Summer is so very welcome. I’ve had a view days back in the city of Hamilton, NZ, and what a difference the sunny warm days have made. Usually on my morning walks, no one greets me. After a few days of warm sunshine everyone looks at me and smiles. Even those riding their bikes and who come up from behind me greet me as they pedal passed. They all smile. The weather has been so wet for so many months and now, everyone I meet has raised faces and look happy.
And Bruce and I are now back in Coromandel. We are so blessed and are grateful we live in such a beautiful place. The photo is of our 100 year old single plank kauri launch. She is on her trailer waiting to be towed out of the water. It is time for her six monthly water-blast and anti-foul. There are not many old wooden boats left in the country and we have many hours of fun aboard our old boat. Thank goodness we have a ‘real’ summer again after years of rainy, windy summer days.
I am excited to have the review from Flaxroots. It can be found on http://www.flaxroots.com/flaxflower.
The other good news is I have begun writing again. I have had an article accepted for Walking NZ and look forward to seeing that in print.
We have plans to build me a purpose built little writing house where I will have grand views of the Coromandel Harbour and of the bush. How fortunate I am to be married to a man who is enthusiastic and supportive of my writing endeavours and believes in me so much he is prepared to build me a detached writing space. I will post photos once we have begun the building process.
The above is a quote taken from a poem written by the Polish poet Tadeusz Rozewicz. I found the sentence in John O-‘Donohue’s book ‘Anam cara’.
The above sentence links well with the counter narrative of another book I am reading entitled “Consumer Detox” by Mark Powley. Powley’s book turns so many taken-for-granted ways of living our privileged lives upside down and shakes them all about. I am finding it a liberating, albeit, challenging read. As I continue to try to live the principles of pilgrimage daily, slowly myself down to notice my breathing, my eating, attending more carefully to relationships, and all the while thinking about my next book – working title: “Living a slower life – Living the principles of the Camino Frances” which is still very much in draft form. Mark Powley’s writing is a timely and welcome find indeed.
I am realizing afresh how impatient I am. I have written of being in pain and how vulnerable I have felt with it. So many lessons in that. Dare I say that the pain has been, on some levels, a gift? So many people in our world live with pain on a daily basis. How useful it is for me to be in a situation where I experience just a little of what so many go through. Hopefully, such a realization will grow my compassion and empathy for others.
Living with pain means slowing down. It also means not being able to do some of the things I would usually do. And I do not like asking for help. I would much rather be my independent self, doing things when I want and how I want. So this gift of pain requires me to ask for help and there has been joy in the companionship of the doing together. I have found myself feeling happy to have another along side doing the things that I have to leave off doing for now. That too has been a blessing.
The needing to wait for things to be done, until another can do them, has also left me feeling vulnerable. Have I become so used to doing things ‘instantly’ that I have lost resilience? How good it is for me to have to wait, to be patient, to say ‘no’ to some things that I would really like to be doing. To actually take some time to rest.
I have long admired the resilience I see in other people. Perhaps they have grown resilience through the patient art of waiting, perhaps even through a level of suffering?
Once again, I come back to the principles of pilgrimage and the lessons I learned when walking the Camino Frances. Rest is important. I do not have to ‘maximise’ my life even though so much of the culture around me, suggests that I should, that I must.
Perhaps I am learning. My pain has lessened over the past few days. My body is on the mend. I hope to remember this time of asking for help and the ensuing joy and happiness that I found in such experiences. May I live life more slowly and not get caught up in over-enthusiasm so that I remember.
I am aware that so many in the world live with constant pain. Living with constant physical pain is new to me and my situation is not permanent. I slipped on a wooden deck some six weeks ago. When I got myself up off the deck I told myself, “I have got off lightly indeed.” I experienced no pain at all, but over the next few weeks, I started to experience pain in my left hip. I mistakenly did not go to the doctor. ‘Too busy’. How silly. I have been going to an osteopath which in the past has given quick relief. Not this time. I finally had an ultrasound and I have small tears deep in the thigh muscles. I stopped walking, then dropped off some stretches, but still I keep needing to pop pain killers.
I have noticed that my emotions fluctuate according to the amount of pain I am experiencing. How do other people, who experience constant pain remain hopeful and engaged in life? Of course, I too remain hopeful and engaged, but sometimes I have been challenged to answer questions without being short.
My hope is that when my pain has gone when healing is complete, that I will retain compassion and empathy for those I meet who have pain as a constant companion.
The other morning I had clay in my hands. I joined the class of three – the other two members of the class were my 10 year old granddaughter and another girl aged 8 years. Together, we created bowls, jugs and I a soap dish. We had a lovely morning, each taking our turn waiting for the accomplished potter and sculptor, Kay Olgivy, help us along. Time of course was irrelevant, morning tea time came and went and so engrossed were we, the end of class came before any of us were expecting it. My granddaughter remarked, “it was so quick and so long this morning.” We are eagerly awaiting the call back when the firing is completed and we can begin our lesson on glazing.
How different was the pattern of time for me today. With my husband Bruce, I am cleaning and painting our former home getting it ready to sell. I noticed my old foe, Self-Pity creeping in this morning and time dragged. In reality, I do not need to be pitied. I have so much going for me and live a wonderfully privileged life. It is just that I resented being back in the house, still cleaning it up. Yet it needs to be done to get the best possible sale price and of course I will be one of the two who benefit from a good sale.
While feeling just a little resentful, and noticing the self-pity, I also noticed myself noticing my attitude and emotions. Walking the Camino de Santiago and my subsequent writing of Kiwi on the CAmino: A Walk that Changed my Life has made me so much more self-aware. So instead of continuing to feel miserable about my lot today, I was able to think ahead and at the same time appreciate how much work Bruce has put in over the past four weeks. His has been the lion’s share of the work. He is exhausted but continues to whistle and sing as he goes about his work.
I became my own potter, reshaping me as the clay, turning me from an ugly resentful figure, into one that could appreciate the work both Bruce and I are doing to get our former home ready to sell. What a gift both walking the Camino and writing about the walk have been. Instead of wallowing in the self-pity and being grumpy, I was able to keep going, looking forward to the finished result and grateful I know myself just a little bit more than previously.
To be at peace with myself, others and the earth, I need time to myself. I need to be quiet so that I can hear my own thoughts and rest in each moment, preferably with gratitude. The longer I have away from times of silence and solitude, the harder I find it is to stay with being grateful, an attitidue which I think is so essential to my well-being.
There is of course a place, and a necessity, for activity. At the moment, with my husband, we are busy renovating our home with the view of putting it up for sale within the next fortnight. The house is looking better by the day and it will be a grief to let it go. However, we cannot hold on to everything, despite encouragement from the voice of sentiment. To keep the current path of living life daily within the principles of pilgrimage, I need to live a slower, quieter life.
With the publication of Kiwi on the Camino: A Walk that Changed My Life, the requirement to market and sell my book is dominating my life outside of house renovations. I understand that even authors who are fortunate enough to publish through traditional publishing houses, find themselves having to market their book. It is a challenge. The time and energy needed takes me away from the writing space. Once the house is sold, I will intentionally be creative about setting days aside once again for writing.