Saturday, October 22, 2005


I spent the last two weeks hiking in Glacier National Park. After having been out in the back country for almost a week, I was less inclined to hike with the group of friends I was traveling with. I was also a bit antsy; I needed to move. So I went on a day hike alone. It was nice to be walking alone again. Most of my vacations up to this point included a lot of walking by myself.

During this hike, I started thinking about the concept of walkabout. I realized that I know absolutely nothing about it, save the bits and pieces that I'd seen on TV. Oddly enough, there's not a whole lot out there on the internet that boils it down to a simple set of descriptions. There's a really brief entry here, and stuff about some movie, but other than that, there seems to be few direct descriptions of a walkabout.

Walkabout is simply as it is described. A person on walkabout is doing just that: walking about. Australian Aborigines went on walkabout to search for new food and water sources. It's more analogous to the long hunts of the Native Americans.

Western traditions seem to have latched on to the spiritual aspects of walkabout. There is an attraction to "go walkabout" and leave one's job and life behind, all in an effort to find oneself, or confront one's problems. It's been converted into something akin to the spiritual quest of the Native American.

Perhaps this generation, having no really defining challenge, is constantly in need of stepping back and evaluating their existence. Not having a "purpose" leaves one asking the questions "why am I here," or "am I doing what I 'should'". There's a sense that one gets a bit lost in the details.

Walkabout provides a way to step a way and view things from different angles. The perspective is changed when distance is applied, and the details disappear. The view becomes a big picture, with parts of one's life painted in larger brush strokes.

To interject a little of my own opinion here, at I've said it before, this is how I view a vacation. It's a chance for me to step back and evaluate what's going on in my life, my relationships, my work, everything. The view from the distance provides a startling clarity and insight. I return, usually, happier and with a better sense of where I'm going.

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