I started out late one morning to walk my dog, with just vague intentions of where I wanted to go. Dreams of going to the waterfall came into my head. However setting off I was unprepared, with no provisions of hat,water or sun cream for such a long walk, so I settled not far in for something slightly less -Lorikeets Walk.
And Lorikeets Walk was nice. It was easy. There were pleasant things to look at along the way. The dog was happy to be out in the sunshine, I could get it done in an hour and be home. In short, it was well, a walk in the park.
But, not much further in, I started to feel bored. And at this point in the journey, I was offered a choice. To stay with this walk I had settled on or go back to my original vague dream and find the waterfall. I had arrived at a map showing me the two routes. One kept going straight ahead in relative comfort, the other climbed the hill and promised echoing tunnels, waterfalls and sweeping views. What should I choose? The relative ease and flatness of the one I had settled for. Or the difficulty level of the one I originally wanted. Security or adventure?
So I chose adventure. Still unprepared and without provisions for a longer walk, just the dog and me together.
The walk became steadily steeper. With more beautiful flowers recently opened by the spring sunshine to look at than I could have imagined, and more interesting terrain with rocks, termite mounds and grasses.
After a short while, we came to echo tunnel. The tunnel is not so long that you can't see daylight streaming in the other end. But it’s long enough that the darkness seems to stretch a long way before the light seeps back in.
So, we entered the tunnel, the dog and I and after a few steps, she stopped. Scared of the dark. Scared of the damp water coursing through one side. She refused to budge. I tugged her a little way further along. And again she stopped. And again.
A woman's small frame peered in through the light at the end. With not enough room for it to be a two way tunnel she waited patiently while I dragged, coaxed and bribed the dog through.
‘Are you coming back this way?’ she asked when we made it through while offering the dog her many promised pats. I shrugged. ‘I guess so’. I was only really intending to go up to the first waterfall and back. Not the whole three hour round hike.
‘If you go a little further on past the first waterfall’ she said. ‘There's another track. It will wind around and down and pass this tunnel to bring you back’.
She set off into the tunnel. We set off into the steep terrain to the waterfall. More flowering bulbs. More silence except for the shrieks of the birds and the rattling of the koalas.
And we made it. To the top of this Big hill. And there was no waterfall.
My disappointment was strong. So what had I wanted to do this for? I thought of turning around there and then and slowly trudging back down the hill and dragging the dog back into the dark dank tunnel. But remembering the woman's advice I went further. It seemed like I was back tracking down the other side of the hill.
But then I realised. The waterfall was ahead of me. What I had thought was it; wasn't really it at all.
Had I turned back when I thought I was at the top, I would have missed the trickling beauty of this very gentle stream. The music of the water slowly and steadily playing it’s symphony on the patiently waiting rocks below. And the dog would have missed jumping in the water at the top and paddling through the gentle current. We stopped and admired and soaked in the ambience of this special place for a while.
My journey though was only half complete. I needed to get home. Again remembering my helpful guide; I tried to remember the track she said would take me around the tunnel and back towards home. It started with a “W”. I kept walking until I came to the choice of two tracks and stared anxiously at the sign in front of me. Workanda or Wilyawa?
Having not really listened that carefully to my guide, I had no idea. So I randomly chose one and continued, thinking it was taking me back in the direction I wanted. It offered spectacular views of the hills and the sea in the very far distance. There were more flowering bulbs, more gorgeous birds, and other friendly dog walkers along the way.
But I was lost. I eventually came to a gate and discovered that I was way over the other side of the park to where I thought -I had been walking in the very opposite direction to where I wanted to go.
The only thing to it was to keep going. Unprepared for such a hike all the way across the park, but with the knowledge I had come this far, I trusted myself and knew I was more than capable of going the same distance back.
And so with one foot in front of the other I meandered my way home. I had the luxury of not having to rush, of beautiful spring sunshine and cool eucalypt shade. Of the smells of flowering gum and the sounds of carefree birds.
We stopped and chatted (or patted) with other park users, who occasionally offered suggestions on the way home, if we asked. And eventually late afternoon we came back to the places that were familiar. Close to where we had started our journey, and not too far from home. Weary but feeling brave we kept moving our tired legs until we made it home.
And I realised that life is like my walk in the park. Sometimes we need to become lost to remember how to find our way again. Here are the things my walk in the park reminded me of:
Dreams, even vague ones, eventually call to be answered.
Settling for something less than your dreams (however vague) can be boring and repetitive.
There will be times when you are called upon to make choices; be brave - even if you are unprepared.
When the times are dark, keep going. There are people at the other end encouraging you through.
When you meet a guide along the way, listen carefully.
If you think you have arrived, but feel disappointed, keep going. Chances are what you want is just around the corner!
Sometimes small details matter. But getting things wrong isn’t always a disaster.
Stop along the way and enjoy the view, and appreciate the sounds of life around you.
Smile at all you meet along the way; maybe they are lost too.