I had to scrap this piece quite a few times already. Heck, it’ll be shocking if anyone ever gets to see it at this point. Writing about the rainforest has been such a curveball for me because there’s so much more to it than I ever thought there would be.
Driving from the backpacker-infested town of Cairns to the prehistoric canopy of the Daintree was the first noticeable shift. All of the concrete and service fell away, leaving a land that looked like it belonged in Jurassic World. I think timeless is the best word for it. There’s just something about standing among a forest that’s thousands of years old, that makes you feel a million miles and years away.
Adjusting to the pace of life was definitely an unexpected jolt. Everyone runs on jungle time. Life is simpler, slower. I was so used to being on the go, it was almost draining to make myself stop. It wasn’t until this forced pause occurred that I realized just how hard wired I was to keep moving, moving, moving.
Time moves more slowly here, like a clock in Jell-O. Actually, everything moves more slowly. Internet service, plans, conversations. Initially, I would read that as a bad thing. At home, slow moving is associated with low productivity, laziness, and lack of drive for success. Huge negatives in our culture. I woke up the first few mornings, and wondered what the heck I was going to do all day after work (I would hardly call it work, only two hours a day in exchange for accommodation and all meals. ANYWAY…). My conditioned brain told me I would be wasting my days away if I wasn’t doing something ‘productive.’
The mornings were slow and the afternoons were slow and the evenings were quiet and I started to wonder if maybe this wasn’t the place for me. Don’t get me wrong, the place is absolutely spectacular, but my initial instinct was to wonder how my time would be spent here and what it would be like to not always have productivity at the forefront of my mind. I may have physically been away from the conditioned expectations of society, but my head was still there.
I started to realize that extra, slow-moving time is actually perfect. That means I can do absolutely whatever I want. Aside from biking, sight seeing, and the usual exploring tidbits, it meant that I would have the freedom to indulge in my passions: writing, photography, and video. Honestly, boredom might be one of the leading contributors to creativity. These moments of down time are when my brain is free to roam and wander as it pleases. Every place I go is a new opportunity for a photo shoot, every experience something to write about. I realized that here, slow time is on your side.
This was a new opportunity to really take the time to slow down and reflect on all of my experiences, everything that was around me, and realize that this moment is the most important one there is.
Then, there’s connection. To people, to the earth, and the environment around us. Not the internet. We are all connected, and most of us are so entirely oblivious to that concept, myself included.
I finally got to disconnect from my phone and reconnect with the world around me, and actually begin to understand the rainforest I was living in. There’s such a beautifully intertwined dependence of life in the rainforest. Everything exists exactly the way it’s supposed to in order to create balance.
There’s this plant called an epiphyte that grows on the sides of trees. Some people might see it as invasive, like a vine or weed, but it actually creates an intricate cycle of life. The epiphyte catches leaves and debris falling from the tree that accumulate into a pile, which in turn becomes a natural compost. The nutrient rich soil from the compost the drips down onto the ground, in turn supporting the roots of the host tree that it’s growing on. In the winter, pythons also sleep in the compost for warmth, also protecting the plant that’s helping the tree grow.
Learning even just this made my appreciation of the rainforest so much greater, and realize that we have so much to learn from nature. Everything is connected, and that includes people, too.
The people of the Daintree are some of the most interesting I have met. Honestly, they taught me so much about the importance of simplicity in life. They don’t have big homes, fancy cars, shiny jewelry. Hell, some of them only had tents and some of them just slept under the stars. But they were some of the most genuine, authentic people I’ve met.
From bonfires down on the creek (secretly worrying a croc might come up to snag me), to beachfront sunrises, to eating way more food than we need to but supporting each other anyway, these people have made the kick off of my trip nothing short of amazing. It doesn’t matter where in the world we come from because ultimately we are all seeking the same thing: connection.
I don’t think you can truly appreciate the rainforest until you spend more time there. The way it moves, the way it breathes, the way it captures time like a fly in a Pyramid spider’s web. I’ve only been here three weeks and have hardly begun to see what the rainforest has to offer, but there are certainly a lot of lessons here to be learnt.
Coming back to civilization has been a huge shift and, honestly, I don’t think I’m quite ready for it yet. Too much technology and pollution and mindlessness. So, I’m going back, retreating to the canopy. Which one seems more like reality to me now is the question. Is the Daintree an escape, or the way life is supposed to be?