Just One Step


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Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Rotorua
August 29th 2014
Published: August 29th 2014
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My first few weeks have been quite a challenge. A pinball to every fancy of the imagination, my mind chose to jump on a rollercoaster of emotions, leaving me tossed, tumbled, turned upside down and just a little fed up. I almost chucked it all in the Pacific and walked away. It’s funny though, how the universe works because as I sit and write about the past few weeks and think of how difficult they were, Rumi gives me that knowing look which has become so aggravating, one eyebrow raised and a half smile on his lips:

What sort of person says that he or she

wants to be polished and pure,

then complains about being handled

roughly?

Well fine then, Mr. Sassy Pants!

And so I continued tramping, from Cape Reinga in the north down to Rotorua, which is where I am currently staying. In that time, I have surfed sand dunes, been to the far northern light of New Zealand, tramped through the bush, hitched a ride with an old hippie, watched rugby with some frightening characters, walked along black sandy beaches, squeezed myself through caves, and broke bread with the native Maori people. And all the while Rumi prods me forward, sometimes gently but mostly with a really big pointy stick.

But that’s all too much to cover in one blog, so we’ll just take on the first few.

So from the beginning. All I'm going to say is the first days were difficult, emotionally and physically. Jet lag hit me like never before, pinning me to my bed most days. I slept so much my roommate asked if I was alright, which was rather considerate of him. But from those sleepy grey, endless hours I've been pulled out into sunnier and greener pastures. And as is his way, Rumi was just waiting for me with his words of wisdom, reaching out a guiding hand through the black:

Love is bringing everyone by the ear to a place reason cannot go.

Sunlight does not go away.

The stars are suns.

I’ve attempted to navigate using these stars, hoping that eventually the light on the horizon will shine on a new found clarity. Sometimes I feel as if my ship is on course, at others it is rocked by emotional waves that crest far above me and wash across my decks, drowning me with their intensity. But as I creep along, ever so slowly, I notice from that dark place, beautiful things have started happening.

After Auckland I made my way to the Bay of Islands further north. This place is a water haven, filled with an abundance of activities, with native NZ bush and kauri trees surrounding deep green sheep pastures and salty breezes coming in off the Pacific. Paihia is a simple little town, with a slow pace and populated by backpackers and rowdy rugby fans. Tramping through the bush around town, I was rewarded with sparkling blue waters, trees whose roots were like tentacles in search of prey, and a ride from an old hippie who took pity on me and my desperate plea for directions. Across the harbor is Russell, the original capital of NZ, once home to pirates, whores, and convicts. Unfortunately, depending on your type of crowd, the town is now dotted with quaint cafes and ice cream shops and luxury real estate that none of those hooligans could afford. But the bus driver will take time from his day and sit with you in the sun, telling you about how this small village became his home as you munch on an ice cream. I surfed the dunes along Ninety Mile Beach, catching a mouthful of sand because, like an idiot I wouldn’t stop screaming. And at the very tip of the North Island is Cape Reinga and I stood in the shadow of a lighthouse as it kept watch over the churning white tipped swells of Tasman meeting Pacific. And it was through all this that I first saw Love.

It didn’t happen until I put down the book and pen and stepped out of my head and did something. The act of doing never really gets me motivated and I’m slightly ashamed to admit to my own laziness. Every time I think of going on a hike, or heading up to snowboard, or even walk along the beach, I get so tied up on the preparation of it all that the doing just seems out of reach and not worth the time. Pathetic, isn’t it? But when you’re traveling, there’s no comfort of home to keep you indoors, there’s no couch to curl up on because your home is in a backpack and frankly I just can’t fit anything else in the thing. So I got up off of my comfortable backside and took myself out into the world around me.

And then Love crashed in like a ray of sunshine breaking through the endless night sky. It filled me completely, the warmth of air in my lungs spreading across my chest and I tasted the limitless possibilities of the universe in every breath I took. This lasted for a moment only, in Cape Reinga; a moment of pure, divine happiness but I knew that this was the real beginning of my spiritual journey.

The mystery of presence

will not arrive through the mind,

but do some physical work, and it comes

clear.

And it was through the doing, through the interactions with people around me, through laughter most of all that I felt, truly, that this wasn’t a dead end quest and that I would indeed find calmer waters ahead. Because Love isn’t something of the mind and it isn’t something you can learn; and it isn’t enough to study and it isn’t enough to pray. Love has to be felt and searched for, and all it takes is one step.

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