?

      I’ll be back at some point. I still really want to explore Australia, and if it were financially viable, I’d have started here instead of halfway around the world.

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