After a few productive hours yesterday I have now a whopping 10 offers to couch surf in and around Auckland. Couch surfing, for those of you that don’t know, is a global community of about a million now I believe which allows total strangers to meet and stay together whilst travelling. To visit and stay with someone is called ‘surfing’ and to have someone stay with you is called ‘hosting’. And to meet for drinks or coffee is called ‘having coffee’ originally enough. People post their profiles on the site and these are validated by references of others in the community who have met you or stayed with you. You can meet people at gatherings too (Auckland has a CS gathering once a month that about 50 or so people attend). The actual community is non-profit, run mostly by the efforts of volunteers and all the surfing and hosting is done for free on a circulating kindness basis. They even have a blossoming CS university where you exchange your knowledge with those you stay with. At first I found it all rather worrying (being a lone female traveller) but it is actually proving to be an eye opening and liberating experience. It does go without saying however you trust your instincts and don’t do anything stupid. Tonight I am staying with Ruth, a lady of Maori descent in One Tree Hill.
Lindy picked me up and took me to her best friends’ farm. They grow lettuces in south Auckland and have built on their land what they refer to as their ‘folly’. It sits on top of a small tree-lined cliff, looking down over a wide jade creek. It’s here we are meeting for tea and cake and shooting. The whole ambience from the bowl of fejoias on the table that are the size of your hands to the reclaimed wood of the hut is of rustic, healthy charm.
I have never even so much held a gun, but was eager to give it a go. We threw sticks into the creek for me to aim at whilst the men discussed how to get the ducks and pukehos. I was surprised by how little I resisted the concept of shooting wildlife (though I didn’t want to shoot any myself, nor watch) and how much I liked the shotgun. There was something satisfying about mastering something that powerful. And it was a rather fantastic way of getting rid of tension. In a controlled manner of course, I hasten to add. Lining exes up the bank for target practice wouldn't be sporting.
Gun safety was paramount and this included not going into the field where the Chinese woman was planting the lettuces because I can imagine the planting rows wouldn’t be that straight if she were forever running for cover. Doug pointed to the trays that were stacked up waiting to be planted and told us how many plants were in those trays. I did some mental calculations and realised that this solitary woman had planted nearly a quarter of a million lettuces in less than the time I had been in NZ. The part of me that doesn’t know what I am doing with my life was bothered by this. Not because I want to plant lettuces, or get the requisite amount of soil up my nails, but because she’s doing something whilst I am doing....shit, actually what am I doing? What am I doing here and for that matter in my life in general? There was something about that industrious little Chinese woman that has made me realise my life no longer knows which way is up.
Lindy however has a lot to say about this. She has an enlightened calm air and every other sentence seems to be a simple piece of daily wisdom peppered with the type of love and care that allows me to breathe. She has uncommon common sense that doesn’t feel like it is lifted from the pages of a everything-will-be-alright-if-you-do/be/have X,Y and Z self help book, but is taken from real life experience. She feels like she has journeyed to the centre of herself and back again and liked what she found. And it’s that real spirit that I need right now.
I tell her I feel like I am drifting. I tell her that I feel like I am in withdrawal, not just from the Man, but from the relentless need to plan and live for the goal, tomorrow and the fact that life will be better, I will be better, if I change this and that and in fact do anything, except accept now. I am in withdrawal from my London life in short. She tells me drifting by nature has momentum which has by nature discovery. By being ‘purposeless’ in the London sense of the word I actually become ‘purposeful’ in the truer sense of the word.
I fall asleep on her sofa, again impressed by my ability to do so.
Perhaps it’s all about permission to let go.