From the moment I returned from hiking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand my time sitting in an office in the corporate city world was limited. In the words of wild man Bodhi, resisting arrest at the end of the classic surf movie Point Break, “You know I can’t handle a cage man!”
When I sat down to chat with my boss at five to five on a Monday afternoon, pausing to find the right words, he already knew what was coming. “Time to go?” He’d smiled ruefully across the desk at me and I’d nodded. An alternative to normality had presented itself to me. A job helping manage a two cottage resort on a remote island off Gizo in the Solomon Islands. It’s called Oravae Cottage and it will be my new home. The island only takes one booking at a time so I am banking on having a reasonable amount of spare time to begin writing my book in earnest and pondering the meaning of life. Oh and a spot of snorkelling, scuba diving, and hiking up the neighbouring volcano across the lagoon too.
A New Life
Although I won’t be adding to the bank account during my time there, my quality of living promises to be rich. Life will be simple but I consider the benefits…
- swimming in warm clear tropical waters every day
- turtles, sharks, fish, clams and even dugongs, all just a few fin-kicks offshore
- fresh clean air
- time to write
- free from crowds and noise
- a far slower pace of life
- healthy simple food, rich in fresh fish and vegetables
Yes, this definitely promises to offer a life more aligned with my new values and needs. Of course there is downside too. Actually I can only think of one, but it’s a considerable one in my book. Spiders. Quite sizeable ones too apparently. My skin shivers at the thought every time I imagine what I might encounter in the middle of the night while I head to the loo.
A Challenge of the Eight Legged Variety
The friend who offered me the opportunity to move there several months ago did a wonderful job singing the praises of the island paradise that could be my new home as he outlined living arrangements and what would be required of me. Just as the deal was nearly done he gleefully added “Oh, and they have these huuuge spiders too!” He spread the fingers of one hand out wide and placed them against the wall next to our table in demonstration. Registering the look of horror on my face he immediately started back-pedalling, “oh they’re not that bad actually. And last time I went there I didn’t even see one at all!” But the seed had been planted and my heart sunk. In all seriousness, this wasn’t a matter I could gloss over. This is a creature known to reduce me to a whimpering ball curled up on a bed, sobbing in horror. I have been known to drag complete strangers off the street, innocently enquiring how they felt about spiders before asking if perhaps they wouldn’t mind removing one from my hallway. No, this was not something I could realistically deal with.
My friend’s face fell “Really?” He was disappointed. But then I thought again about the other wildlife there – the fish, the sharks, the turtles and birds. Every day. Just offshore. In 30c degree water. Maybe I could find a way to deal with the insects?
So the next chapter is locked away – three months on a beautiful tropical island, starting 29 October. I will say goodbye to the city and to my high rise office building. Say goodbye to writing office policies and procedures that no one ever reads, say goodbye to meetings, never ending corporate planning sessions and other tasks that induce glazed eyes and an empty heart. I will breathe in the fresh air, follow my passion and let intuition be my guide for the chapter to follow. I’m throwing it all to the wind and will see where I land.
Of course I am plotting future treks too. Somewhere amongst it all next year I will do another long distance hike. To tune myself to the environment again and make sure I’m “keeping it real”. Out there I can hear my inner voice saying whatever it is I need to hear.
Hopefully I’ll hear it in the Solomons too!