Printed from WriteWords -

Pursuits of Happiness

by  Haadi

Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2007
Word Count: 378
Summary: I wrote this for my friend's blog. He wanted perspectives on travel and the search for self. Subsequently I have returned to New Zealand and am making it my home. The temporal happiness of 'then' is bigger and richer than the day-to-day of now, but I had to come back and see. It reinforces the knowledge that "travel" is not real life. Still, New Zealand ain't bad.

I didn't leave London knowingly in pursuit of happiness; I was chugging along quite nicely thank you, with the aid of cigarettes, coffee and alcohol. (When you've got stimulants, who needs happiness huh?!) However, I did leave the UK in the hope of finding some peace of sorts, which I suppose is one component of that ethereal smiling cloud we all long for. I wanted mountains, water, steppes - just about any un-peopled and open spaces would do.

And I certainly didn't come to Paihia in pursuit of happiness. I only came to this little town to get the hell out of Auckland. The Bay of Islands just happened to be the first stop on my bus route that seemed to offer the 'nothingness' I required.

So I came here for three days: time enough to make it to New Zealand's most northerly point - Cape Reinga - at the end of a 64-mile strip of sand. That was over two weeks ago. By now I should be in Wellington, continuing the infernal chase.

But I'm not. I'm here, sitting on the aft deck of a houseboat, moored about 100m off Paihia beach, stuffed in a sleeping bag, writing by candlelight and drinking a beer. I am quite content not to be pursuing anything, for a time at least. From here I can watch the stars and the sun swap roles, listen to the birds squabble and feel the rolling motion of the water. These are the constant rhythms of the world, far more reliable than any abstract idea of happiness.

I wouldn't be the first to have succumbed to the spell of the Bay's rhythms. Most people I meet have overstayed; they came for two days, two weeks. Then, two years on they're wondering what happened. May be time slows down here - after all the days are governed by the sun and the ocean, not the clock from 9 to 5. Perhaps the minutes swell and stretch just enough for you to forget that you should be chasing your tail to fulfill a dream you can't quite put your finger on. If that's the pursuit, I think I'll just take the spot of happiness that's nestled here on my aft deck.

For a time at least.