Returning, releasing, remembering

It is not until we return that we truly remember.

And this has been the single more important life lesson I’ve had in a very, very long time.

In the true essence of all that continues to be our family Sunflower Journey a return visit to New Zealand has been absolutely that.

We had a life in New Zealand for 5 or so years, leaving 4 1/2 years ago and taking the long route home via our 6 months volunteer work in Cambodia and a year in Malaysia.

I am clearly guilty of at times “rushing” through life, seeking the new, the challenging, that good old comfort zone stretch, but I understand now that it is important to also take the time to return.  To return to places, to situations, to people and allow deep memories to remind themselves to us.

This past few months has brought with it a turbulent house move but finally to our own home, a new home I am determined not to leave for a very long time, in a city I continue to love and take pleasure in.

I have absolutely no idea how it must be to have spent a long time in one place, I envy that in so many ways, though I think only by moving do you really get to juggle the memories of your life about.  Sifting through each and every one of your belongings to decide which and what has a place and space to come along with you. These decisions are more often than not practical, but some are also emotional – where memories are attached to the simplest of physical things. I have found it particularly hard to pack my photos this time, realising that a rush through life is not helpful, and much more time needs to come from relishing the simple moments that perhaps don’t seemingly have purpose other than just a pause.

My life feels on constant fast forward, ever more so in this digital era which is exactly the impetus for tracking our Sunflower Journey that day we left New Zealand, for fear of a life travelling too fast and not remembering.  A wise lady taught me only very recently that life would feel far less rushed if we just looked at how far we’ve come, what we’ve achieved each day rather than a never-ending task list of what’s up next.  That insight alone has (I think) altered my pace, to look at the hill we’ve climbed not how steep it looks ahead.

Our visit back to New Zealand has truly made me understand the incredible power of the human brain. Every single experience and memory, our legacy data, is tucked so neatly away from our every day, and yet these are what defines who we are and how we blossom, learn, evolve.  It is not until we enable a return to something, that we actually remember.

I truly had no idea how much it would be possible to actually remember.  I quickly learnt that just trusting the subconscious would take me where I needed to go – to know the roads, routes and walkways.  Every corner unleashed torrents of memories I didn’t remember I had, at times  almost overwhelmingly so. Time to pause and reflect.

So we did. We have.

We’ve paused and reflected on all the simple things, the major things, the friends, the places, the tiny details and things that made our experience of New Zealand one that will always have a special place in our hearts.  Of course our time here wasn’t all easy, far from it at times that were lonely and challenging, but this is what returning has allowed us to do – to put those not-such-great memories in a good place and understand it was all part of shaping the whole, and our subsequent path.

We are so lucky to have been met with open arms by so many in New Zealand, and we love you all for your kindness and friendship. As strange as it sounds, this is what I’ve found so enriching but also emotionally exhausting to almost relive so many past moments in time. To watch the boys go through the same parallel journey has given me the greatest of pleasures. Squeals of delight as just turning a street corner could release a memory they had now idea they were carrying. We’ve seen friends, family, schools and homes (a few!), their favourite parks, pies (!) and places. This has enriched who they are today, to remember where they’ve been before.

We knew from the outset that our time in New Zealand would indeed be temporary, but I feel comfort in knowing we absolutely made the most of our years living here and that it will forever be a huge part of who we all are.