The Simple Joys of Travel
January 19, 2020 Free Range Farmstay, Kihikihi, New Zealand
I am sitting on our small balcony drinking lemon tea, watching the sunset smear colors across the clear sky. There are sheep grazing just below me and I hear doves cooing in the tree not five yards away. The night is perfectly still, not even a breeze. As I gaze over the countryside, I feel that I am the only here except my beloved beside me. I take a deep breath and smile. Peace. Everything about me is relaxed and still right now.
This moment takes me back to a week ago to Hawera. I was taking a walk through lovely King Edwards Park, a surprisingly immaculate and groomed garden park for such a small rural town. It was then that I suddenly realized my shoulders were almost three inches lower than normal. I was not subconsciously holding them up, so I didn’t have to relax them as I exhaled. There was no tension. Despite the garden and housekeeping I had been doing that morning for our Workaway host, I was officially more relaxed than I had been in years! I could credit this to the massage I had had in Wellington five days ago, but it wasn’t likely it had succeeded where so many better ones had failed. Instead, the most probable cause is six months of living this life. Yes, I am sad to report it took six months.
Although it may have just been two months, when I finally (finally!) recognized that I had very little outer stress, so I could finally (finally!) let go of the remaining inner stress. I had an A-HA moment in Nelson that took a while to work its way into my tissues: despite a life with no external stresses (work, house, school, kid activities), I had still been feeling stress. But how? Why?? I hadn’t left behind the inner, self-imposed stress voice that we women are SO good at: “Where should we go next? Is Lucas happy? Is he learning enough? Are we having enough fun? Are we doing enough to help the world? Do we have enough money? Are we doing this ‘right’ (whatever that means)?”
How ridiculous and self-defeating! I have been watching our newfound friends handle life’s little ups and downs with grace and humor, and it finally clicked. Once I finally decided to let go of this annoying voice in my head, my attitude changed. I’m really trying to absorb the ways of being of the Hawaiians (“shaka”) and Kiwis (“she’ll be right, mate”). I’m learning to let go of the planning, trying to get things “perfect” and practicing flexibility and spontaneity. I’m not sure I would have done this at home. I needed the extended time away to “get it.”
The farm is now shrouded in darkness as the stars and the milky way fill the sky. Wow! Simple moments like this or walking through a park are an interesting counterpoint to the newsworthy travel days we have had lately: zorbing, ziplining, blackwater rafting in caves.
Those are exciting, hyperbolic times to photograph, post and rave about.
These are the plain minutes of vacationing, maybe not as post-worthy but just as memorable. And the best thing? We can all create and recreate these moments no matter where we are. Surely New Zealand doesn’t have exclusive rights to this bliss-inducing feeling. I am fascinated that it took venturing down to the Southern Hemisphere to tap into something I had been trying to find in myself for two decades. Yes, it is likely an extended holiday feeling that is finally (finally!) taking hold, but I hope it is also a New Way of Being that I am learning from our travels and the people we meet.
I intend to pack this feeling into my suitcase and carry it home with me, my most precious souvenir.