Spiritual harmony with simpler way of life

By Tracy Brighten

There is more to life than increasing its speed” – Mahatma Gandhi

View from top of Pohutukawa Gully

Like Gandhi, great thinkers pursue truth and wisdom. Writer and philosopher Henry Thoreau took himself into the wilderness of Walden Pond in search of spiritual harmony and a simpler way of life, and I’ve often thought how restorative such a journey would be.

Not so long ago, working and studying full-time, my days were filled from dawn to dusk ploughing through my list of “Things to do”. As technology boosts the speed of life by another 100 gigabits per second, my phone bleeped with regular rhythm and my inbox filled with forum posts and junk mail I couldn’t resist. We’re globally connected in an instant. We’re on call 24/7. We’re high speed junkies.

Against this backdrop of clock watching and deadlines, I landed on a private island in the Hauraki Gulf where our daughter was studying morepork. I was going to see why the place is so special to her.

Having arrived at night, morning offered my first glorious view across the bay. Galah, brushed with pink, perched in nearby trees, sheep speckled the pasture, and terns sat on breakwater posts. What a contrast to my work place – a shopping mall deprived of daylight, and my study space – a room hemmed in by fencing a few feet from my window.

The first night in the bush was magical. We tiptoed through fields, our head torches drawing circles on the grass, and we picked our way through bush in search of an owl. Deeper into the bush, darkness enclosed us. When the first “more-pork” call filled the silence, moonlight broke through clouds and picked out ponga tops with stage light timing.

As I tried to plan our days, Alex reminded me of “island time” – everything would be done, guided by sunrise and sunset, but there was no hour by hour schedule. We were living in the moment. I had time to reflect, time to chat with Alex about this and that, and time to watch the sun go down.

I started to relax. We walked for several hours each day and night on hilly terrain, but this hard work wasn’t stressful like my usual multi-tasking. It was work that left me ready for restful sleep rather than lying awake with to-do items jostling for top spot.

While Alex studied her morepork recordings, I began my travel writing paper. The first prompt was to write about the view from our window. How uplifting it was to describe the panorama from our bach upon the hill. The spiritual harmony and simpler way of life that Thoreau sought, I found momentarily on that small island in the Hauraki Gulf.

Image credit: Island Escape by David Brighten