Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman

Enlightened Dutchman Cover

It was roughly 800 kms to Sydney and we were barely half way there. Being as tired as we were, we decided it would be safer to get some rest. We knew Australia had plenty of camper parks, all we had to do was find one. I downloaded an app and found a free camper park not too far from where we were. We got there only to find a deserted area with a shady toilet and no lights.

(From Getting Used to the Flying Dutchman)


On top of parking our van in the dodgiest camper park ever and deciding to actually spend the night there, two hours into our sleep it felt like we were sleeping somewhere outside … in Siberia … completely naked. Travelling Australia during the winter season was nothing like I had imagined it would be. On the bright side, I remember thinking, I will not have to experience all the stereotypes associated with tourism in the summertime.

The temperature in the van was glacial by the time we woke up. As if that was not enough, my friend woke up to me sobbing. It really did not look like the start of a good day. With sleepy eyes and still not fully awake, she hopped into the driver’s seat and moved the van to the picnic area. I opened the door and my nostrils were instantly invaded by the chilly air of a winter morning. It felt so refreshing that it automatically altered my mood for the better.

Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 01

It was breakfast time. After struggling for a bit, we figured out how to boil water for our coffee and we put together a nutritious breakfast. Doing all this in nature had a magical effect on both me and my friend. Our mood was contagious and nature seemed to be sharing our blissfulness. The sun felt warmer on my cheeks, the wind was softer with my hands and the insects started their morning dance around us.

We made sure to enjoy the surroundings and decided to take a short walk by the river. I climbed a tree, which gave me a childish-like sense of freedom and just chilled in nature. It was then and there that it became obvious this journey was not going to be about ticking things off a list. It was about learning to transcend the need to pinpoint a moment in time and start looking at life in its wholeness, which meant learning to enjoy and appreciate the in-betweens.

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Bearing that in mind, we left for our next destination. We weren’t driving for too long when we became aware of the magnificent explosion of reds in the sky. That first sunset we witnessed in the rear window was the physical confirmation of my previous thoughts. This journey was so much more than just driving a rusty van from point A to point B in a state of numbness. On the contrary, we were supposed to internalize everything happening around and within us. It was a journey within a journey – a journey of the mind and inner self, shaping the journey happening in the physical world.

We were now closer to our destination, again in a totally natural setting but this time in the mountains. As John Muir famously said, “The mountains are calling, so I must go”. Driving up the mountain, we could literally see the night falling over its kingdom and the darkness getting thicker. We were on a camper park hunt, again, and our GPS took us off the beaten track through the forest.

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It was getting spookier with every breath we were taking. The wind was blowing harder, so the tree’s branches started their nocturnal waltz. It was both mesmerizing and unsettling.

The deeper we went into the forest, the stronger we could feel the wicked spirit of it. The branches were moving with so much aggression as if they were trying to turn us into their prisoners. The animals were making ghoulish noises and the light of the moon could no longer crack through the impenetrable darkness.

We decided to drive back to the closest village and park wherever. Having the moon pour its light on us again was extremely soothing. It’s funny how we all crave to spend more time in nature, but we only want to do so on our own terms. At the slightest hint of evil, chaos or wilderness, we give up and run back to the safety of society.

But is it really safe? Can we really call what today’s society has to offer us ‘safety’ or is it just a myth?

Bothered by my existential thoughts, I couldn’t fall asleep, so I decided to open the sunroof, hoping my mind would clear at the sight of the moon. I couldn’t see the moon, instead, a million tiny lights became clear in the sky and, just like that, all my thoughts were washed away. It was surreal! They appeared to be so close, almost close enough that I could touch them. Minutes after, my eyelids felt heavier and I realized in the morning that I had fallen asleep stargazing.

I woke up with a strange idea. What if our Flying Dutchman was a metaphor for our souls, inspired by the legendary ghost ship. Just like the ship was doomed to forever sail the oceans, our souls are doomed to forever sail through life in a constant search for meaning.
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But what if our Flying Dutchman also wanted to teach us a lesson? Maybe, just maybe, we have the power to stop sailing. Maybe, the moment we realize that everything meaningful is already within us, we will be able to stop chasing butterflies. And maybe, the moment we’ll understand that everything we experience in the physical world is just a fleeting moment in time, caused by our inner journey, maybe then we will be able to experience life in its wholeness.

Credits

Image Title Author License
Enlightened Dutchman Cover Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 00 Teodora Dascal CC BY-SA
Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 04 Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 04 Teo Dascal CC BY-SA 4.0
Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 05 Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 05 Teo Dascal CC BY-SA 4.0
Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 02 Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 02 Teo Dascal CC BY-SA 4.0
Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 01 Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 01 Teo Dascal CC BY-SA 4.0
Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 03 Enlightened by the Flying Dutchman 03 Teo Dascal CC BY-SA 4.0