Intrepid Tales on Insulin

Type 1 life adventures

Nightmare Calm at Dunlop Swamp

The long, slim meme arms slide in from behind the tent to pin me down at the shoulders.  My legs kick furiously as I struggle desperately to call out to my guide Matt in his tent two metres away.  No volume.  Can’t he at least hear my feet thrashing and thumping about? Three words are being scrawled in front of me on a whiteboard that’s appeared on the tent wall: ‘YOU WILL SEE’.  I tell myself to try and breathe deeply so that I might be able to push out sound.  Nothing.  A vaudevillian man in a hat materialises at the tent flap, announcing that it’s show time.  I’m resisting and still scrambling to find my voice.  The man starts slicing and peeling back layers of skin on my right shin to expose my deeper insides.  Eventually it occurs to me that I cannot do anything.  I decide that I may as well stop fighting it all and just accept that whatever is going to happen will happen.

In that instant the hands release me and glide back.  My eyes open under the tent fly to the bright moon lighting the wilderness of Nitmulik National Park.  I’ve never experienced such a vivid and real dream.  My dreams don’t usually finish so neatly – they generally meander into nothing or I wake up needing to pee.   Despite the menacing content I have no racing heart, no fear or disorientation.  I’ve woken instantly with utter calm and resolute acceptance of the profound message that I’ve just been given. Was the message from within myself or issued by something spiritual like the figures we’d seen in the rock paintings over the past few days?  Matt had told me about his own trippy encounter with a meme spirit up here in the incredible stone country…

dunlop swampIt had been five years since I first started trying to find out why I was always in poor health. I was exhausted by this two steps forward, one step back perpetual challenge. Correlating with this, I’d been struggling with some of the big picture mid-life crisis type stuff.  Job dissatisfaction and job security. What I want to do when I grow up.  Country versus city for home. Who I want to be.  Future oriented ‘what if?s’ rather than enjoying the present. Learning to manage a chronic illness.  Piecing together remaining bits of my health puzzle. The pressures of expectations. Feeling dull and boring. Trying to appease other people.  Fear of change. Too scared to take chances or expose myself.  Not wanting to conform but feeling like I’d become conventional.  Lamenting at not expressing my creative side.  Feeling obligated.

I’d go round and round in my head thinking about what I should do, to the point of not really being able to do anything.  I was restrained and held back, effectively stagnating.

That intense dream was about my struggle against myself.  It was telling me that it was now time to let go and release, to go with the flow rather than worrying about what could happen and allowing fears and doubts to stifle me.  I had to trust that things would be ok instead of creating blockages.

I’d just spent four days unblocking sweat pores and purging old thoughts as I hiked carrying 18kg through amazing remote terrain.  For Type 1 diabetes I’d had to plan, get insulin cool bags and make dosage adjustments along the way to account for heat and exercise.  This time I’d been pushing myself in the right way to achieve something.  Travel experiences can be transformative. The dream acknowledged this trip as a catalysing moment.  It’s given me courage to start this blog and to take the chance on the project of hiking in all Australian states and territories by the end of 2014.  I don’t know exactly how that’s going to work yet, but I’m excited about letting it unfold, and somehow it is that attitude that is giving me the capacity to make it happen.

P.S. Pic above is the very tent in the exact spot where the dream took place.  The other pic is part of Dunlop Swamp itself – our water supply and my swimming hole.

Dunlop Swamp


2 comments on “Nightmare Calm at Dunlop Swamp

  1. Pj Glover

    we dont need books for bookclub instead we can catch up on your fun meanderings. Love it

    • njd1insulin

      Aaagh, reminds me I need to hurry up and collect Great Expectations (teensy bit distracted writing and upgrading low tech skills). Thanks, PJ.

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