The women’s majlis: Getting lost can help find yourself

I have completed three months in the Australian capital Canberra now, but I hadn’t got around to exploring the entirety of my new home yet.

It was the weekend. I woke up in the early morning and decided to take a journey to nowhere. I have completed three months in the ­Australian capital ­Canberra now, and realised that I have only spent time in one neighbourhood and its surroundings.

I’m privileged to be able to study abroad, but I hadn’t got around to exploring the entirety of my new home yet. So today was the day to practise the art of getting lost. My sense of direction is extremely poor, but I wanted to liberate myself from the self-made cage I had put myself in.

So I mounted my pink bicycle, and began to pedal, and pedal, and pedal. The cooler months are here, and the wind gently blowing across my face and the many colours of autumn leaves falling around me were enough to make me lose myself emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, before I had the chance to get physically lost. After a while, I came across a quiet place amid forest and bushes, so I parked my bicycle and looked at the sky.

Watching the majestic beauty of the sky being reflected in the lake was a sight to behold. I sat in that corner for a while, and just stared at nothingness. I contemplated my life and closed my eyes for a while. My mind was clear, my heart was content and my body was revitalised. I surrendered fully to being in unfamiliar surrounds.

Shortly after, I jumped back on the bike and pedalled around the lake for a couple of hours. It’s amazing how we often plan our life journey – this thought crossed my mind as I took in everything taking place around me. Sometimes it’s possible to get lost. People often get frustrated when they miss planned routes; some might feel vulnerable in this situation, while others make it an advantage.

I thought of these things with a smile on my face as I rode around my new home. As the journey began to weary me, I dismounted, and walked towards, well, nowhere really – I didn’t know where I was going.

After a few minutes, I saw a car. The Good ­Samaritan inside was a woman named Kathy. “Where are you heading to?” she asked me. “Not anywhere particular,” I said, asking her how to get to the other side of the road. My question made her laugh, and she offered me a lift. She placed my bike in the back seat, and we drove off. I had a brief conversation with this kind woman. She was going to her swimming class, and saw me walking with my bike, which she told me seemed a little risky. She took a U-turn so she could “protect me”. She had never met me before, yet went out of her way to protect a stranger. I was speechless and wanted to hug her tightly.

I set out not knowing where I was heading, but it was the best decision I made that day. Had I planned my trip, I wouldn’t have met Kathy. It’s when we don’t plan that we meet different people and discover hidden gems.

Asmaa Al Hameli is a former features writer for The National currently studying in Australia.

If you have a good story to tell or an interesting issue to debate, contact Melinda Healy on mhealy@thenational.ae.

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