We’re a couple of two; Wendy, an Australian, 24 years old and Jurek (pron. yoo-rek, as in ‘you reckon’), a 28 year old Pole. We haven’t always been the people we are now. We haven’t always done the kind of things we now find ourselves doing. Because, like most people, we’ve been too scared. Yet here we are! And we’ve decided it’s a journey worth sharing. Turns out living the life you only let yourself dream about starts with one small step… Drop the tension!
With the support of The Cuddlers, Lentil As Anything, Sunday AcroJams and the Saturday fris-throwing communities of Melbourne we started feeling braver and ready to explore how people live together in all sorts of environments.
But to really understand the journey’s beginning, you need to get to know our two protagonists a little better:
Brainy Wendy was always top of her small class in Gippsland, Victoria (a tranquil farming region in the south-east corner of Australia) and her tendency for people pleasing got her onto the academic treadmill, without her really noticing. She was very clever so she kept taking on subjects for very clever people and getting lots of encouragement. She embarked on a very hard Masters studies in Biomedicine (whatever that is). At the end of the first semester, her research was progressing well, but she was miserable, stressed and exhausted. With some help from meditation and many 4am discussions about ‘self-denial’ with a best friend, she realised that if something isn’t easy, perhaps it isn’t right.
Wendy quit her course and took on another project – she participated in the wonderful community of Lentil As Anything (we recommend further reading on this amazing project) that brought her into the world of sharing, generosity, community exchange and simply – better life. She realised that you don’t need to be an expert to start helping people, and that indeed it’s often the simplest acts that have the biggest impact.
Full of inspiration and powered by the unbelievable energy of Lentils, Wendy decided to set off for a journey. Lentil had taught her that the power of community inclusion can be more healing than any biomedical treatment. She wanted to explore this community thing further, alternative versions happening in Australia & not-necessarily-so-alternative communities around the globe. Her trip mission seemed clear enough with her head swimming with ideas surrounding communal living, education, generosity, openness, contributing, empathy, grass-roots projects, food salvaging, crafting, cooking, sharing, local action, hitchhiking, couchsurfing, smiling, trust, gardening, permaculture, heart… and then she met Jurek…
Jurek’s definitely less nerdy 😉 He had probably never been scared to do the unconventional thanks to the support of his family always telling him ‘I know you’ll make it’ and encouraged him to make the most of the new-found freedoms of a liberated Poland. He started travelling more-or-less at the same time as his long university studies in Robotics. He travelled a lot, always seeking authentic, non-touristic places where he could learn from locals and history, to incorporate the best he found into his own life.
While robotics left him tech savvy, he quickly realised life behind a screen is not the life he wants. And so he’s done everything from hanging fiber-optic cables on telephone poles by Norwegian fjords to playing tour-guide to Russian tourists on a tropical Malaysian island, to avoid his dislike of desks. Jurek believes that everybody’s hidden ultimate aim in life is to be happy and we can achieve it only by being surrounded by people we love and keeping them happy, while contributing something to the humanity. How can we achieve this when working long hours for some corporation, whose only aim is to make more and more money, and coming home everyday tired and stressed to see our tired and stressed family?
Despite these dreams of another way, with a brain a bit overheated by (work and) travelling, Jurek chose to come to Melbourne in search of (temporary) stabilization and some promising work opportunities to start that not-so-desired career… And then he met Wendy…
After initial thoughts of “what bad timing!” The pair decided to turn the thought on its head and realise that it was incredible timing to find a connection with another person. So they made plans for Jurek to join Wendy in Sydney and continue to travel together. If the journey was about following your heart, best to live by it from the start.