The Weekly: Being Still
The Weekly – 17 January 2017
I’m not good at being still. I never have been. Whenever my life is quiet, peaceful, routine, I do something to rattle that cage. I’m not sure if I was that way as a child, but I know it started when I hit double digits.
Given some of the places I’ve traveled to, I often think about what a luxury it is, shrugging off stillness, looking for what’s next. Some people must be screaming for a breather.
I even chose a career that’s Jekyll and Hyde: when I’m at home in my writing routine, I’m longing for my next assignment; when I’m on assignment, I’m looking forward to waking up, making myself a vat of coffee, and spending the morning in my home office that overlooks the lake, writing.
(My father told my partner, Chris, that he would never be bored with me. I think Chris is now starting to understand everything that statement encompasses…)
Assignments are the easy part of my job, the exciting part. Adrenaline can keep me going through illness, self-doubt, injury, and tiredness. The hard yards come later, when I sit down to craft the story. I can get something on paper quickly, but teasing the story into shape, cajoling it, killing your darlings – that takes time, tears, and patience.
This week I’ve been finishing up one big assignment, and while it’s exciting seeing the story start to take shape, my brain is still fuzzy with the flu, and hours of the day spin round like the second hand of a stop-watch.
I’ve started work on another assignment this week, but that was the fun part: I spent half-a-day in the East Matukituki Valley with four members of the Wanaka Search and Rescue team practicing river crossings and the like. It was a Master Class: I learned more in two hours than in 20 years of tramping. Now comes the stillness, turning the experience into a story.
Even the weather is howling and restless. Usually at this time of year we have hours of baking hot sunshine without a breath of wind, but it’s been a week of gales, white-caps, and rain. (Perhaps Southern Hemisphere sympathy pains for the snowpocalypse that’s slamming the U.S.)
We did have one still night, when the moon was out in full. I went out into our backyard, took a few deep breaths, and took this picture of home. A moment of stillness.
I hope everyone has a good week, watching history unfolding. It will be interesting to see what this year brings.