One of the first things you realize when you get to New Zealand, it’s that internet is a scarce commodity. If you have access to it at your hostel, you are lucky; if it’s not expensive, you are even luckier; and when it’s free, you feel you were blessed by an angel and won’t leave that place for a little while. And another thing you notice is that every city – that can be considered so, that is – has a library, and very often, quite a beautiful one.
Libraries here are often quite modern; they’re cozy places where you’re allowed to talk just enough, where the lighting is just in the right amount and the temperature not too high nor too low; and finally, you’ll have guessed by now, free wifi that actually works. You got it: for a bookworm like me, it’s a perfect place – and for book-lover backpackers, these buildings are synonyms of heaven.
So here I am – writing from the Wanaka library. Since I have been woofing (housekeeping for a few hours a day, in this case, in exchange of accommodation) here for the past three weeks and have wifi at the lodge, I didn’t bother asking how or where the local library was here. Today, however, when I had planned on heading to Dunedin, I spontaneously changed my mind and ended up walking in there, curious and happy, excited even, to discover a new place.
It might be the books, their smell, their font when their language is English, the low voices, the comfortable chairs, the grey sky outside, the warmth inside, or all of these things together, I’m not sure – but I feel at home. Or is it because I spent so much time here? Is it because I got used to walking these streets? Is it because I now know where things are in the supermarket? Is it because I know that wherever I go, I’ll come across friendly faces? Is it because I know this familiar lakefront is waiting for me to visit, when I said goodbye yesterday?
To be honest, you know what I feel? I feel that, thanks to my constant moving around, and thanks to this beautiful nature I have been getting closer and closer to recently, I feel the Earth itself is my home.
You know what they say – home is where the heart is. Well, my heart has gone beyond that acquaintance line that was lying between this beautiful, old Lady and me – and where I might go, I believe I’ll feel the same way. Just like every room of your house becomes a part of you once you’ve spent a significant amount of time in each of them, I believe the same happens when you try and seize everything every part of what our Planet has to offer. Just like every room of your house holds a purpose, a way to be, details to notice, corners to furnish and walls to decorate, I believe every continent, country, region, city, field, mountain, bush, lake, sea, to name but a few, is waiting for good-hearted human beings to meet and treasure them.
Today, I am grateful for what I have – Freedom. Freedom to explore, freedom to leave, freedom to stay; in other words, I have the freedom to choose. I can follow my heart and stay where I please, or pack my things and go – and whichever I’ll decide on, I will feel at home if I just follow my heart.
And just like free wifi in New Zealand, freedom is a scarce commodity – just like free wifi, it is a simple good to those who have it and yet so complicated to get to those who can’t enjoy it on a daily basis. It is so simple to forget about it and yet so noticeable when suddenly it is not there. So today, I am grateful – for this home and this freedom (and, well, free wifi) I touch and hold with my hands, mind, and heart.