Among the flurry of preparation, phone calls, and checklists I was working on today, I took a few minutes to read the first few pages of the two new books that arrived in the mail this afternoon. The books that I hope will keep me somewhat entertained during the two four-hour, overnight layovers I will be forced to endure in two weeks.
I am about to embark on a journey. A journey in which I will undertake the fieldwork required for my PhD. In two weeks, I will leave Adelaide for Dili, Timor-Leste and this blog (I hope) will help me to vent, remember, and add to my field notes.
Unfortunately, this journey involves long layovers in both Melbourne and Darwin. Books were a necessity.
The first book, Living History, is Hillary Clinton’s autobiography and the first few pages inspired the title of the blog. The following line from the Author’s Note (p.XIII) leaped off the page:
“I believe that the people and places are important, and what I learned from them is part of who I am today.”
It stood out to me because it’s true. I’ve travelled. I met people from around the world. And every single person and place has made an impact on me, has changed me in some way. Some of the impacts have been profound, some I might not have even noticed. But they have all contributed to who I am today. And this next adventure, to Timor, will be no different.
The first few pages of the second book offered thoughts that might not have been so philosophical, but brought back memories of past trips, and were so accurate it was almost spooky. The book, Hello Missus, by Lynne Minion, an Aussie who caught the humanitarian bug and found herself in Timor-Leste.
“Realising dreams comes with risk… After all, that’s what makes them dreams, otherwise they’d just be occurrences. Yes, realising dreams requires bravery… but at this moment I’m wondering if they also require enormous fucking stupidity.”
Yep, been there before. There again now, actually.
“Is this idealism, or is it madness?”
Yep. That’s it in a nutshell.
Idealism. It’s a big word. A loaded word. A word that all those who have done as I have, studied the class notes, spent hours on research, wrote the papers, and finally decided on a career in international development know all too well.
My idealism is usually kept secret. Buried away, under all of those “I know better than to think I can save the world” essays and discussions I’ve had over the last 5 years at university. But it’s there. It has to be.
Or else I wouldn’t be embarking on this journey in the first place.