By Stan Stewart.
‘HOME2HOME’ - I found it fascinating. Dennis Kailing a 24-year-old German with no experience of bicycle-touring sets off to circumnavigate the world. His primary goal is to discover what makes you happy? He also refers to his gigantic trek as ‘a journey into uncertainty’. Without previous experience of cycle touring and without a plan, in almost two years he cycled 43,600 kilometres. He made a video of his journey (I don’t know how) ‘HOME2HOME’ and I found it on Netflix.
He mostly avoided the tourist hot spots and meandered down back roads in countries most of us think of as dodgy and dangerous. He didn’t find it so. In fact, the milk of human kindness fed and sheltered him in many out-of-the-way places. One of the countries he chose to cycle through was the new nation, Timor-Leste – East Timor. I had never seen video footage of this country and I found his journey in this struggling country fascinating.
But the country he found most difficult and boring was, believe it or not, Australia. He rode his bike from Darwin to Cairns 2650 k and from Cairns to Sydney 2440 k. What did he find difficult? For most of this journey there was straight, sealed highway for k after k but there was no one there. It was empty and the countryside all looked the same. Dead boring.
Before Australia, he had just left Asia where on the terrible roads, there were people around every corner, kids waving and adults beckoning him to share their food. The Australian highways should have been a joy, but they were not. Day after day he pedalled through the great emptiness of the Australian outback. Someone should have told him it would be like that. But I bet he never asked.
From age 14 to 20, I lived in a men’s hostel which accommodated 400 men. For most of that time I was the only person under 21. One thing I soon became aware of was that I was very popular with some of the migrant men from small European countries. Several bought me small presents, food and occasionally clothing. But after a while I felt uneasy with them. They had a peculiar interest in my trousers. This made me feel creepy and I told them so. The little presents stopped and the friendship if that is what it was, cooled.
When I was around thirty-two, I started encountering the word, ‘Lesbian’. I did not know what it meant, and I had to look it up in the Britannia Encyclopaedia. It seemed to me a strange, almost unbelievable, phenomena. Gradually I became aware of the wider meaning of lesbian and homosexual. I realised why the men in the hostel gave me presents and why they were so interested in my trousers. No one in my family or in my circle of friends had ever talked of such things. No one had ever told me.
Now, 2023 the genie’s out of the bottle. Talk of such things is part of everyday conversation for adults and believe it or not, for children. A friend of mine who is the Principal of a rural primary school told me of a six-year-old girl who comes from a couple known for their pot smoking. etc. “She (the little girl) is asking the other girls in her class to have sex with her.”
I feel slightly embarrassed to say this, but I think the time is right to beat a different drum. I want to affirm the value of long-lasting relationships. It seems like a radical thing to say, but I believe living together in marriage is worth the trouble. And there will be trouble – differences about priorities, values etc. But what I am saying here is sticking with the marriage contract is worth the effort. I understand that bouncing about and bed hopping can be fun, but it can also be disorienting and devaluing. Making a decision to stick together come what may (marriage) also has its rewards. It may not be better for exotic sex, but it can be the strength that comes from stability, from promises kept and knowing we will be together for the long haul.
That’s something I would like to say NOW loud and clear. Against the background of modernlife,it may seem like to my contemporaries think that this sentiment comes from the age of the dinosaurs. I don’t care! I know I am a fossil but even fossils can teach us something. “Committed relationships may be boring or annoying at times, but in the long haul they are worth the effort.” If you have read this, You can’t say no one has ever told you. And I am going to keep on saying it again and again.
Caption: Dennis Kailing, German cyclist, befriended many people throughout his 42,600km ride.