I was heartbroken today as I was doing too many things at once and dropped my New Zealand greenstone necklace. It is truly apropos that I broke this necklace. For the last few months I have been reminiscing over my time living in New Zealand. Part of me truly still lives there. That part of me that is so connected to the land that it leaves me believing that I was part of it before in another life and lived there once again in this lifetime to revisit my former spirit.
Upon leaving New Zealand and moving back to the states, I was given my first and only New Zealand greenstone necklace. My friends had given me a farewell party at a nearby karaoke club where I could sing Bon Jovi at my heart’s content and as the evening ended I was given the beautiful koru shaped greenstone. In Maori tradition, my friends passed around the necklace each holding it in his or her hands as they shared words with me while imprinting their energy on the necklace. Each time I place that necklace around my neck, I feel the strength, love, and kindness of my New Zealand family. At times when I have been homesick for New Zealand, that necklace brings me comfort and gives me the strength to continue on my journey here in the states.
As I heard the necklace break this morning, my heart sank. I could feel the tears reach my throat but they never reached my tear ducts. I started to ponder the significance. I have recently been very homesick for the land of New Zealand and what it brought out of me; adventure, knowing, growth, and harmony. But you see, at that time, I could not stay in New Zealand and that was a choice I made. I could have stayed but I knew it was time to come back to America. I felt a bit like I was running away from a part of me while in New Zealand. I felt it was easy to set boundaries with family and friends because I had the difference in time and geography. It was easy to make a stand for myself. I didn’t really have to. I lived in New Zealand, what was anyone going to say to me about not coming to Christmas or visiting or not calling enough? And really, that was the main reason I came home. I found I was coming into my own but that it was easy to do so being so far away. I have never been the one to take the road most traveled so I came back taking the one less traveled.
I came back to the states to take a stand for myself. To be within a certain distance of family and friends and to start choosing for myself and not leaving a boundary of excuses like “I live in New Zealand.” I also spent three and a half years with truly only two suitcases of clothes and camping gear. I realized how little I needed in life. Thus, I knew part of taking a stand for myself was to clear out the clutter I still had in my life via my storage unit. I had a home full of furniture and clothes and knickknacks in a small storage unit. I didn’t need all of this. I was ready to move on in my life with less baggage, so I wanted to come back and do a full overhaul of my old life. I gave away my old suits from the pharma days, threw out old letters, digitized pictures, gave away furniture, etc. This total purge took a full year to do and I’m proud to say I live a minimal life similar to how I lived in New Zealand.
I have been gone, now, from New Zealand for over three years and have lived in my current city for three years. I am about to cross a threshold of living the longest amount of time in a certain place with my husband. I can feel the weight of this as no doubt moving back to the U.S. has been a different sort to adventure from going to tramp Milford Sounds. Like I said, being who I was in New Zealand was very easy. Being the person I am now around a history with family and friends, is one of the toughest things I have had to do to date in this life. Relationships have changed, life goals and lifestyles have changed which has brought a sense of loneliness at times, and the glories I thought would bestow upon me living an authentic life have yet to show up at my doorstep or leaving me feeling fully independent in my life. But truly, when I am feeling perfectly sane, that is not what it is all about. It is the journey. And the journey was never New Zealand or the United States or any other country or city. Because New Zealand, to be honest, was never on my radar until a random conversation on New Year’s Eve 2009.
As I mentioned before, I have been revisiting New Zealand a lot in my mind. I recently did a ten-day Vipassana sit and I thought so much about New Zealand the first five days that I pulled a disk in my upper back which gave me no range of motion with my neck. Thus, physically I couldn’t look back over my shoulder and I took this as a sign that it was time to no longer look back but to look at the present moment and to build from there.
My neck feels much better and I have turned around a few times to look at New Zealand over my shoulder and with that comes the broken greenstone. I sit with wondering, superstitiously, of course, why this happened? Does this mean New Zealand is over, for good? Does this mean I will never live abroad again? Does this mean that person who lived in New Zealand no longer exists? Does it mean I am no longer part of that land or that it isn’t part of me? Does it mean I will never feel that fulfilled, happy, and independent again in my life? That last question sounds a bit dramatic but if I am living authentically, there are moments, even days, when do ask myself that question and it is only fair to be honest with myself that I do ponder such a thought.
The answer to all of those questions is both yes and no. I no longer have a New Zealand address but I could again one day and I know for sure that that day is not right now. I do not live abroad at the moment but as a student of the world, I know that another country awaits my arrival. The young woman who lived in New Zealand is still with me but has grown and strengthened beyond what she could have imagined as she envisioned her future while sitting on Oriental Bay. And although my feet are not upon the land of Aotearoa, I am still part of that land and it is part of me, always. To the aspect of happiness, well, as the waves of Wellington Harbour rise and fall, so does my experience in this world. I am part of the ebb and flow of the ocean and I am also the ocean itself. Thus, being part and whole means that I experience the total range of human emotions and the rise and fall of each individual drop of that rollercoaster. I could be riding the wave and enjoying the view one moment and another I could be swirling at the bottom with the kicked up sand waiting for the cycle of the wave to bring me to the surface again. And in both there is beauty, fulfillment, happiness, and independence, if only I just become aware of it.
I had a sentence come to me just a week ago in my meditation as I wrestled with why New Zealand has still be dominating my thoughts. What came to me was this,
“It is time for a fresh whole new list. Make one.”
You see, when I graduated from college, I made a list of places I wanted to live. Charlotte, North Carolina was on that list and so was to live abroad, country unnamed. I also believe Asheville, North Carolina was on that list as well and I can now check that off too. So, it came to me that it was time to make a whole new list. I have grown and seen beyond what my college eyes have seen and have done so beyond my New Zealand eyes. Thus, it is time to create a fresh list. I have always thought big. Now it is time to think bigger.
I am sad that my necklace broke but I do believe in the divinity of the timing in which it happened. I could hear a voice say that this break is a means for creating a space that wants to be made for something new. And that there is no space for that something new if I keep holding onto New Zealand so tight.
I am seeing if the necklace can be repaired. I’m sure it can but it will not be the same. It is the same with my memory of New Zealand. A complete, full, and beautiful experience, but it will never be the same. As I will never be the same.