I am moved by the way history is folded right into the present, where it can remind people of who they are, where they come from, and how they were shaped.
~ Ann Kidd Taylor, Traveling with Pomegranates
If there is one thing I both like and dislike about New Zealand, it’s the way I feel removed from history, culture and something else I can’t quite describe. Of course NZ has its own story, its own “Kiwiana” things and attitude, and so many little things that are strongly unique to it… but it misses a certain gravity, collective history and force of character that is present in other countries. When I walk around here, I am seldom reminded of anything but the “here and now”. And after almost nine years of living here, I think I can say that many people I know live very much for the here and now.
Which, of course, has its merits.
Why live in the past, or focus too much on the unpredictable future when both are out of sight, out of mind? People here know how to appreciate a sunny day, and to put their feet up and rest on the beach; they sure know their coffee (or maybe I should say Wellington people do ;-)); when there’s a problem they fix it themselves. They go on OEs. They are adventurous. NZ is home to some of the best people ever and the kind of strangers who you meet and instantly want to be friends with. Also, it is crazy how people here are so trusting, I have met strangers who have trusted me with their homes, cars, babies and contact details not long after we meet. For all these and more, I well and truly love NZ.
So I hesitate to write the next bit, lest I sound rude or offensive. I honestly don’t intend it as a criticism or complaint – it is just what it is.
What I feel is the “here and now-ness” here also involves a certain ignorance; something that says “I don’t care where you come from, or where you’re going”. Something that doesn’t appreciate the heightened pleasure of a perfect moment after a century of storms. Something that doesn’t really grasp hard work, patience, or the wonder of a dream fulfilled. Something that is resistant to other people’s traditions and culture. Something that doesn’t fully appreciate the vastness and stories of the “beyond NZ” world… despite Auckland being one place where I’ve met people from a huge number of different countries and backgrounds. (Seriously… I have observed many people getting impatient with foreign accents, who confuse China with Korea, and think everyone in India eats butter chicken).
Why have I been thinking about all of this? I guess it’s because I’ve met people from very interesting places in the last fortnight… including Montenegro, London, Columbia and Italy and as you can guess I have had a ball with them talking about all sorts! It’s funny, these days I feel like I have morphed into one of those “citizen of the world” sort of people (yes, I hate that phrase too, but truly I feel like I find a bit of myself in people from everywhere…)
On that worldly/exploratory note. Last night, I started reading “Traveling with Pomegranates” by Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor. A beautiful book which has evoked an avalanche of thoughts and memories… this morning I awoke thinking about the day I visited La Sagrada Familia last year. A beautiful place which features prominently in travel books/websites, but no book could have prepared me for the immense joy and light that flooded my being when I walked in. I remember it because of what had happened just earlier that morning, when I broke down and cried in a sandwich shop… much to the bewilderment of the poor staff there. Anyway! It’s too long a story to go into now.
Life is beautiful. Today is a marvellous day. I am going to go and see Kath now. Ciao!
P.S. Pictured: breakfast today! Warehou roe with Grandma’s shrimp and chilli paste atop potato sourdough from the market. A strange combination but one which was, for some reason, strangely delicious.