View of Cusco

This Week’s Wandering Soul: Max, 27, Caboolture (Australia)

I am cheating with this one:  I did not meet Max on the road, but rather at drama school – very likely mid-interpretive dance-off or salute to the sun.  Max is a playwright of formidable talent, a goddess weaver of words and stories whose award-winning work Trollop is soon to be staged by the Queensland Theatre Company.  Apart from being a so talented that it hurts your eyes and borders on the impossible; Max is a fervent hiker, a lover of Snickers and hater of transparent soup.  We’ve always meant to travel together, so when all the grooviest deities finally aligned this year, Peru was our destination of choice.  During our month’s travels, she quite possibly saved me from dying of rabies in Cusco, while I steadfastly (yet accidentally) ignored her own illness during our trip to ye olde Machu Picchu.  We then made it in and out of the Colca Canyon and got off our sandboards without permanent harm being inflicted in Huacachina…before finally resting and eating an inhuman amount of deliciousness in Lima.  Max is currently continuing her adventures in Europe – where I trust the baby alpaca wool jumper I’ve entrusted to her is keeping her very warm indeed…yessss, Max?

Food Colca Canyon
Max, looking suspicious about her soup, before trying it and realising it was the best thing to have ever come out of a saucepan.

How has being Australian left its mark on you?

I wonder if the space in Australia makes us more independent.  Space there seems infinite and in relationships too:  Time is not as important, or our sense of it is slower.  Meetings between friends don’t have to occur as close to the last one.

Sometimes as an Australian, it feels like you’re a neutral country, or that you’re easily assimilated into others’ cultures.  Sometimes it’s weird being a part of a country which is still so new and has yet to figure out how to deal with its dark history.  I think this links to that idea of feeling neutral – the fact that we don’t have thousands of years of culture to take us to where we are now.

What would your 13-year-old self think about you if they met you?

I think she’d recognise that sarcastic humor that seems to prevail.  I relied on that at 13 to get through ridiculous moments.

She’d be glad that I’m doing something for a living and not relying on others and I think she’d be pleased to see that she doesn’t always feel ridiculously awkward but that she’s still recognisable as the same person.

I think she’d be glad to have mellowed, as at her age she had a lot of strong ideals.  But she’d be disappointed that I don’t have the same willpower or blind passion.

She’d be fairly happy with the decisions I’ve made although she would have thought I’d have travelled more by now.

If she was really my 13-year-old self, she’d be in disbelief that she was looking at me – and also potentially wary, as I was quite analytical at that age.

If you could meet your 13-year-old self, what would you say to her?

Maybe I’d tell her to start writing at that age, recording things in detail and thinking about them.  By doing that, she’d probably make her teenage years easier; those years of feeling like an alien in your own body.

I’d probably give her some fashion advice!  Although, I feel that at that age I was already becoming aware of the fact that it didn’t matter if I didn’t “fit in,” (thinks)  – it would be a weird meeting, anyway!

How do you make decisions?

While I’m independent, sometimes I just like them to be made for me!  But, generally I base my decision on what’s going to cause the least harm, both to others and to me.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

Do you think you’re on the right path?

I’m content, I guess, because I have to live some sort of life!  While you can never do all you thought, you’ll end up doing lots that you didn’t expect.  In some ways, I think you should just keep moving, as there’s no point dwelling on what could have been.  There’s no right or wrong way to move through (pauses) – well there is actually, but it’s subjective!

How do you feel when you think about your future?

I feel weird, like in the last several years I’ve felt like I haven’t had the blind ambition to become what people perceive as “successful,” so I’ve used my own scale of judging “success.”  Also, I know that people’s opinion is subjective, and that you can’t please everyone.  I’m not worried about being lauded by others.  I want to do things in my way and hope that someone out there will connect with it.

I feel like “five year plans” engineer life rather than seeing where it takes you.  I think if you make decisions by your own moral compass, you can’t really go too wrong.

What fascinates you about Australia?

That being so new, it has a real chance to be a leader in many ways (technology and accommodating people overall), but that we’ve probably already fucked up along the way with how to treat the Indigenous population.  It’s fascinating that it’s only a matter of years ago that white people came with thousands of years of technology, illnesses and vices.  It will take time to come to a meeting point.

About humanity?

That everyone has some good and bad in them and that sometimes people go through life asking questions about how they can make it more beautiful, while others go through with a checklist of what to achieve.

About yourself?

That I both love and hate writing.  And that I form strange loyalties to people very quickly.

What scares you about Australia?

That we will stop asking questions as a nation for the sake of comfort, especially with regards to politics.

Also, it scares me that it seems like it’s the desire of our politicians to keep the masses uneducated and driven by consumerism.

About humanity?

That we will stop trusting.  Good communities are built on trust.  Also, that people will stop giving a reason to be trusted.

About yourself?

Lots.  Things worry me more than scare me.

That I’ll stop trying.

That I’ll get too tired.

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