Otama beach

19 April 2012

The sky is a crystalline blue, broken only by a scattering of fluffy clouds perched above the distant mountains. Between us are the waters of the bay, a greener shade darkening with depth as it stretches away towards the horizon. I stand on a long beach of ivory-white sand, gently curving from sharp sentinel rocks at one end to softer, vegetation-covered hills at the other. The sun beats down, strong enough to demand high-factor sunscreen but mollified by the gentlest of breezes to a shirtsleeves comfortableness. An old friend stands nearby but I am otherwise alone, this slice of paradise laid out for me without constraints, expectations or intrusions, just to enjoy.

The bigger picture:

As I made the transition from the Findhorn community, where I'd been living for the past twelve years, back to southern England it wasn't clear how my dance teaching career was likely to continue. I'd become very much part of 'the establishment' and had gotten into the habit of running classes & workshops within the framework of the community, usually as part of a team, with little need to solicit work further afield. However in the previous year I'd managed to arrange a few UK & overseas workshops and, buoyed up by this, had been in contact with friends in Australia & New Zealand to try and organise a return to the Other Side of the World after a ten-year absence. After a lot of toing & froing a schedule was arranged - a four-week trip with workshops on every weekend (and some in the week) going from New Zealand across to Western Australia.

(You can read my blog of the trip here.)

I'd survived the four-flight, twenty-six hour journey from London to Dunedin and had led my first workshops there (which were very well received), now I was back on the North Island for some actual holiday time with my dear friend Catherine. One of our outings took us up and over a steep ridge before descending back to sea level at Otama beach, a long stretch of white-gold sand cupping a gently curved bay with tiny waves lapping at the waterline. Under an almost cloudless sky we slipped out of our sandals and stepped out onto the warm sand only for me to discover one of its oddities - it squeaked underfoot! The effect came & went at different places along the beach but for a lot of the time our strolling was accompanied by the complaints of cartoon mice from their underground burrows. Very strange.

In a quiet moment I was struck by my situation - I'd been invited halfway round the world to share my talents, praised & lauded (& paid!) when I did so, and was now wandering through a (Sub-)Tropical Paradise with no demands on me other than I wallow in its beauty. It was, in harsh, objective terms, all good. As I slowly rocked on a tall beach swing (a nice touch from the Universe) the question arose: Why don't I live here? A moment's consideration provided all sorts of sensible answers but the question has reverberated inside me to this day, a reminder that the world is full of delights and that the choice of how to react to them remains with me.

August 2020