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Published: April 8th 2015
I've watched the ferry go by a hundred times, seeing the white crested waves crashing against its hull as it pushes through the water. I've followed it's slow progress away from the harbor, a snail on the ocean desert inching along at a steady, unhurried pace, and I knew I'd never be able to catch it. I was a statue to its passage and each time I wanted to cast a line and hook onto it, have it pull me out of the quicksand I'd fallen into and free me from the this self-created stagnation. But it passed first in front and then beyond my sight and I knew that once again I would stay behind and wait.
But now, finally, my turn has come and I can feel the rumble of the engines beneath my feet as they beat a rhythm in my head. Children dash around, their excitement palpable by the energy in the air and parents allow a few more minutes of freedom while we're still docked. I ensconce myself in a chair with a view not of what lies ahead but with what I'm leaving behind and as the spinning wheels turn the water from blue
to turquoise, we push off and the city begins to dwindle in the distance. As we steadily glide further away, I can almost hear the slurping of the quicksands as they surrender their hold on me.
I have been in this country for nine months, eight of which I spent in Wellington, a city I both love and hate. The day I arrived it enticed me with its beauty, the sun shimmering betwixt clouds and highlighting the surrounding hills, with their houses like ladybugs on the green bush; and the royal blue waters of the harbor sparkled like daytime starlight. People wore smiles openly and I felt I could easily fall into step here, make it a home. And this home, I soon discovered, wasn't where my heart was, but where it was shattered and remade.
Wellington created unforeseen challenges, both materialistically and spiritually, and at times it felt more like a prison cell than a sanctuary. I constantly questioned what I'd seen that first day, believing it was a trick of the sun, a brief spell cast upon my eyes that slowly faded into nothingness. I felt a callousness there, a distance that kept me at arm's
length and sometimes it's as if there was nothing past the surface but a vast emptiness big enough to swallow me whole. And just when I lost all hope, the clouds would break apart, the sun returned and Wellington unfurled like a flower after a cold, dark night and once again bathed us in its indescribable beauty.
There comes a point in every challenge when you ask yourself if enough is enough. I pondered this question endlessly in Wellington and wondered why I didn't just pick up and leave. Money, for one, that cheeky little twit that always evades your need, kept me there but too, looking back now, I held onto the idea that there was value in my experience, a nugget of truth I'd only be able to understand by staying. There had to be a meaning in all of this and Fate, it seemed, (or the contents of my wallet) wouldn't allow me to run any further.
To give an entire account of what I learned would turn this blog into a short novel. Honestly, I've got journals filled with the stuff and their educational importance is running a tough race with their combined weight
added to my bag. But there are some key points that I am taking with me. I learned first that difficulty met with laughter transforms more easily into a blessing than the kind met with a frown. I could have learned in one week with a smile what had taken me months to learn with tears.
"Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you've been given, the door will open." -Rumi, "Undressing"
Life, it turns out, is not a melodrama. An odd lesson to learn now, I admit. Possessing the flair of a drama queen fit for any Shakespearean stage has allowed me, up till now, to invest universal importance on anything from the length of my eyelashes to the glance from a stranger on the street or the odd comment from a coworker. To let things be as they are, without flair or poetic prose, was at first more challenging than saying "No" to chocolate.
"Don't forget that everything you deal with is only one thing and nothing else." -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I discovered too that friends are the mirrors to which we all must look to see the beauty in something as dark as our own imagination. Wellington would have pushed me to purchase a ticket home if it hadn't been for the people I met and the friends I made there. From the friend
whose giggles pushed me into hysterical laughter, or the one who sliced my negative view points like a sword put to cloth, or the friend who bravely took on any challenge as a chance at personal improvement, or the one who simply found beauty in any situation - each and every one of them showed me, in their own way, what Love was and all the different forms it could take.
"I love this world, even as I hear the great wind of leaving it rising, for there is a grainy taste I prefer to every idea of heaven: human friendship." -Rumi, "Grainy Taste"
So as I sit here on the ferry, in a seat that now faces the Marlborough Sounds and the beginning of the South Island, I realize what my stay in Wellington has done for me. It was a molding ground, a place where weaknesses were revealed and strengths unearthed. If I hadn't experienced all Wellington had in store for me, both materialistically and spiritually, I would be sitting on a plane destined for the States at this very moment. My life in that city of unexpected sunlight prepared me for what lies ahead and now I embark on this next adventure with a touch more wisdom and a more open heart than ever before. Suffering, challenges, questioning, they'll all come up again, but now I know what rock bottom can feel like and it's simply one step up that can lift me out of it.
"A voice comes to your soul saying Lift your foot. Cross over. Move into the emptiness of question and answer and question." -Rumi, "A Voice Through the Door"
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