Maybe it’s the change of season, or the lingering effect of this past Mercury retrograde, (I am a Virgo, after all), but New Zealand has been popping up in random places lately. A bit of background: I’m a native of New Orleans, and it’s also where I currently live, and I’ve never traveled to New Zealand. So I don’t have any logical reason to be entertaining thoughts of those two islands so far from Louisiana.
But I have plenty of illogical reasons. Maybe, if you subscribe to Jung’s ideas, they’re reasons bubbling up from the collective unconscious (which sounds fancier than illogical reasons, at least).
So here they are, in no particular order:
I had a very vivid dream recently. The kind with images so salient they stay with you long past waking. In the dream, I was on a business trip to New Zealand (a few colleagues at my current job are based there). Getting out of a car, about to visit a customer, I looked up at the sky, and I saw a full rainbow (the whole circle) and the outline of the continents in they sky. It was wondrous. I remember thinking in the dream, Of course, we’re underneath the earth, so it would make sense that I see the continents when I look up. When I think back to the dream, it still makes sense in my head, even though it doesn’t in reality.
I saw the movie Everest a few weeks ago. I’m pretty sure I had the dream after I saw the movie. Rob Hall, the mountain climber featured in the film, was from New Zealand. The opening scene shows his team getting ready to depart for Nepal from Christchurch. (I read The Climb more than a decade ago, so all the characters in the story were familiar to me).
For several months now, I’ve been practicing daily meditations with the help of FragrantHeart.com. The lovely woman who gives her time and energy to the free audio meditations, Elisabeth Blaikie, is from New Zealand. I can hear certain phrases in my head now, spoken in her Kiwi accent.
Last week, I read how my alma mater, the University of Arizona, will no longer allow their football players to perform a pregame haka, in response to negative reaction from New Zealanders. I didn’t know what a haka was, but the internet tells me it’s a traditional Māori dance, made famous as a pregame ritual by the All Blacks rugby team.
And finally, after my last post, I sniffed around WordPress to check out who else was blogging about Jane Austen. Lo and behold, I found this post from Christchurch City Libraries Blog: Twenty years of Darcy’s wet shirt (there’s an attempt to ping back to that post).
So that’s the recent stuff. But it got me thinking about my comprehension of New Zealand – what’s my cognitive baseline? As mentioned, I’ve never been, so I can’t speak to specific memories. But I can offer three things, in chronological order:
A geology teaching assistant at the University of Arizona. My senior year, I took a geology course to satisfy the science requirement for my degree. The T.A., Frank, had such an infectious enthusiasm for the subject, I considered changing majors from media/marketing. It didn’t hurt that I’ve always dug the physical sciences. But I was only about 12 credits shy of my degree, and ready to be done with school. Here’s the crazy thing – Frank was not from New Zealand, so that’s not the connection. But he had done field study there, and spoke glowingly of the fiords. That was the major temptation – if I changed my major and studied geology, maybe I could go spend six weeks in New Zealand for “work,” too.
The Lord of the Rings. Yes, I can quote all three movies verbatim, and they are probably responsible for the whole of my visual impression of New Zealand. The lighting of the beacons of Gondor from The Return of the King is one of my favorite scenes in all moviedom. And I like to think that the river by which the fellowship departed Lothlórien fed into one of Frank’s fabulous fiords.
Sydney, Australia. I realize it’s a completely different country, and Sydney is about as far from Auckland as Denver is from New Orleans. But I’ve actually been to Sydney. I traveled there for work back in 2002, when I was living in Los Angeles. It’s the only time I’ve been to the Southern Hemisphere. I remember a persistent feeling I experienced there. It’s what I can best describe as an inverse. Sydney was similar, climate-wise, to Los Angeles, but it felt like an inversion of my reality there. No implication of one being good and the other bad – just different. Two sides of the same coin.
The memory of that feeling probably has something to do with my dream of the continents in the sky.
I’m not one to get obsessed with an idea. . .wait. Let me rephrase that. I’ve tried, as an adult, to channel my obsessions into more useful enterprises. I could read all these New Zealand markers as a sign – that I either need to take a vacation there, or research something there. And I’m not at all opposed to either idea. But my current budget only allows for vacations and travel to places a little closer to New Orleans, and I’m too pragmatic to over-allocate resources on a whim. So, instead, all this New Zealand stuff felt like an interesting blog post.
I read something recently, about intelligence and creativity being a function of the number of connections (or synapses?) in your brain. Maybe as I endeavor to be smarter and more creative, I’m just paying closer attention to things that pop across my newsfeed/searches/imagination. And this week, New Zealand got the spotlight. I reckon that’s all good.