What Australia taught me about life and where I’m going next
A year ago by Marquis A Matson ∙ 6 min read
Hello, world, and thank you for being here. I can’t promise you that I’ll have an interesting life, but I like to write about it and you like to read, so let’s see where this thing goes.
I’ve just started writing about my life again and so if you’re here from a previous email list and you don’t want to be, then you can unsubscribe from these emails. If you do want to be here, then thank you so much for validating my deepest desire for approval.
So what am I doing here? Well, writing stories.
I’ve been emailing people from back home since I left the US in 2015. I always wrote stories about what I’m up to around the world and how it has impacted the way I view things.
People started asking when I’d make a blog out of it and I’d always promise “soon.” But because I can’t ever commit to anything that isn’t exactly as I envisioned it, I put it off until now.
I’m not sure why now but I am sure that my life has been sucked dry of creative writing, thanks to my robotic career that turns writing style into data points. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I do for a living. Crunching numbers and using them to inform decisions so that I succeed is exactly what an approval junkie like me needs.
But it sucks the fun out of writing. Data tells stories, sure, but to tell stories with words…
… I don’t know, it’s been in my DNA longer. Humans have been made to tell stories long before my upbringing made me seek data-driven success, so I crave it more. And you are my witness.
So what can you expect from these emails?
One story at a time. I’ll start now and then I’ll start uploading my old stories dating back to 2018, when I first visited Asia.
If you’re excited for this, then same. You can just sit back and wait for these bad boys to land in your inbox. If you’re ready to start reading now, then let me begin with where I’m leaving off in Australia.
I’ve been in Australia for almost 3 years
I’m currently in Australia. I decided to hide out here during the pandemic because, well, it’s Australia. Everything here is nice. Like, so nice. So nice that they repair potholes as they come up and there literally isn’t a single poor person within a day’s drive of where I’m living.
Basically everything is high quality. You want some avo toast? It’ll be the best goddamn avo toast you’ll ever have. You want a coffee? Forget any other coffee you had before coming to Australia because this is the new standard. You want some clothes? They’ll be the most stylish, longest-lasting, ethically and sustainably made clothes you’ve ever owned. And forget about farmer’s markets…
It’s a basic white bitch’s dream in Australia and so this is where I chose to stay during a global crisis.
This is where I run into a problem, though. Everything is too nice. Freakishly nice. Sometimes I look around at the perfect neighborhood I live in and wonder what else there is to see around here. There’s nothing to aspire to because this is the peak of modern living.
Don’t worry, I’m working on this in therapy. My therapist recently asked me what would happen if I didn’t have anxious thoughts running through my mind all day and I said, “I’d be empty”.
She gently replied, “calm”.
With a nervous laugh, I asked her, “is that what they mean by ‘inner peace’?” She also laughed and said yes.
So Australia is great for you if you’ve got a quiet mind but for those of us still raging against the machine, it’s too damn nice.
Which is why I’m writing to you, because I think I’ll be leaving soon.
We’ve been talking about going to Portugal because they’re offering digital nomads a 2-year visa and direct access to the rest of Europe. We’re also looking at Mexico because it’s much cheaper, warmer, and closer to all of my favorite places in the world.
But if you know me half as well as my therapist does, then you know that this might change by the next time I write to you.
So now I’m in this weird limbo where I nervously look at all of the belongings I’ve accumulated over the last couple of years and watch my visa expiration date loom ahead. I’m also nervously looking back at my time here in Australia and wondering if I’ll miss it like I miss Ecuador.
Ecuador haunts me like a first love and maybe Australia will be like the next love after that, the one that doesn’t hurt as bad. That’s what I’m counting on.
This love is different, though.
Where Ecuador taught me about la familia and how to show up for your family, Australia has taught me about how to show up for the planet and all its inhabitants.
Being here is like stepping back in time. You can’t deny the age of the earth here, where their mountains are mere piles of rubble from millions of years of erosion. Their plants are just as archaic, looking like a scene out of Jurassic Park because this landscape is actually similar to the landscape of that time.
The fact that this place is a big island has helped preserve much of its natural world so that you can see how small and insignificant you are just by looking out your window.
The same is true for all the ways in which humans have helped destroy the place.
The soil here is some of the most depleted in the world as Euro settlers tore down the trees and replaced them with livestock and crops. The livestock trampled the ground so much that the soil became hard packed and incompatible with the native species that already lived here. The top soil washed away and the water tables rose, pushing salt toward the surface of the land and, in some places, rendering it absolutely useless for ever growing anything ever again.
So much of life in Australia depends on the land here that it’s a central part of their culture (at least, where I’ve lived). Now, when I look outside, I don’t see just pretty landscapes. I see the millennia that went into this picturesque view and all of the tiny little critters at the floor of the forests that make it all possible.
Living in Australia has unexpectedly turned my worldview into one of wonder and admiration. This world is magical and not just because it’s pretty. It’s magical because it’s an entire ecosystem that evolved to live harmoniously, humans included. Not “harmoniously” as in horror-free. Harmoniously in that every single thing on this planet is essential to every other thing’s survival.
And so I started to look at humans that way too.
Ecuador showed me how beautiful humans can be. Australia is showing me how important we all are to each other.
And that’s exactly why I’m a nomad. So I’m off again to learn another life lesson in a few months and I’m bringing all of my proverbial baggage with me. Honestly, I think it’ll be a good time.
I’m just curious: what are some life lessons you’ve learned? I’d love to know what’s in the hearts of others and if they’re learning the same lessons as I am.