After submitting the third draft of my dissertation proposal, I decided to give myself the freedom of reading a non-academic book. I chose Tracks by Robyn Davidson. Davidson wrote the memoir about her 1,700 miles journey through the Australian desert with four camels and a dog. She recounts her time learning to train and care for camels and talks extensively about the mental battle she fought with herself during the nine months she trekked alone through tough terrain.
Davidson completed the adventure in 1977 but the book was re-released after the story was made into a movie in 2013.
The story is interesting and poignant in its presentation of courage. At the end of the book, Davidson writes that she is shocked that so many people were in awe of her feat. She claimed that she had no more brave bones in her body than the next person but shared:
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 endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision.
Another book in this genre of women doing extraordinary things is Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. She treks along the Pacific Trail alone braving the weather and harsh conditional. I’ve always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail but I think it is so commercialized now that it would be hard to experience isolation and peace. There are likely few places left on earth where we can find the same conditions that Davison lived in.
When you walk on, sleep on, stand on, defecate on, wallow in, get covered in, and eat the dirt around you, and when there is no one to remind you what society’s rules are, and nothing to keep you linked to that society, you had better be prepared for some startling changes.
Davidson has also written other books including: Traveling Light and Dessert Places.