My great-grandmother was born in New Zealand. Her father, Thomas, arrived there in the late 1800s after fleeing his home country of Ireland. I wish I knew more about how he met his wife and why he chose New Zealand. Had he read about it in a book? Did he know of job opportunities out there? From the little I know, he was from a family of ten, in Ireland, in the 1800s. As you may have guessed, resources were not a-plenty, so he packed his trunk and set sail for New Zealand.
I think he had a brother, or maybe a cousin that was already there… But that then begs the question of why did they head there? I’ll have to dig deeper into the little notes and photos hidden in family scrapbooks.
Did he think he would one day return home? Did he have a plan in mind? Or did he just have good hope and a determined heart?
I feel like those are questions I ask myself all the time — what direction am I headed? Is this the right path?
Sometimes I haven’t the slightest clue, but I feel as though I am being led a certain direction… And then sometimes not at all. There will be days on end when it feels like all my creativity is at a loss, that it’s not going anywhere; I’m at a standstill.
It aches. The most frustrating feeling is the one where you know you have good ideas somewhere in there, you just haven’t figured them out — haven’t distilled them from the chaos of your mind — to realize just what they are.
More often than not, that period of weakness, depression, and frustration will lead to growth. It won’t occur to us during the time that we are in the process of change, of overcoming a hurdle, of stumbling onto something new… A new idea or part of ourselves is forming, developing its branches and germinating. And that takes some damn effort! You’ve never seen a seed sprout into a full-fledged plant overnight, have you?
It’s this time of anger, hostility, and dreariness that is getting us geared up for the next segment; inspiration is merely hibernating. But just you wait, you’ll get through it, and something golden will be revealed.
I like to think that with any long journey, whether it involves one leaving their home and venturing to a new place, like my great-great-grandfather, or those on an exploration of self-discovery and identity, that even when you don’t know what’s on the other side and things seem bleak, that if you hold on hope and follow the slightest energy to where you feel you’re being pulled — something good + golden will come out of it.
That’s what Thomas did. He forged new opportunities, sunk his roots deep (quite literally), as he brought new seeds and lush crops to start a farm in New Zealand. After several years there, he became the mayor of Ashburton, New Zealand and he and his wife had my great-grandmother, Josie.
Anyway, that all felt relevant as we’ve been exploring the land so deeply connected to my family for the last five days. And I’ll tell ya this: I understand why he picked New Zealand.
We visited a sheep farm and got to watch as the owner demonstrated how he trains his dogs to shepherd the sheep, up and down the hill. He took us into the barn to show us how they quickly sheer the sheep (necessary, as they have over 1,500+). Unfortunately the wool sales have started to dwindle as clothing manufacturers and using more synthetic materials. Thus, many of the New Zealand sheep farms are having to convert to dairy farms.
That last shot is from Milford Sound, which Rudyard Kipling once called the “eighth wonder of the world.”
Have you been to New Zealand before? Or are you planning an upcoming adventure? I’d love to hear what you have your sights set on!