Exploration has always been in my blood.
I grew up on a farm in the hinterland of Byron Bay, Australia – a surfy, laid-back tourist town full of weed-smoking, tie-die-wearing, dreadlock-sporting hippies, mixed with rich former-executives looking to escape that peculiar corporate hell which would make even Dante blush.
I spent my youth trekking and exploring, hacking through camphor forests, scrambling along sea-cliffs and rambling across the rolling hills that have led some to compare Byron Bay to Tuscany or the Amalfi Coast.
One of my earliest memories is wondering what was over the other side of those hilltops – I imagined a whole other world there, a place mysterious and wonderful and terrifying.
When I discovered that there was not just one world to explore, but billions upon billions, and that those worlds are probably teeming with life, and that some of that life may even be staring back at us as we stare up at them – I was instantly hooked.
Thus began my lifelong obsession with space.
The stars are my church – always have been and always will be.
Staring up at the night sky – beautiful as it is in Byron, with no light pollution to blot out the majesty of the galactic dust cloud – often gives me what I can only describe as a transcendental experience, almost an atheist form of worship.
In high-school I would skip classes to sit in the boys’ toilet block, with audiobooks of Asimov or Heinlein pouring through my headphones, transporting me across space to other worlds, while the lads in the stalls next to me smoked weed or watched porn on the school Wi-Fi. I fondly remember listening to the Foundation novels – of the rise and fall of Asimov’s galactic empire – to the stink of adolescent piss stagnating in the trough and the sound of the ibis outside scavenging through the lunchtime scraps.
Perhaps it’s this wanderlust, this unshakable desire to roam freely through the world(s), which turned me into something of a troublemaker in the eyes of those in authority.
I have clashed with authority since almost as soon as I learned to walk.
On my first day of preschool, I was told I could not walk around barefoot as I always did (and still do to this day). My tactful reply? I chucked a ‘starfish’ on the floor, sprawling across the front doorway spreadeagled until my parents were forced to take me to a more laid back institution.
In primary school, I was a budding writer and cartoonist, writing short stories and filling art books with comic strips of soldiers, tanks and sword fights – the sorts of things most boys love at that age. That was until the all-female (and all-feminist) teaching staff deemed my art ‘inappropriate’, yelling at me in front of the class and demanding that I instead draw flowers, butterflies, love hearts and other ‘nice’ things.
After years of bitterness over this, I recently decided to channel that resentment into motivation, picking up my pencil and opening my art book for the first time in almost a decade. I have now reconnected with my passion for art and writing, and am currently working on a sci-fi graphic novel that is far more raunchy and risque than my school teachers could ever have imagined.
At my authoritarian Catholic high-school, I broke the mind-numbing drudgery of each day by riling up my religion teachers, pointing out contradictions in the bible, engaging in long-winded theological debates with bored substitutes and ditching mass to make-out in empty classrooms.
I was always a rebel without a cause.
But then I found one.
In libertarian philosophy, I found the words to express what I had always felt – that most ‘authority’ figures are merely predators who care only about dominating their fellow man, and that every man woman and child has the right to control their own lives, not live as slaves to the whims of politicians and generals.
In Praxis and the Unschooling movement, I found the means to fulfil my desire to break free, to live life on my own terms and to spend every moment of every day doing what makes me come alive. I learned to use the entrepreneurial mindset to craft a life that is as fulfilling and joyful as an office job is miserable and soul-destroying.
Far from a rebellious ‘phase’, dying down with the hormones of adolescence, I have proudly and defiantly forged my life into a monument to rebellion, a shrine to all the agitators and abolitionists, all the rebels and visionaries, all the innovators and explorers who propel our species forward despite the naysayers, despite the evil men and the petty men who mortgage humanity’s future for their own personal gain.
My story is one of exploration and rebellion, of curiosity and defiance, of creativity and the yearning to be free.