I grew up as an only child, but I’ve never found much beauty in solitude.
… until now. And I love it.
When people think of solitude, they usually determine that one is isolative, lonely, and unhappy. I’m a fairly extroverted person, but in coming to New Zealand, I’ve become great at wandering off on my own and taking time for myself. I haven’t done a complete 180 from my persona (I still have to talk on a daily basis, come on), but I’ve grown accustomed to this quiet lifestyle. I now prefer exploring on my own, far away from civilization, and usually without company.
It’s so different, yet so freeing, to be on your agenda – and your agenda only.
The past few days, I’ve explored the most remote parts of popular areas: Wellington Botanic Gardens, Zealandia (again), and Wairarapa (Masterton). In other words, I’ve gone far and high above the trails where others tend to socialize. Instead, I sought the narrower, steeper paths that inevitably yielded a unique type of beauty not necessarily found in the well-tread paths.
“There’s a real purity in New Zealand that doesn’t exist in the states. It’s actually not an easy thing to find in our world anymore. It’s a unique place because it is so far away from the rest of the world. There is a sense of isolation and also being protected.”
– Elijah Wood
It took me over four months to realize why being so far away from things is actually the most uplifting feeling in the world.
And for that reason alone, I’ve felt my heart pounding rapidly, my eyes sometimes welling up with tears of awe as I stumble upon more and more gorgeous lookout points that showcase the sheer beauty of the countryside.
I don’t want to leave.
Well, let me clarify: I don’t want to leave, but by the end of the year, I know I’ll be ready for something else. Put more simply, New Zealand has become ingrained in my heart.
Perhaps the scariest realization is that I’m at peace with quality “me” time.
I guess this shouldn’t come as a shock, since I reached the point of frustration with everything in California (unfortunately) before I moved. My calendar was constantly filled, even after work… I never had time to myself, and I was half okay/half too busy to even notice that. The whole point of a working holiday visa is to treat it as its name: a holiday. New Zealand, quite possibly the most “easy come, easy go” country in the world, seemed perfect for that.
Let’s keep that in mind and rewind to October 28: I made it so difficult for myself to relax. I don’t think I knew what to do with so much newfound solitude. I was consumed with fear over stupid things- money, doing the right thing, taking the right bus, making friends. Man, I was a wreck. And by golly, I learned a lot from it – far more than I could have ever learned if I had just “eased” into things alongside my expectations.
It’s so important to just take a deep breath and have some time to yourself, free of all distractions. Forget social media. Forget those Meetups you joined. Forget the internet. Stop living through your phone. Just for a couple hours, a day, a week – how ever long you need. Just make time for YOU, regardless of where you are in your life.
I spent the last few days mindlessly being one with nature in the highest of hills and greenest of forests. I even listened to the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit soundtracks at one point while sitting on the hill below in the Botanic Gardens… and it hit me just how much I love that I came here alone.
It was in this moment that I understood why this quiet solitude is what I need most right now:
I also took a train to the Wairarapa area (more specifically, Masterton). The views of farmland and mountainsides were great, but I felt my heart drop a little in the last four stops when I noticed how deserted each town was. It was just the train track, one or two homes, and absolutely NO other sign of life other than that.
But then I wandered around a neighborhood in Masterton and found the best place nestled toward the back of a roundabout: Queen Elizabeth Park.
From the beautiful entrance gates, gardens, well-maintained shrubbery, varied types of trees and ferns, to even a peacock, peahen and some chicks in an enclosed area, it all brought a smile to my solitude-happy face.
A little more wandering and I came across Colin Pugh Sports Bowl, Deer Park, The Hosking Garden, Pioneer Cemetery and THIS:
Perhaps this stream was the culmination of all the beautiful things I’ve seen in New Zealand thus far in my own company. It was so freeing to sit beside it and lunch on the rocks. Talk about bliss. I ended up spending most of my leisure time in Masterton sitting by this, taking in all the sounds and solitude (because I was literally the only person alongside it).
There is such an ethereal beauty in solitude that can’t be explained through words. I think I’ve finally found (and accepted) the solitude that I was hoping for in this move. And that’s a blessing in itself.