I hate to break it to you, but there aren't any steakhouses in the Outback.

Day 15-19:

After having the experience of a lifetime in Lady Elliot Island, I thought that no place on Earth could compare to the colors that put the great in Great Barrier Reef, but my five days and four nights in Carnarvon Gorge proved to be one of the greatest adventures that I’ve experienced in my life thus far.

Carnarvon Gorge is located in Central Queensland about 370 miles northwest of Brisbane, our study abroad home base. It is known for its great diversity. This place has got everything: aboriginal rock art, kangaroos that will suddenly pop out in front of you from the bush while you're walking, sugar gliders, sandstone canyons, echidnas that will scratch on your tent at night and then burrow when you try to find them, and kookaburras that will literally steal food from your mouth (trust me, I watched it happen, and there was blood. Not pretty).

We spent our time in this beautiful place climbing mountains---both physically and mentally. We learned about indigenous cultures. We didn't listen to TLC; we went chasing waterfalls. We saw life in a different way.

I have very different beliefs and perspectives than many of the individuals accompanying me on this trip. At times, I have felt very challenged to defend my beliefs, but I have learned that even though we may see the world in different ways, we can help each other get through a variety of obstacles. We would be sitting in class discussing different worldviews, but then be relying on one another to grab our hand and pull us over a large rock during a hike thirty minutes later.

At the end of our first full day, we laid together out under the most beautiful sky that I have ever seen in my life. You could see every star twinkle. You could see the craters on the Moon and Saturn's rings. I almost ran out of wishes to place upon the massive number of shooting stars that I saw. It was then that I was met with the beautiful thought that no matter where you live on the globe, no matter what beliefs you have, we are all one under the same sky.

I could not help but almost cry at how reaffirmed my own faith was by that sky. Laying down in the Outback with the dingoes howling in the background, there was no denying of two things: I could see thousands of stars painting the sky and I could feel God’s love holding the brush. That night allowed me to think about life in such a clear way. I was able to just lay there and be met with thoughts of what I want from my life.

Simon, our guide at Carnarvon, spoke to us about the importance of finding a balance between work and leisure. He lives a simple life on the Takarakka Bush Resort site and told us that he’s never made enough money in the past 15 years to be considered over the poverty line, but he is completely content with his life. He said that about 20% of people are cutting back on their workload. They are going from higher paying, more demanding jobs to less stressful jobs with subsequent lesser pay, so that they can take the time they want to enjoy life.

When speaking to people my age, we so often get caught up in the stress of growing up. All we want is to be able to drive fancy cars home to our large mansions, settle down and start a family, and be able to provide our children with everything their hearts can dream of. Now I’m not saying that those are bad aspirations, but I think we’re putting a whole lot of pressure on our ourselves, especially for people who hardly have their drivers’ license and haven’t even been able to vote yet. How are we supposed to know what to do with the rest of our lives? Life isn’t perfect, so why the hell are we trying to be?

Say your goal is to work really hard at the beginning of your working career so you can make enough money to retire early and travel the world. Well that’s just fine, but you have to acknowledge what risks you’re taking and the sacrifices that you’re making. Spending more time at work so you can buy your kids more expensive gifts is not going to stop them from growing up. You will never get those moments back that you missed. Saving your money for your entire life to finally be able to get out there and make an adventure out of it isn’t going to stop sickness, car accidents, and life shattering and altering moments I pray you never have to experience. All we know that we have is this moment that we’re living in right now, so you should go out and seize it. Do something crazy. Do something unforgettable. Do something you’d never dreamed you’d do in a million years.

That’s what I’m doing right now, and let me just say, it’s working out just fine for me.

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