I suppose we’re all travellers in some way. We’re all on a journey through life. The starting point was the moment of our birth and the end point is – well I’m not sure I want to talk about that now.
As we continue on that journey, we all have the baggage we carry along with us. We pick it up as we go – the various negative events and influences that mould and shape us, affecting and inhibiting our attitudes and approaches to life. At the start, there isn’t too much – after all, how much weight is a baby supposed to carry. But as we get moving, we all start to accumulate.
Some of us begin to get overloaded pretty much from the beginning. There are all sorts of misfortunes that a young child can experience that will pretty much weigh them down for life. Others may start light, but gradually collect more and more baggage as they go until taking any step forward becomes a burden. Yet others are able to avoid accumulating a big collection of baggage. These fortunate souls are able to skip lightly through life, always moving forward with little to weigh them down and halt their progress.
So where do I see myself on this continuum of lifetime baggage? I like to think that I tend towards the lighter end of the spectrum. In fact, many years ago, when I was discussing this idea with some friends, I made the crack that I prefer to travel with a backpack.
I’m not saying I don’t carry around any baggage – like anyone whose reached a certain age, I’ve had my share of trials and tribulations. I’m also not saying I share the kind of childhood horrors that curse many people – as someone who grew up middle-class in Australian suburbia, I know I’ve had many advantages in my life.
But I also like to think I have a particularly effective strategy for lightening the load. When the baggage starts to build up, I think this strategy has helped me to heave it off my back and throw it aside. And the key to that strategy is – writing.
As a writer, I’m constantly engaging with the factors that weigh me down. Often, these are the elements that form the centrepieces for my stories. In particular, the three Neville Lansdowne adventures, Doodling, Scribbling and Scrawling are very much about me finding ways to express the frustrations I find myself dealing with on a daily basis. And by getting these frustrations onto the page, I find the load has been taken off my back, helping me to move more freely.
So writing is not just a habit or a hobby that I enjoy. In some ways, it’s a life-saver. It’s the main reason I’m (mostly) able to travel light.
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