Sunday, August 31, 2008

Spring, Truth and Allegory

My weekends haven't gone well lately; even ones with promise have taken unexpected dives. This weekend bucked that trend and is hopefully a start of something new.

I had planned to go on a road trip by myself. Before the morning of departure all I had in mind was to go to Rotorua for a hot spring and then onto Taupo to stay over at a friend's. Going down, I sighted a familiar mountain, one that I had wanted to climb but had been prevented by weather. It seduced me (I just love mountains looming over highways). So the hot springs had to take a backseat as made a sharp turn and zoomed off to the cute town of Te Aroha, and its distinctive toponymically named mountain.

I rocketed up with my usual gusto, but two-thirds of the way up I was hit by either my lack of fitness or the difficulty of the ascent. I struggled a little and eventually summitted (a quick time of 1 hour 40 minutes). The view was outstanding. Standing on the Kaimai-Mamaku ranges means you can see the whole Bay of Plenty, the East Coast and the Hauraki Plains (and if weather had been better, the central plateau mountains). I saw the most ragged possum ever, which stared at me then ran. I felt compelled to complete the loop that the summit track was but a section. I couldn't find the sign for it; perhaps it was down a metal road. I descended the road for about 10 minutes but there was still no sign. This is a fairly common walkers experience: Do I continue with the route or cut my loses to avoid complete disaster? I chose the latter, but coming out of it, retracing my steps back to the summit was horrible but then it was a simple route to the base and freedom. I saw the same ragged possum, which stared at me and ran. So back down the summit track I went. Later I heard that if I had persisted down the metal road I'd have gotten to the trackhead soon.

I thought on the way down that all of the above could be an allegory for life. But the themes will always enmesh our lives to be learnt from if we desire. Or not, perhaps to our detriment.

Now boy-racers enjoy their needs for speed and danger by hurtling themselves in metal missiles down suburban streets. The tramper version of this is superior. Running down mountain tracks is the most exhilarating experience you can have tramping. Your eyes are fixed on the path searching for the safe places for your feet. You swing on branches. You jump over obstacles and duck low hanging branches. Of course there is always a risk you'll miscalculate and it could be your end or at least a chance of serious injury - but at least it isn't like the thick-skulled boy-racers who often imperil the lives of others.

I emerged at the bottom and the dashed over to my car. Unfortunately the adrenalin was still in my veins and on the way to Taupo was usually over the speed limit. Bad Daniel. Arriving, I discussed my topic of the year: Relationships and love. Later we played board games - it has been quite some time since I had.

The next day I did some things for the first time: abseiling and rockclimbing. The former I'm yet to really accept and the latter I'm getting the hang of - mainly that my mind has trouble accepting that it has to give confidence in the physical attributes of things out of faith: The foothold will hold. My leg can go to the groove. The shoes won't slip.
One thing I had faith in that didn't live up to expectation was the crotch of my pants, which must have given up during some of the climbs I did. I only climbed up the steep face three times but I am satisfied. I might try the rocknasium sometime.

Heading back, I trusted the directions given to me by one of my rock-climbing companions. "Take the left at the next T-junction, then right at the next one. Then there will be a sharp left and then a sharp right and then you'll be in Kihikihi" To a townie like me, that sounds like a piece of cake. Like where to walk to find a shop. But of the four directions given, getting to the first junction took an hour, the second another 40 minutes, the third 30 minutes and then the fourth 1 minute. It is strange how the briefness of the directions didn't represent the distance I'd be covering. But I trusted them and I was delivered to Kihikihi, a perfect example of how a suburban town should look.

I returned home to Auckland. The joy of my new location means I can shoot up the motorway and then from off-ramp to carpark takes only a minute. This is going to suck of course when I need to get back in rush-hour, but that is for another day.

"It's warmer now." I hope this weekend is a nice marker for the beginning of Spring, even if I do generally wait for the Equinox to celestially indicate its arrival. May this winter be buried post-haste.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New surroundings

Well, on the good side I've landed in what seems to be a pretty good pad where I'll stay for at least the next six months. The good:
  • Good location: 150 Symonds St (Unit 4), with all the conveniences of the city, an easy walk to the Domain and Newmarket Pool, Rialto, oh yeah and two clients.
  • Cool flatmate and landlady: Both are chatty and positive, no psychobatch for sure. And I need to have chatty people.
  • Spacy bedroom: I have the most space I've ever had in a bedroom, a huge bed (and very supportive mattress). It is dry: The rooms I have lived in for the last 8 years have had major dampness problems, which probably hasn't helped my health or the quality of my books and papers. I have afternoon sunlight coming into my room. And I have my own bathroom. The landlady provided all the furnishings; I have bookshelves galore (I was going to be choosy with my books but there is no necessity to be so now).
  • Almost everything I need is here: Except for some bedding and some bathroom stuff which would be beyond what you'd expect anyway! Broadband is nice (Listening to Radiohead now).
  • It has stairs (until I next sprain my ankle, this will be fun).
  • It has a wonderful lounge and cute kitchen. Good for entertainment purposes.

The not ideal:

  • The room is facing the road. The first night wasn't bad though and it is one of those things that you just get used to. They have soundproofing.
  • The price was actually higher than my price range but the above considerations and timing were far more important to me.

So, if anyone has time in the evening, give me a text and come on over.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Intensive care

'Moving on' so far has seemed something far from linear, but rather something akin to Snakes and Ladders. A misstep sends you back several lines, or potentially back to the beginning; I can say this from a place not far from square one. Snakes and Ladders is not a game of strategy, but one of luck. I'm not sure if moving on is the same - I hope not; I've tried some strategies but have been left here. I've just undertaken the most extreme strategy I can contemplate: complete isolation from the source. A ladder would be falling for someone else. That might be where the luck comes in.

I can feel great. I can believe I'm better. But it only takes three words to bring me to the brink of tears, and a poorly chosen fourth to take me down all together.