Splitting Rhythms

There is something comforting about splitting wood. Your arms swing in rhythm with your shifting feet and the crack of splintering logs shudders down the ax handle.

And then you miss.

The ax head digs itself into the stump used as a prop. Or gouges a small piece out of the flagstone. Or whiffs completely.

I could make some grand metaphor about life, but I don’t think I need to. Your arms grow tired as you thrust your energy into chopping what once was living. People sometimes look at me a bit funny when they see a small female figure throwing herself into the reduction of a substance.

I smile back. There is too much that is odd and interesting and beautiful in the world to begrudge anyone the curiosity of something unusual.

(Here are some of the photos from the other day’s hike. The featured photo is one angle of my little home.)

 

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset
Just beyond those rocks the water drops off into the waterfall shown two photos below.

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

6BFF9E78-241A-4C1B-935E-7C3FB6D02C70
They used this pool for Gollum’s fish catching scene.

Perhaps the Greater

DSCF1473

“I can’t wait to do the Tongariro Crossing!”

“You girls want to go tomorrow?”

Yes.

The Tongariro Crossing is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. You traverse volcanic fields to see sulfurous craters, ringed by snow streaked mountains. The Emerald Lakes sparkle against the dusty background as you slip and slide your way down loose rocks to meet them. One of my favorite parts was the mist that slunk across the ground to meet the opposite mountain peaks. It curled around us as we made our way up and over the last bit of high elevation before beginning our descent home towards the Blue Lake.

I was simply amazed throughout the entirety of the day. The contrast of the snow, the smell of sulfur, the fact that I was literally on Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings, all of it took my breath away…along with the elevation and large amounts of uphill hiking. One of the later legs of the trip provided a kaleidoscope of golds, reddish browns, blues, and lichen greens along with a desperate desire to reach the next restroom because the last one was over four hours back. We joked and sang as we heaved ourselves over the next ridge. They cursed me under their breath when I ran up a hill because of how excited I was. We got geography lessons about how if you happen to find yourself in a pyroclastic flow, you’re f***ed. (High temperature, high speed death cloud of ash.) Those of us less geographically and geology inclined have taken a liking to Amy’s original phrase “I’ll igneous your rock.”

Off to watch Lord of the Rings. May the Force be with you.*

(All photos are unedited.)

DSCF1220
We hiked to and over the low point between snow capped Mt. Ngauruhoe to the right and the slopes of Tongariro to the left.
DSCF1316
Clouds best served with volcanic craters
DSCF1329
Up to Mt. Ngauruhoe
DSCF1345
Icy footsteps in snowy places
DSCF1359
Shaped by erosion’s hand
DSCF1363
If you placed your hand on the stones you could feel the volcano’s warmth.
DSCF1386
One of the Emerald Lakes
DSCF1403
My favorite part of the hike
DSCF1419
Blue Lake seductively revealed only a small portion of herself to us, hidden largely in the shroud of mist.
DSCF1459
Over the volcanoes and into the lands beyond.

 

DSCF1477
Lichen is the Earth’s way of bringing color to the grey surfaces of the world.
DSCF1484
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” – The Fellowship of the Ring

*Definitely a Gandalf quote.

Yellow Flower Frames

While gazing out the window on our drive to and from town today, I searched for a way to express just how beautiful the sight before me was. One sentence that came to mind was “I want to wrap my soul around it and give it a bear hug.” I wistfully pondered finding a way to integrate this vista, these mountains, that sky into my being.

My train of thought drifted into wondering why we desire to own what we love. Why do I scramble for a reason why this belongs to me. Why do I crave the right to a private piece of a world that was never meant to be mine? I was meant to be a part of it, stride across the future creating my path, but never lay claim to something that has been here so much longer than me.

I notice myself grasping for justifications of my love for people, locations, hobbies, even fandoms. As if proclaiming my devotion will somehow make it my own.

It doesn’t.

I could understand the desert and its powerful silence through and through and it would not be my own anymore than my neighbor’s home is mine. I could write my mountain devotion in verse after verse and my words would not give me right to its slopes and wisdom. I can mention that one of my closest friends has been a part of my world since I was 13 and our lives will continue to collide for years to come, but that does not give me claim to their life and soul. No significant other will belong to me. No friend will belong to me. No part of this world will belong to me. I simply am here to celebrate or enhance or help or be subject to it.

And if all this is true,

Than I do not belong to the world.

I am my own.

And I will not sell pieces of my being just so that I can say I have purchased a part of someone or something else’s.

(All of the photos are unedited.)

7BB149C6-247D-44B2-9A4C-0B99C9995BE2
Thermal pools are a world all their own

7848FF8B-7C8B-437B-8EC3-4CDF73441284

04D4C7AA-B333-4D1A-911B-2F32E70B18F9

2345B4DF-CEE5-412E-9B06-663EFADD6C4F
I have people who get as excited as I do about stopping to take pictures of the lookout!
F8A34777-FAD5-46C7-AD6E-1B2A8FCBDF09
Honeybee-autiful…eyyyy

F3721089-D73C-465E-876C-F1885648BCA9

F6122597-77A3-450A-AE8F-EFBA91F94B4A
Mt. Tongariro
D7797C90-74F2-4E0F-98B2-A1013CA66EB5
Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe, (Mt. Doom)
77E042F2-923C-462F-948F-6ED63814649A
Mt. Ruapehu
6327969C-DEFF-467E-AE7E-695D424A99F7
Mt. Tongariro

From Far Away

As of tomorrow, I will have been in New Zealand one whole month. Last week sometime I thought through that fact and freaked out a bit. “Time goes so fast! It will be a year before I know it! Ahh!”

I’m learning how to not be afraid and also give myself permission to be honest when I feel fear. It’s a balance. I spent a good chunk of the past several weeks pulsing with nervous or anxious energy in some form, telling myself that I knew without a doubt that it would work out and be exactly what I needed.

To my delight, I have walked through today without an ounce of fear. I found the correct platform, was thankful for the wonderful bus driver who ensured my luggage and self have been on my destination bound buses, and I am watching the world go by. Or maybe I am letting myself go with the world.

I could not feel more eager for this job and place. I know I will have more hard days. It’s inevitable. I also know that I will only continue to grow in ways I cannot see and collect memories from moments I do not anticipate.

On a side note: sheep are really cute from far away and so are the baby cows. (I do know they are called calves.)

And did you know that New Zealand has one of the most interesting collections of flora in the world? The Ice Ages did not eradicate as much of the temperate vegetation as it did in the Northern Hemisphere. Consequently, it is not as homogeneous a native forest as it is across the temperate zones up north. There are much fewer conifers and deciduous trees down here.

I am rather fond of trees.

Passing Eternities

“Each time you love

love as deeply

as if it were

forever

only nothing is

eternal.”*

Young people are often told that we go scurrying to each other’s arms in search of physical affection and from a lack of self confidence. It is assumed that we cannot establish deep relationships. I have been told on multiple occasions that relationships are only worth the end result. Basically, if I cannot see myself with this person for a very long time, than why date them at all?

And to some extent all of these things are true…for some.

What if I said I go into relationships expecting them to end? I’ve gotten negative reactions to that statement. Many seem to think that it means the quality of the relationship will be poor. Is it because people automatically think that it will have less commitment?

What if commitment didn’t mean undying loyalty until the end of life, but mutual understanding and support until there was an decision to find a more healthy way of living? What if the pain that resulted was not something to be afraid of, but something to learn from?

I have NO intention of belonging to someone.

I suppose it could be said that I am missing the point of relationship by asking for something that I refuse to consider permanent.

But since when has there been a point?

I am seeking connection with people and through connection, be it friend, romantic, or familial, you grow and understand. When you make a friend, you do not walk into your interactions thinking This friendship is only as good as the length of time I have it for and that length should be forever. You realize that it will shift based on your mutual needs.

I desperately need relationships of many types in my world.

But in no way do I need them to feel whole. My being will never be defined by another soul, no matter how we choose to work together, but I will love them with all I am able to give for the health of all involved.

 

Clearly the only thing I am searching for is someone to hold me. Can’t you tell?

 

*A stanza from Audre Lorde’s poem “For Each of You.”

Justifying Why

“You don’t have to justify anything, Abiel.”

That is probably only the second time I have had someone stare me in the eyes and say those words with that much force.

I justify everything, expecting that the standard I hold myself to is the standard that others expect of me. And inevitably when I don’t meet my ridiculously high standard I start justifying to everyone else why I am the way I am or what happened or whatnot.

Below are three statements I have been afraid to make public to certain circles of my world for fear of having to justify. I’m not going to justify them.

I believe in God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, but also many aspects of other belief systems. I do not call myself Christian.

The LGBTQI+ community is one of the strongest I know and I admire the risk it takes to be who they are in the face of blatant human rights denial.

I’m not going to get married.

I love you all!

Welcome Friend

It’s a beautiful little space. Not out in the country like the one I have spent all my time in previously, but one that is cared for, full of light, and traditional in a way that feels familiar.

I walked into a room with straight backed chairs arranged in a semi circle of two rows. The little table in the middle had a guest book, two small vases of flowers, and some pamphlets that looked as though they held the thoughts of people who cared. I was instantly aware of the eyes that were assessing me as I entered. Not out of judgement. Most don’t do that in this circle. They were gazes of curiosity. Visitors aren’t terribly common, especially rather young ones with blue hair.

I found an easily available seat, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. I’m home.

I have said it before and I will never hesitate to say it again: the Quakers are some of the most badass, incredible people you will ever meet. They call themselves Friends and are honestly the most apt community to do so. Quaker acceptance, generosity, and desire to change the world radiates through words and smiles, but most importantly it is shown in their actions. The Friends work to change the world, and their efforts are visible.

I had one of the most wonderful mornings with the Wellington Friends. A warm thank you to your meeting for showing me the kindness that would be shown to you at the Visalia Meeting. I am grateful for my new community.

You are all being held in the Light.

i want to rush that.

One day I’ll look back on this and smile because I will know that things are better now and I had no idea what was coming. I thought this to myself as I quickly made my way into a library bathroom stall, praying the place would stay empty for a while.

Then, I sat down on the (surely disgusting) bathroom floor.

And sobbed.

My already stuffed nose and sore throat were simply exacerbated by this rather inconvenient endeavor. I could feel the salt collecting around the corners of my eyes, stiffening eyelashes as I struggled to explain to my mom why I felt so sad.

It wasn’t because I was missing home. I searched through my mess of feelings trying to find the beginning of the knot. Is it wishing to be in California? Definitely not. Is it feeling completely alone? Not even that. Is it I’m afraid? Nope.

I felt as though I was trying to untangle a kindergartner’s yarn project; I was dealing with something that had no intention of ever being undone in that way.

Finally I found it.

I just want to belong. I know I am home in beautiful Aotearoa, just as I am home in California, but I want to belong. I want my community of people who shift through conversations with me and are seeking to live. I want to feel as though I have a purpose for being here. To have something I can pursue in the form of a job or a class or a workshop or skill. I’ve spent a good chunk of the past two weeks setting goals and intentions for myself. I’m creating the lifestyle that I want. I know I am.

But as I stumbled into the women’s toilet, I felt the weight of small difficulties, large transitions, and no consistent friends outside of my wonderful hosts, (who really are probably the best possible people I could be with right now). I simply cried, knowing full well that it would be better soon, and also ready to bite the head off of anyone who tried to tell me so.

And in my very hard moments through the day, I had people I loved there to talk me through it. This is one grand adventure.

But f*ck today was hard.

I went to the National Library though and the Central Library. I stood on a fuzzy map of New Zealand. I read poetry and bought myself hot chocolate. I looked at bus passes and considered where I might go next.

I let myself be.

After all, it’s a very big change and we wouldn’t want to rush that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well we would, but it’s probably just a better idea that we find a quiet place to cry and people who say “I love you.”

Sugar Glazed Stories

Please don’t float by this representation of someone’s pain. Please take a moment and reflect on what this means for humanity, how we need to change it.

Please. Just. Understand.

Or perhaps I don’t want you to. Perhaps your prolonged moment with this piece would only mean that you take advantage of a silent space to dwell on your own pain. Those skulls made of sugar and resin are not representative of you only by some grand cosmic stroke of luck. Maybe comprehending that would drive you mad in some curious way.

That’s what I’ll tell myself. That way, the next time I see one of you breeze by with your eyes flickering over art as though they were only moving images from a bus window, I can have a story. I can have a reason for why I feel sad that you didn’t hear someone else’s story.

Or maybe I’m just not hearing your story.

Soggy Dancing

I sat by myself in the Wellington Central Library. I felt soggy. I knew my journals and books were feeling the same way. I was dreading the walk home. It would be 45 minutes in the rain, and that was taking the bus to get rid of an hour of the walk.

I just wanted someone to talk to. A friend.

Wellington libraries have free Wifi, so I was able to talk to a friend at home, but I was well aware of the fact that if I did not stand up and find a physically present human to talk to, I would go home feeling lonely and sorry for myself.

“Just don’t be desperate,” was my chant as I wandered around searching for the librarian that I knew would engage me in conversation. All desperation does is make you a rather difficult individual to be around, as well as propelling what you are seeking far far away from yourself.

Finally, I just decided to use the restroom. I had to anyway, and I had a sense that after I was forced to wander through a different part of the library, I would be able to find a conversation.

Sure enough I found a group of three friendly librarians sitting at a desk and within minutes I was able to have a connection that drew the four of us into what became a conversation about politics, New Zealand versus American rape culture, travels, geography, books, and how I could find the three of them every Saturday at the very same desk.

Damn. It always works out.

On my way out the door, a librarian I had talked to previously engaged me on the beauty of books, music, film, and how being surrounded by so much knowledge and story and just creativity in general is one of the most life giving things you can experience. My smile was too big for my mouth as I skipped back into the rain.

And then as I was waiting for the bus, one of the initial three librarians I had conversed with was waiting at the same stop. I was able to have a third wonderful conversation with someone that I know I can find and talk to again.

My extroverted heart feels at peace. There are always interesting people out there and always a way to start a conversation.

It’s prompted a thought. If there was no music, what would make you dance?

Mine would be people. People make me dance.

 

(Featured photo is edited. I will no longer be saying when they are edited. I typically use VSCO for post processing my photos. If you have any questions, please ask. All photos will continue to be my own.)