Saturday, September 3, 2011

Epilogue: What we left behind

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, 
but in seeing with new eyes. - Marcel Proust

We arrived in New Zealand a whirlwind of a rather typical suburban American family, having spent the previous many years at multiple nightly practices and games instead of winding down and eating dinner. Countless other obligations, lessons, and activities kept us running from morning till night. Lists, needs, pushed for time, never stopping for a breath. 

Into Auckland we stumbled, jet-lagged, disoriented, and incredulous at our new situation. No choice really but to let the New Zealand rain, wind, and sun wash over us and lull us into a peaceful, satisfied state. Minds and bodies chilled and we no longer felt the need to keep pace with crazy and with frazzled. 

Very quickly, in this new environment of reset and start from scratch, it became clear that our life in America had become so very small. We'd been living a life that wasn't meant for us, one that had never felt right anyway. It had been devised by and copied from countless other parents seeking a way to be sure that they wouldn't fail their children. The rich, joyful experiences that we'd once sought had been pushed aside in favor of a thoughtless, too-busy lifestyle that left no room for the doubt and other scary things that might creep into our minds if we allowed ourselves time to think. 

Here, in this strange new land, with fewer choices available to us, we were freer. We piled into the car with no destination in mind. We walked for miles and embraced whatever we found wherever we ended up, with no frenzied constraints on our explorations. We enjoyed being together and discovering together and we knew very early on that we'd make some major changes upon our return to the states. 

And despite the gorgeous, secret scenery that we gazed at, the whales who swam beside us, the delicious new foods that we fell in love with, and the freedom of being strangers in a strange land for six months, this is what I am most grateful for. We had the privilege of seeing our life from the outside, from far away. We were granted a chance to make changes before it was too late. 

These kids are getting older by the second; only five years are left before the oldest one leaves us forever. While he might make the high school baseball team if we spend our entire lives shuttling him around from nearly year-round training to practices to far-flung games, we'd have to sacrifice this fleeting time together in which we now can enjoy a relaxing dinner at a new restaurant, go out for the day on the boat, visit friends and family for a weekend, or take the kayaks to a lake if we feel like it. Because we have the time to do so. The time to just be, together, has returned. And our downtime is really down. Not just buzzing time slots between activities. It's rejuvenating, relaxed, and fun.

More than any of the other wondrous experiences that we shared in New Zealand -- and there were truly more than anyone even deserves -- I will be forever grateful that we saw how life could be before it was too late. I feel like we were saved from many future regrets, and there is no greater gift that I can imagine.

Thank you for keeping up with our Kiwi adventures with us. It was fun the first time and fun again to relive it all through this blog. I'll start up a new one very soon with various interesting things, travels, the guys that are renovating our house, happenings at The Ginn Academy, portraits I shoot, and on and on and on. Now that I've started, I'm not sure I can stop. Thanks for being here with me! Much love, Cheers, K.

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