This morning, as I’m sitting at my desk creating complicated web-based data visualizations for large-scale client websites, listening to Brooke Fraser albums, soon to be munching on Tim Tams, my mind is thousands of miles away. Seven thousand, three hundred and four miles away to be exact.
Ten years ago today I arrived for the first time to Aotearoa New Zealand.
I was a month shy of 19 years old. As the northern hemisphere slid into winter, the southern was climbing into spring, though it snowed the day after I landed. I’d never been away from home on my own for more than a week. Apart from a quick family trip across the border to Canada (before passports were required), I’d also never been out of the country. Yet (and this has never happened in any of the more than a dozen countries I’ve been to since), as soon as I stepped off of the airplane I felt at home and a sense of a peace strong enough that I stopped and took a mental note of it.
This evening I plan to take some time to reflect on the past ten years. I want to look back at why that trip happened, how it cascaded events after it, and what that means for my future years. It was such a life-defining trip: so much that has happened in the intervening years has been shaped by it. Maybe it’s because I’ve been back several times since, but it doesn’t seem like it’s been nearly a third of my life ago.
It’s important to take time away from the comings and goings of life, to step back and reflect upon one’s life itself. I want to evaluate where I’m at, in the context of where I’ve been – what I thought and told myself back then – and see what changes I should make for tomorrow.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
– J.R.R. Tolkien