I am at my parents’ place; I have been since Monday, after a hasty decision and a quick kiss from my boyfriend, I found myself in the car with my father for the two-hour drive to Cedar Pocket, north of Brisbane.

I had left with a heavy heart, seeing for the past few weeks nothing but a blank stretch before me, and, frustratingly, having no desire to make anything of it. I thought an escape from the city might help pluck me out of this grey and despondent space, so there I was, zipping down the Bruce Highway with Dad. Conversation was stilted; he politely asked about my freelance work, a topic I supposed he assumed was safe, could be counted on to sprout lengthy and congenial discussion. He wasn’t to know it is about such that I have struggled lately, lost to indecision, trying desperately not to whip out the measuring tape and evaluate my career, as a near 30 year old, in relation to those my age: the accountants, managers, and bankers whose eyes gleam with self-importance and pride when I see them at a trendy riverside bar on a Friday afternoon and exchange thin niceties. Fair enough, I suppose; they are playing the game. I cannot.

Cedar Pocket, where my parents now live after 20 years of the 9-5 and rushed school runs in a green outer-city suburb of Brisbane, is indeed a lush pocket of hinterland, where one can discover hidden treasures: dry plains dotted with gums that transform to vine-threaded rainforest, rockpools tantalizingly cold and crisp on hot summer days, the bleating of sheep floating on the wind as it travels over the rolling hills. From the top of the mountain upon which my parents have perched their proud, gleaming white Queenslander, I can see forest, farmland and farmhouses with rusting roofs; knobbly fence posts like arthritic fingers scattered across the land; driveways winding down mountains like streams; and the distant glimmer of a dam catching the sunlight. I can hear the distant thrum of a tractor’s engine, a caw of a lonely crow, and the whisper of the trees as the country air dances among their dry, glittering leaves. A Labrador stretches out next to me in the sun, soundless bar from the occasional heavy sigh, motionless bar from the occasional perk of her ears as the birds chatter, as a truck rumbles across the dirt road at the foothill of the mountain.

After a full five days here, and yes, one telehealth appointment with my psych (a small benefit, one could proffer, of a pandemic), I again feel warmth seeping through my skin, a glimmer of excitement in a pounding chest, a spark of confidence, a mind shrugging off the dust and beginning once again to whir with mystery and intrigue. I have started to write again. I have started to dream again. I have started to recognise how I am the only person who can create something upon this blank canvas that is my life.

And how have I coaxed this mindset change?

While owing in no small part to the hour I spent chatting with a paid professional, where the objective eyes and experiences of another helped to broaden my perspectives, I also think that my time here in the countryside has helped. It has served as a reminder to enjoy life’s small pleasures: walks through the bushland, sunsets, cuddles with the dogs, dinners with my Mum and Dad, and luxury to do with my time what I please. It has made room for a fresh, clear-headed, confident outlook on life with knowledge that I have the incredible fortune to choose where I go and what I do with it.

This is why I urge you, dear reader, if you can, to chase some fresh air. Even if that chase is a simple walk through your neighbourhood, and even if that fresh air must be filtered through a surgical face mask. Allow your body and, most importantly, allow your mind to wander, to imagine the possibilities available to you should you choose to believe them, and should you choose to believe in yourself.

I’ll leave you with some photos of my time here, and a tea recommendation, because never have I been so in love with a Ceylon tea. Never!

Until next time,