How do I begin to articulate what is going through my mind as I quickly approach the completion of my New Zealand journey? The idea for this adventure was born when I was thirteen and even though it took ten years, the dream eventually transformed into a reality. So how do I describe such a big part of my life? I have spent days, no, weeks, trying to find the words to convey how incredible these last six months have been. I awoke today, on my penultimate morning in this wonderful country, determined to sit down and squash my writer’s block in one fell swoop. I found a beautiful spot outside in the shade, with the turquoise vibrancy of the Pacific in the distance as my muse, the singing birds as my musical backdrop. And nothing came…no powerful words to bookend my experience, no sudden inspiration of discovering how I wanted to sum it all up. After a solid half an hour of staring a blank document sandwiched between Facebook checks and ESPN updates, a word popped into my head. Finally, some creativity! Let’s get this writing train moving! Yet the word wasn’t some powerful articulation but rather the mother of all random ones, residing in that space between incredulity and insanity. Are you ready? Here it is: “Legos”.
Uh, excuse me? What? Hang on, don’t stop reading yet. I can explain. Think of the biggest Lego set you’ve ever seen, with thousands upon thousands of different pieces, all varying in size, shape and color. With all the blocks sprawled out on the floor, you run your hand through the massive pile and it makes that sound…you know which one. It’s the sound of creativity, endless opportunity residing behind the sonic rustling of hard plastic. It’s time to start building; here we go! However, there is just a slight problem. Where are the directions? Where are those handy, overly simplified, step-by-step guides to putting the pieces in the perfect order until the set has transformed into a triumphant piece of creative ingenuity that borders on art? The rousing torrent of Lego-related excitement quickly transforms into confusion and disappointment. How can you begin to build the design without guidance? Is it possible to complete the process without a sense of direction?
As I have spent the last few days in reflection, looking back on this six month completion of a childhood dream, I have attempted to put a definition on what I came to New Zealand to do, why I have lived out a backpack since last fall. I realized that there was a part of me that subconsciously came to the bottom of the world in attempt to “figure it out.” When I left Los Angeles on September 22nd, this was the plan: I would travel across New Zealand, delve inward, discover how to be the highest version of myself, find omnipresent happiness and the rest would be history. I would take my life and build the most incredible Lego set with its pieces. New Zealand was always going to be my packet of directions that showed me what to do, taught me what the next step of my life was going to be. By being here and going on my journey, I would figure it out, whatever “it” was. My New Zealand adventure was the key.
It took me a few months to realize that a change of scenery, no matter how beautiful the landscape is, no matter how far away from home it might be, does not magically bring instant clarity and prolonged happiness. I kept wondering why I hadn’t popped yet, why being in New Zealand didn’t automatically make me joyful every minute of the day and why I felt like I was still searching for something. I’m living my dream, but why don’t I feel like I am? The days started to become more “fear-centric” and I would find things to worry about, start freaking out about how much money I had left and what I was supposed to do with the rest of my time in the country. But along the way, something happened, something changed. I couldn’t tell you when it transpired or where; there was no light bulb that switched on, no “eureka!” moment where everything clicked. However, I started to have consecutive days where I felt like “me”, at least that essence of satisfaction and wholeness that lives inside all of us. Those glorious days where I felt alive, empowered and ready to take on the world were happening more often than the darker ones. The days when I felt the happiest all shared a common denominator: I stopped trying to figure “it” out.
Is it really that simple? Yes and no. On my travels, I have learned that those difficult days are part of it all; one day up, one day down, sometimes two days up and four days down. This is balance and how life will always be. But we deserve to have the bright days happen more than the dark ones, am I right? We owe it to ourselves. What if the power, the key, the MacGuffin lies behind a five letter word that isn’t “Legos”? That word is “Trust”.
Trust is the answer, the solution, the victory. It’s the acceptance that life is a wandering river that flows down from the mountain, through twists, turns, rushing highs and violent lows, but ultimately moving across immeasurable beauty. Trust is letting it all go; it’s diving headfirst underneath the roaring wave of fear and believing that you will rise up and breathe fresh air on the other side. To trust is to surrender to whatever is supposed to happen and recognizing that it is happening for the highest good, no matter how paralyzing the fear of the unknown can be. It’s learning to embrace the uncertainty and accept “it” for what it is. I face a lot of ambiguity when I go back home, in regards to what the next step is in life. In many ways, I am in the same position now as when I left Los Angeles for New Zealand: where do I go from here? Where will I live, what will I do? Where is my packet of directions? What is the next piece to place on top of the other? But I feel more prepared now.
If there is one thing I can take away from the last six months of adventure, it’s the recognition of how powerful it can be to embrace the uncertainty and actively allowing the fear to dissipate and eventually transform into trust. I believe that through trust, we can find liberation. And what can be better than absolute and pure inner freedom? It’s what each and everyone of us deserves.
We are constantly experiencing new beginnings adding a new layer to our spirit, our being that uses the previous layer as a foundation. Life is a never-ending, always-exciting Lego set. But without those convenient, simplified directions, we provide ourselves with the perfect platform to grow. In many ways, I’ll always be on this journey; it is an adventure that will continue for a long time. I may not always be traveling, but I sure will be growing in some capacity and that is what this New Zealand experience has ultimately been about. Growth, transformation, learning, whatever you want to call it. One block placed on top of another. The past 187 days have helped me discover the importance of placing faith in the building process. It may not always be the most effortless thing to do, but why not make the construction of the magnificent Lego set that is our life a little easier on ourselves and trust. There is so much to look forward to, so much beauty to be found in just simply being along for the ride. With this concept as my guiding light, I’m ready to begin again. Are you?
(Copyright 2013 ~ Jason Natzke)