I spent the weekend in the Coromandel Peninsula, a slither of land jutting from a larger bit of land we call the “North Island”. The Coromandel is one beach after another, increasingly filling with holiday homes that remain empty throughout the year while their respective owners are adding to their piles of cash in Auckland city. I live in Auckland city and the Coromandel is only a couple of hours away.
I stayed in a small Bach on a flat piece of land that backed into an estuary at one end of Whangamata’s surf beach. The waves from the beach reach around the sand – just enough to fill the estuary, creating a clear lake-like swimming hole at high tide.
This is all very paradise-like; visiting this place reminds me that I am a spoilt New Zealander. I have access to nature in all it’s glory and yet, like many Kiwi’s in their 20’s, I want to leave New Zealand.
Approaching New Zealand as a tourist
When I first flew out in 2012 New Zealand’s beauty was just a fact, based on comparisons with other countries that I had seen on the news. I felt a need to see other countries for myself before I could return, kiss the pavement, hug a stranger and wholeheartedly appreciate the country I grew up in. I lived in the United Kingdom, started this blog, built something on a couple of continents and returned! …Feeling the same about Aotearoa.
My discontent comes from the struggle to see New Zealand without the haze of social conditioning, the structure I have formed in my mind in order to understand my environment. When you are overseas you are less aware of the society you are in, you cannot take it in as a whole, you take it one day at a time in much the same way a child would. People at home approve your departure from their society because the courage needed to do so is admirable. Each moment is more appreciated, more intensely felt and therefore more enriching.
What is that approach exactly?
Being a tourist is like being a child again, stripping away the preconceived idea of your surroundings. The challenge is finding the perspective that a traveler naturally arrives with, a challenge well worth taking on. No matter what country you are in as you read this, that country is fascinating to someone. Someone wants to visit your country more than any other in the world.
It is only possible for me to have contempt for a country like New Zealand because I am aware of NZ society
The easiest way that I see myself fitting into my society is not a way in which I would like to live. As a builder you either climb a management ladder or start a construction business. Being successful in either of these two things will earn me a comfortable spot in society. But it is the world that interests me, the way we all relate with one another. This is how my blog came about; using what skills I have to see the world.
I often wake up feeling as though I am in a society that is skeptical about the very thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. However, in my more levelheaded moments I realize my discontent comes from the assumption that the society I am in gives a singular fuck about what I am doing with my life.
This false ‘societal pull’ is what makes it difficult to hold onto a goal
I use my building skills to see the world. That is the general idea of this goal. Building on every continent before I turn 30 is a good idea I’m told, however, “Is it not an unnecessary distraction”?
I am then advised to build a business, buy a house, create 2.5 children and then have a vacation each year, preferably in lavish comfort – see the world that way.
If you study for 7 years and become a doctor, you will be fine wherever you are living. You’re respected as a person who functions in a proven role. But if you are a ballet dancer who hasn’t had a break yet, society will compel you to “Get a real job”. Until I prove that my way is a viable way to contribute to society the inadequacy is there, lingering in the background. Once your position in society is proven, you don’t want to go anywhere else, you have a society that accepts you and all of sudden the only travel you want to do is a holiday short enough to keep that societal position safely on hold. Every great artist must discard societal pressure, before they create anything worthwhile. I’m trying!
For me, my goal is one worth pursuing for its own sake, and a joy at the same time. Pursuing this goal while living in a society that I perceive through a haze of social conditioning is the hard part.