‘In Australia when an Aborigine man-child reaches sixteen, he is sent out into the land. For months he must live from it, sleep on it, eat of its fruit and flesh. Stay alive… The Aborigines call it the Walkabout.’ (‘Walkabout’, Nicolas Roeg, 1971)
The Walkabout is a ritualistic journey native to early cultures of Australian Aborigines. Walkabouts lead young men to live in the wilderness for a period of time. It is a rite of passage for the culture, a ritualistic separation from his tribe.
We can be so busy with life, so entrenched in our tiny universe that we come to believe that this is all there is. From this vantage point we judge the world we live in. We use social media to build a life that is at difference with reality. Our imagination fueled by the unreality of reality shows, life of the stars and the breakdown of their society.
At a fragile time in the life of a young Aborigine he was taken from the bosom of the family home to learn how to live, how to survive and how to pass on wisdom to the next generation. It must have been uncomfortable, emotional and testing. Yet this transition to manhood was deemed necessary to ensure the continuation of the race. This was Walkabout which saw Youths turn into men. They learned how to survive in a hostile world without resorting to humiliation and degradation. They learned the noble qualities of life, the richness and the vulnerability of humankind.
Such tradition has long left not only Western man, but also the Indigenous culture. Replaced by the need for instant gratification in the comfort of their home. Life moving so rapidly that there is no time to think, reflect, change direction or contemplate the real importance of life. Speed and the art of being forever busy are qualities essential to reality being avoided. Slowing down and boredom follows, fueling the need for the next ingredient of instant gratification. Walkabout however made sure that they were never bored, even though life must have been slow. They had to reflect, listen and learn to survive and come out the other side – mature, responsible, with a new and more pertinent understanding of the affairs of life.
Walkabout is a manifestation of solitude and soul searching – modern day Walkabout should be the same thought. Are you getting solitude to find purpose for your direction?
‘Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.’ (Anatole France, Poet,1844 – 1924)