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And Then the Humpbacks Came


The brilliance of the sky was only matched by the brilliance of the sea. They sat close; not touching, but close enough to soak up the presence of each other. Their minds wondered lazily, occasionally scanning the turquoise horizon for any sign of the migrating humpbacks. Sea eagles floated by on the breeze, beautiful and free.

Faced with a choice, staying to pursue a perfection that could never last or leave and never know.  She stared longingly at the water for answers. Perhaps she could divine her truth in the azure waves. Wrapped up in their own minds, they both continued to search for any sight of the humpbacks. Humpbacks follow an intricate migration pattern. Throughout thousands of years of evolution they have swam faithfully thousands of miles every year, charting a global map. She thought if whales knew their path, why couldn’t she? To stay, to leave, indecision is a sweet agony.

Clouds lazily drifted by, casting shadows as if mirroring their individual thoughts.  “What if I stayed?” she asked herself. She turned and stared into his eyes that shone like the lightest amber. Did she want to be lost? By being lost would she ultimately be found? She turned her face away and listened to the sound of the waves.

“What is it all worth” she wondered. To live a life on the surface, to enjoy moments but never commit to plumbing their depths? Is it worth it to risk the cold depths of another’s soul? Or is it better to just enjoy the warmth and light that the surface provides?

As they sat there on the ocean side cliff, and morning morphed into afternoon, a little sea turtle emerged. Happily, buoyant, coming up for air. She felt like that turtle, that moment of happiness was like coming up for air. They laid down on the rock and drifted in out of sleep; soaking up the sun and each other. Wrens called out happily to one another and butterflies alighted upon them gently as kisses, as if being embraced by the universe.

He put his arm over her shoulders and touched his lips to hers, a kiss mixed with passion and the saltiness of the sea. No words were needed. No decisions had to be made at that moment.  For today, each other was all that was needed. They both stared into the sea one last time, and suddenly the humpbacks appeared. Magnificent, grey and white, shooting up massive spouts of water. The light reflecting off the water made the droplights appear as diamonds. They both gasped in wonder. The whales swam through the water as if a needle threading a giant piece of blue silk. The whales jumped and pivoted, performing for themselves an ancient dance. As the whales slowly made their way out of sight, they turned and headed back to the car.


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My cab driver looked at me with his beautifully weathered cherubic face, “Today is a good day! You know the only thing in life that is free is a smile? I want to stamp everyone’s passport with a smile! Life is too short not to be happy!” he continued on “you are so bright and beautiful and New Zealand needs bright and beautiful people!” I resisted the urge to look besides me for someone else in the cab, surely he couldn’t be talking about me. It was 8am and I hadn’t had my coffee, two things that do not equal a “bright” Jo’el. His effervescent enthusiasm for life took me by surprise. An ordinary day, an ordinary city, the most ordinary job, but his radiant happiness was anything but ordinary.  What does it mean to be extra-ordindary? We seek, we travel, we search for the amazing in life, but what if we acted like everyday was a gift? To see the extra-ordinary in daily life is a beautiful skill, one that should be actively cultivated.

Staying in one spot for the last three weeks has taught me that to be amazed all I need to do is open my eyes. Open my eyes to everything around me and the windows of my heart will be flung open.

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson