A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 245: Saturday Life Quotes – Robyn Davidson

robyn 2

“It seems to me that the good lord in his infinite wisdom gave us three things to make life bearable- hope, jokes, and dogs. But the greatest of these was dogs.”

Robyn Davidson is most famous as the author of “Tracks”, the story of her Australian odyssey, traversing 1,700 miles of outback with only her dog and camels for company. A movie was released about this story in 2013, starring Mia Wasikowska. I highly recommend both the book and the movie (in that order). Robyn is a very gifted and insightful writer whose career has spanned 30 years. I decided to include her words today as the Saturday Life Quotes:

“The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavour is taking the first step, making the first decision.”

“And there are new kinds of nomads, not people who are at home everywhere, but who are at home nowhere. I was one of them ”

“Real travel would be to see the world, for even an instant, with another’s eyes”

“To be free is to learn, to test yourself constantly, to gamble. It is not safe. I had learnt to use my fears as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks.”

“To be free one needs constant and unrelenting vigilance over one’s weaknesses. A vigilance which requires a moral energy most of us are incapable of manufacturing. We relax back into the moulds of habit. They are secure, they bind us and keep us contained at the expense of freedom. To break the moulds, to be heedless of the seductions of security is an impossible struggle, but one of the few that count. To be free is to learn, to test yourself constantly, to gamble.”

“It is better to proceed with one’s duty in the service of others than wallow in the pain attachments bring”

“Capacity for survival may be the ability to be changed by environment.”

“The discomfort I felt under that moral pressure has stayed with me all my life and made me eternally wary of the blindness of ideological certainty.”

“When I die, this is the only gold that will go with me. What does one take after death? Just one’s good deeds and the love of others.”


A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 138: Women’s Lives Lived Large

robyn davidson

“The world is a dangerous place for little girls. Besides, girls are more fragile, more delicate, more brittle than boys. ‘Watch out, be careful, watch.’ ‘Don’t climb trees, don’t dirty your dress, don’t accept lifts from strange men. Listen but don’t learn, you won’t need it.’ And so the snail’s antennae grow, watching for this, looking for that, the underneath of things. The threat. And so she wastes so much of her energy, seeking to break those circuits, to push up the millions of tiny thumbs that have tried to squelch energy and creativity and strength and self-confidence; that have so effectively caused her to build fences against possibility, daring; that have so effectively kept her imprisoned inside her notions of self-worthlessness.” – Robyn Davidson, Tracks

Just yesterday I came across this quote, which I had taken the time to write out free-hand, in a bent up notebook stuffed down in the bottom of one of my backpacks. I remember reading and re-reading this section in Robyn Davidson’s book. And I remember feeling angry for the women in my life, especially my wife and daughter. And I remember growing in my understanding of the frustrations girls and women encounter which they should never have to encounter, yet they encounter them every day. Every damn day.

As a man, I would strongly recommend to other men that they read books like Tracks. It is the true story of Davidson’s incredible odyssey, her trek in the late 1970’s across 1,700 miles of the Western Desert of Australia, accompanied by her camels. It was made into a movie a couple of years ago staring the incomparable Mia Wasikowska; that, too, I highly recommend. Why do I target men? Because, for the most part, we don’t have a clue what it means to have pressure to NOT be daring, NOT be fearless, NOT be fully ourselves. Little girls know this reality far better than most grown men. It is time we learn more about this reality so that we can help to change that reality. It starts by hearing the stories, by putting ourselves in their shoes, by putting in the work to really understand.

Robyn Davidson faced the sexism, the belittling, the objectification, the ridicule, the harsh conditions, the pain, the very real threat of physical danger, and the oppression of mental anguish and self-doubt step after step across the outback. She knows what she’s talking about and she deserves to be heard. This is kick-ass stuff and it is a woman’s story.

I want the women in my life to be daring, to take risks, to be fully themselves in whatever form this is meant to be. I want them to be free and creative and real so that the world can experience what wonderful people they are. Their’s is a kick-ass story, too, and it deserves to be heard but, more so, it deserves to be lived, completely and without restraints. Lived.

robyn and camel