Archive for the ‘growth’ Category

Because it’s there?

January 21, 2007

My father ran the Kepler track when I was a teenager.  It’s a 67 kilometre run. The first time he attempted it he had a cold, and the weather was bad. He had to pull out, and he got quinsey, a very painful large throat ulcer. He was in bed for several days. The next year he went back and ran it again. This time he completed it, in a faster time than he’d expected.

People often ask why one does these things. The cliche response, especially to why you’d climb a mountain, is “because it’s there”. To me, it’s not so much because it’s out there in the world, it’s because there’s a mountain inside you that you have to climb. It’s a question of faith, you believe you are capable of something you’ve never done before. The only way to test that belief is by doing it in the world, but the challenge is within you.

The purpose is not to get the photos from the top of Mt Kilamanjaro, or the certificate for completing the marathon. It’s not even to be able to say to other people that you’ve done it. It’s to know within yourself that you can.

Anything we take on that we’ve never done before, anything that scares us, anything we think we might fail at but we do anyway, this is what makes us grow. So climb your mountains, run your marathons, travel to those places you’re scared to but know you have to, and ignore the people who tell you it’s not safe. Just think, would you regret it more if you did, or if you didn’t?

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Builder dust and willow snow

November 3, 2006

The Resident Friend’s flat and accommodation at George Fox House in Wellington is undergoing renovation. I haven’t seen the changes yet, but Anna’s been describing the process to me:

“I have a new wall now but no door in it which means the dust just blows back in from the hole in the ceiling & floor”

Given how familiar the place has become for me it’ll be strange to have it changed. Renovations are such a violent process, walls are rent, plaster ripped, joists and beams hewn. Things that have been solid, immutable for many years all of a sudden have openings cut through them. What was certain, a fixed boundary, is now open to light and air. And all around is ‘builder dust’, and precious things must be covered in sheets to keep them from being covered in the detritus and building blood of change.
Sometimes changes in our minds, our lives, need to be like that. Wrenching, profound, what was fixed for years ripped open within a day or two, and new light let in. It can be uncomfortable, painful, but nevertheless the only way.

Yesterday I was running around the river. The air was thick with ‘willow snow’, the light fluffy balls that carry willow seeds floating on the air. The willow snow collected in drifts on the grass verges of the footpath. To the touch it was as one who’s never seen snow before might naively imagine it to feel, soft, warm and fluffy. The willow trees, so pliant and patient, that yield and break before the wild winds and yet are ever growing. To them change is slow, and steady, almost imperceptible. They grow gently, softly and beautifully.

And sometimes that is the way it is with us.

Totaranui (part 2)

October 25, 2006

I understand that in maori ‘nui’ means big or many. So Wainui is big water, arohanui means lots of love. So Totaranui might mean big totara, or many totara. I didn’t notice many totara in the surrounding bush when we were at JYF camp, although I wasn’t particularly looking.

In New Zealand sometimes important leaders are referred to as totara, especially when they die e.g. “a mighty totara has fallen today”.

Seeing the JYFs at the camp, the next generation of Quakers, seeing the way they worked together to resolve issues, their individual thoughts and ideas, the way they acted responsibly (most of the time), the way they looked after each other, was just amazing. Seeing the potential in these people, I am sure there will be many totara in our community in the future.

Kowhai

October 23, 2006

The kowhai have been in incredible bloom this year. Or maybe they’ve always bloomed like that, and it’s the first year I’ve noticed. Every tree had huge yellow bell shaped flowers in such abundance.

Why have I noticed it this year? Much of my work in the last 18 months has been with scientists in the environmental sector. As such I’ve, by osmosis, learned a lot more about our native flora. Very few plants native to NZ have coloured flowers, most just having small white flowers. Many people see NZ bush as being uninteresting, and all the same. Once you spend some time with it though, different textures, shapes and hues emerge out of what seemed an homogenous green. Many of the leaves are small and the branches variegated. All of this means that you look at the bush more closely to identify and appreciate what’s there. It forces you to become more focused, intent, and discerning. So when the kowhai blooms with its vivid swath of yellow, it’s all the more impressive. It’s such a contrast that it leaps out and grabs you, at least it does for me.

So maybe its OK to be focused on what you’re doing. It can make beauty that much more intense when it appears. Just make sure you do look up and see the flowers from time to time.