Hic et Nunc

Redwoods

While I was traveling, there were a few moments when I thought that I shouldn’t have gone back home. Something kept me away from Italy and let me believe that staying wouldn’t have been so bad after all.
Sometimes we find ourselves fascinated by new things and we end up trapped in our own enthusiasm. Well, it wasn’t different for me. I had similar feelings many times, despite my reason kept saying me: «This is not home».

Once, this temptation was stronger than usual and I had been contemplating the hypothesis of not going home for a couple hours. It was a rainy afternoon in late May. I just drove out of Rotorua, a cool little town with 50.000 inhabitants, placed in the beating heart of North Island. The city lies in the middle of a large thermal zone full of craters, springs and natural hot pools. After passing through the stinky steams and the maori villages in the suburbs, I drove along a straight road that led me, in a few minutes, to the most important natural reserve of the district.

The Redwoods Forest lies 5 km east of the city. It’s a 15-acre large green area with extremely tall trees, wetlands and walkaways. Wonderful expression of biodiversity, the forest looks like the perfect place for a relaxing walk.

The rain had been falling since early morning but it didn’t bother me. In fact, I took shelter under the strong shafts and the abundant foliage of the trees. Without any hesitation I began to walk across an easy trail. Flat and comfortable, a lazy tourist would have loved it!
This road went directly to the green heart of Whakarewarewa, allowing me to admire a long series of Douglas firs, oaks, silver ferns, larches, chestnuts, cypresses, acacias and eucalyptus. A marvelous example of arboreal cosmopolitism.

Daylight could not penetrate in that thick net and, instead of feeling trapped, I felt a strong sense of liberation, not only from the bad weather, but also from concerns and hurries. Just while I had my walk, I found the opportunity to reconsider my approach to every single thing I had been calling “emergency” until that moment. First, my arrival to Auckland (getting closer and closer), then the long flight to Italy.

Before that moment I had never been convinced to stay in New Zealand. Regardless of the different moods and situations, there were always something that made me think about Italy, about home. I could have met my friends, my parents, my streets. Most of all, she would have been there waiting for me. She would have come back from her journey and, certainly, she would have liked to cut that distance as soon as possible.

So, there were many aspects of my life waiting for me. How could I have showed me indifferent to that strong call? How could I have chosen not to come back? How could I have been so selfish?

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Redwoods Forest – ph. Manuel Pezzali

If you think like that, it looked impossible, but, in that moment, I found myself vulnerable. Maybe I was influenced by the fascinating movements of the forest, by the pleasant melodies of tuis and sparrows, by the wonderful reflections of the wetlands covered in waterlilies. I realised that I was unprepared against my own true will: the idea of not going back was getting stronger and stronger. Then, completely absorbed by nature, I began to run with my imagination and memory. I realised how miserable my life was and I tried to guess what target I could have accomplished by living in New Zealand forever. I questioned the sense of my existence and, in a heartbeat, I ended up believing that there wasn’t other way but traveling. While observing a large and wet silver fern, I thought about the nomadism growing inside of me. I had been moving from hostel to hostel for two weeks cooking healthy food, but only then I understood the beauty of living a simple life. Why coming back, then? Why letting me being weakened by comfortable habits? Why falling into mediocrity again?

Uncertainties tormented me. The more I thought about it, the more I looked selfish. How could I have imagined to tell mom and dad: «I’m sorry, but I won’t come back»? I couldn’t have tolerated to give them such pain.

I walked and walked, among the Tree Walk footbridge and the mountain bike trails, but the more I went forward the less I had certainties about my future. It was like hiking to emptiness. Every footstep was a question and my mind couldn’t stand the pressure.

Lost in that silence, I realised to be trapped in the middle of a labyrinth. The way out was clear, but my sight wasn’t. Everything looked blurred and confusing, the paths started twisting and warping, showing lots of detours they hadn’t before.

What should I have done? The forest trapped my soul and I forgot how to manage my own movements. I was losing hope and nearly gave up to the idea of passing the rest of my life there when, unexpected like a flower blooming in the snow, a cute dragonfly, right in front of me, stopped my numbness.

I watched it, elegant and careless, staying for a few seconds and then flying away into the darkness. In that moment, my reason awoke and silenced every little voice from my nomad soul: «Your life here is almost finished. It was a nice experience, but you must go now».

Rewinding the tape like I was kind of an old recorder, I walked out of the “doubtful forest”. When I stepped out of Redwoods, every question disappeared by magic. It seems incredible, but from that day I wouldn’t have had any hesitation about my projects and the will of staying in New Zealand wouldn’t have showed anymore.

Despite the quick change of perspective, that experience left me a little sign. The walk into the dark centre of the forest taught me that the mistery of nature can be really dangerous if you face it with heavy heart. And that, most of all, decisions lead to conflicts, no matter how and no matter why.

These conflicts lead to a loss. For what I can say, this loss for me is not knowing how an entire life in New Zealand would have been like. But, maybe, being mature and adult means to learn how to live with all these regrets.

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