Welcome to Alice Springs!

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Alice Springs, oh Alice Springs —

Not quite what I expected, though I can’t be sure what it was I had pictured before landing in this small town. Desolate red earth, cowboys, saloons, and horses? Another strange and anachronistic image conjured from pure lack of information.

Referred to as the gateway to Uluru, Alice Springs, for me, is a brief stopping place before continuing to this iconic destination I have dreamed about visiting for longer than I care to admit ….

With an evening free, it’s also an opportunity to catch another sunset. So, I march up a hill recommended by the hostel for this purpose.

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And here we have it. I’m stood on a hill. Waiting. Waiting for intense color to draw across the sky.

These are the moments I catch myself reflecting on “my old life.”

Sometimes I feel close to those days. Upon leaving the States, I didn’t exactly morph into a carefree butterfly or a majestic macaw. I will never be far from the daily struggles — procuring food, clothing, shelter, and striving for social acceptance — which characterize survival.

Yet, I have left the “rat race” in so far as I am no longer worried about climbing the career ladder to earn more money to get a bigger house, or a better car, or designer shoes.

And inevitably, there is no richness in this pursuit.

I am aware now that these will never be the things I wish I had sought. I will never wish I had spent more time chained to a desk, or more time living alone in a three bedroom house, or more time wearing ridiculously expensive and stylish heels that hurt my feet ….

Curiously, there are other times I find I can hardly remember that life.

A life spent pursuing “upgrades.” Waiting for the day when some invisible force would finally grant the charmed and exciting reality that always seemed possible yet somehow just out of reach. A life where everything would be perfect and potentially gilded in gold ….

And then one day I stopped waiting.

And on that day I started living.

I chose now.

I chose the world.

And while I always feel like I could be doing more, that fuzzy sense of what life could be is now reality.

It’s not perfect or gilded.

But it is charmed. And exciting.

It is with this knowledge that I am propelled forward as I endeavor to take in Uluru, King’s Canyon, Kata Tjuta and all the magic each moment offers.

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