Just west of Auckland on the Tasman Sea coast lies the beautiful Bethells Beach. Often appearing deserted, it is a spot which surfers and walkers enjoy, amongst others. The coastal path there is a part of the Hillary Trail which runs for 76km around the west coast.
Just inland from the beach, a short walk takes you over massive sand dunes to Lake Wainamu, which sits at the base of cascading waterfalls in something of a bowl, surrounded by the Waitakere Range mountains and said sand dunes. It is stunning to see, even on a cloudy day. The cool lake water feeds a stream which empties into the nearby ocean.
I was contemplating recently those moments in life when you feel a sense of total peace, perhaps some people would relate it as a spiritual experience. For me, I think those moments are generally involving communing with the natural world – other species who have total freedom of whether they are near you or not, or interact with you or not, especially in a world where humans predate or deliberately trample on so many of those species without a second thought…considering ourselves superior…for food or sport or otherwise.
It is unusual for me to feel those kind of things with people, but occasionally that can happen too. I guess hugs with loved ones or close friends can achieve a similar feeling. Those moments tend to be quiet also, words having no part in it, fuelling that peace.
In New Zealand, it is notable that a number of the native species (the diurnal ones at least!) are quite trusting and will not be quite so fearful of humanity as the UK. Even introduced species somehow seem more “friendly” as a rule…while keeping their distance. Whether this is because of a later arrival of mankind and differing attitudes or the fact that mankind is proactively working to save so many species in NZ, who knows! Perhaps we should just put it down as a superb outcome and enjoy the mystery and inner peace it can bring.
One upshot of having such a wonderful time in the UK is that it inevitably raises questions about the future. I will never regret the decision to move to New Zealand because it has given so many wonderful experiences which I would never otherwise have had but there is suddenly a pull on yourself from a number of sources when you return home for the first time.
There is the emotional pull of missing friends and family (though of course moving somewhere based on someone else being there would most likely be a huge mistake in the making), a cultural pull of missing certain things from your homeland, a pull from the countryside (not really from the cities!) and a pull of missing the British humour and the feeling that everyone generally understands you. All of these things (plus a good few others) seem to club together to raise doubts, especially when so many good feelings are crammed into a euphoric, short timespan.
However, leaving a booming economy, vibrant multicultural environment, conservation experiences and the wonderful countryside of NZ would be tough in its own right. It takes a long time to establish yourself in a new place and maybe a true regret would be to throw in the towel after just a few years and go back to something which I left behind for good reasons in the past. Add to that the upshot of Brexit (plus the divisive ignorance it has given rise to in the British culture), its potentially negative impact on the economic future of the UK and you begin to think that a wait-and-see approach is much more sensible. It seems more sensible to think about moving forwards instead of moving backwards.
The key question seems to be this…what kind of life do you want? It is also the hardest to answer. One thing has become clear, sometimes you have to change yourself and not just the place you live, because if you move to a new place, you will eventually revert to the same basic routine.
Has anyone had similar doubts or experiences themselves that they would like to share?