We arrived in New Zealand to find that autumn had arrived in our gardens early.
The Japanese Maple and the Persimmon trees have already turned bright red, and with every gust of wind, they shed their leaves generously.
The plum trees are almost bare of leaves.
The Magnolia and the Camellias are heavily loaded with flowering buds that will probably flower in a month or so.
The rest of the garden is lush and green and our water tanks are full of water.
On rainy days, I feel restless.
Here is a synopsis of a conversation that went on for days between my logical mind and my wandering gypsy mind:
“I do not know why… But I feel restless….
When the sun is shining and everything dries up, this place looks like a heavenly retreat.
When it is wet and damp for days on end, I find that I start dreaming about going away… Maybe to visit some bustling big Asian city…..oh the food… the art… the people….or… Maybe we can hike some remote mountain….or maybe lie on a forgotten sandy beach somewhere…..”
My logical mind counters:
“What are you talking about? Those are mere fantasies!
You have just arrived here in your lovely hillside retreat in NZ.
This place is so nice and quiet and safe.
Look outside at the water… Look how beautiful it is.
Why are you restless?
You have such a nice sauna. Just lay in it at the end of each day, rest and detoxify your body and soul.
You have already booked and paid to go to Myanmar at the end of May, and if you wish to make changes, it will be costly to change your schedule.
Besides…. there are NO forgotten beaches in the tropics and to be realistic, you are more likely to encounter hordes of people and tourists on every white beach.”
I solemnly agree with my logical mind and after breakfast I take a large pot of green tea and head to my studio.
In the studio, I paint and the time flies…
Hours go by and I am unaware of being hungry or thirsty.
I love my studio, and I love painting in it.
The paint does not dry very fast in this humid climate, and while I wait for my layers of paint to dry, I learn to sew.
I bought a new electronic sewing machine and I am teaching myself to sew.
I practice by hemming pants for Jules, but my intentions are to design and alter dresses for myself.
My logical mind whispers in my ear:
“Look at yourself! Look at how excited you are, painting and developing the comics and superheroes art projects that you are working on.
Plus, you have your new sewing machine… You should cherish every day that you get to spend in your studio.
Soon you will leave for a trip to Myanmar; you have barely a month left to enjoy this beautiful place.”
But I still feel restless…
I do not know why, or what this restlessness means…. or even if I should listen to this meaningless whim….. After all, often those whims are nothing more than the byproducts of the monkey mind and they do not indicate anything real….
Over the last few days, I have shared my nagging feelings with Jules.
He has fluctuated between agreeing with my logical mind and fueling my desire to roam the world by adding his own flights of fancy.
He asks me WHERE would I go if we were to take an EXTRA trip between now and the end of May when we are to leave to Myanmar.
He suggests we just travel inside New Zealand.
But I do not feel inspired to do so… I want a warm place… A foreign place…. Somewhere where one cannot drink the water or understand what is being said around her….
I scan Asia in my mind’s eye and think that maybe Laos would be fun… Luang Prabang and the mountain tribes….The Philippines would be awesome… Manila with its Spanish architecture and its thousands of islands… China is always remote and foreign in its rural parts, and we are not likely to see many other tourists if we venture far off the beaten path….
In my art project, I am out of Japanese comics which I use as the background for my paintings… Maybe we can fly to Japan?
No! It is a crazy idea especially since I can buy Japanese comics in Auckland, and because we are going to Japan later in the year for two months to study Japanese language in Hokkaido…
I feel like a glutton.
Just because I can afford to go anywhere in the world and I do not have anything holding me back, it does not mean that I SHOULD go.
Just the same way that you shouldn’t eat a whole chocolate cake just because you can afford to buy a whole cake…
My logical mind says:
“What is the use of having two lovely homes if you rarely spend any time in them….
You should cherish your time in this house.
Soon you will leave and winter will come to New Zealand, and you will not return to this lovely renovated home until October…. Cherish your time here….. Look around you… See how beautiful it is…. Think of all your brothers and sisters who survived the earthquake in Kathmandu… Think of them sleeping in tents… Think of all those temples that you loved when you were in Nepal… Think of how they turned into rubble and realize just how blessed you are to be safe in your beautiful home….”
“I do… I do cherish everything… I feel so blessed… So fortunate… So unbelievably blessed….I have everything I ever wanted…
A healthy strong body, a partner I love and who loves me, my art, I can count a million blessings if not more….”
I feel a decision bubbling up from inside of me…
We have not seen it yet…
Going there will be fun….
My logical mind:
“Haven’t you listened to anything I said?
Have you not seen the pictures in the news of the police force lining up in Baltimore?
It looks almost apocalyptic.. smoke.. Guns…
This is the REAL world and here you are sitting in a heavenly peaceful place, still not content and thinking about escaping to a BETTER place… Think of those living in urban Baltimore…”
I know that it will be a hassle to fly from Auckland to the Philippines for only two weeks. The shortest flight I could find was 26 hours with connections in Melbourne, Australia and Singapore.
On top of this, we will have to return to Auckland and immediately turn around and take another long set of flights to Bangkok, to start our trip to Myanmar….
It is too much effort for too little time.
I ask Jules to call Qantas Airlines and see if they can change our flight from Auckland to Bangkok to leave two weeks earlier.
He agrees to do so.
He loves gardening around our house but the rainy weather has kept him indoors, and I can see that he too, is restless.
He stays on the phone for a long awhile, but he did it.
We are going to the Philippines!
Now that it has been decided, I find myself in a whirlwind.
We need to book a flight from Bangkok to Manila, then book a hotel in Manila, and decide on an itinerary of places to see in the Philippines.
Two weeks is such a short time…
The beaches of the Philippines are famous for their beauty, but they are very, very touristy. Almost as busy as the beaches of Thailand.
But there is lots more to see and do in this fascinating island nation.
We can start by exploring Manila, hike in the amazing rice terraces of Banaue and Batad, visit inaccessible villages, bathe in hot springs along the way, visit old cities, and maybe see the famed chocolate hills…
Now I feel that we have too much to do and too little time, and we have to close the house and… What am I doing sitting here talking to you… I have a trip to plan…