The End of the Road

Well, friends, it had to happen sometime. I will be leaving the shores of New Zealand and heading back to the US. In fact, if you’re reading this, I already have (or at least am in the air on my way back).

Fear not, though! I’ve still got a couple of posts up my sleeve, and if the weather is amenable you may even see some hikes from North Carolina show up on this site from time to time! The site which was originally created to help my US friends know what I’m up to in New Zealand can also serve the dual purpose of letting my NZ friends know what I’m up to in the United States.

Perhaps even more excitingly, this is not the end of my New Zealand adventure. I fully intend to make it back here, perhaps sooner than you think :)

Some thoughts, of mine and of others

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “When we travel, we travel not to see new places with new eyes; but that when we come home we see home with new eyes.” Similarly, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

We are shaped by our experiences, and I am incredibly grateful to have been shaped by New Zealand over these fourteen months. Returning home to the US is neither a victory nor a defeat; it is the next step along the road. Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist, “We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.”

The fearful, shortsighted response is to think back over the amazing experiences I’ve had and to be afraid that moving back to the US will mean I won’t have similar experiences again. But the faithful, understanding approach is to recognize the person those experiences have helped me become and to know that in no way can those experiences or that personhood be taken from me, no matter what the future holds.

Coelho also wrote, “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” My dreams are not in America. My dreams are not in New Zealand. My dreams are in Heaven.

A few months into my trip, I foresaw a looming difficulty: while I missed my relationships in North Carolina, I knew I was building great friendships in New Zealand as well and would equally miss those upon my return. I asked a friend from church who had been in a similar situation for some advice. She wrote, “… part of being a disciple is (I believe) being nomadic….What I’ve found is that no matter where you go as a disciple you are going to form meaningful relationships and in that way traveling to new places divides your heart between the families you’ve built, and that pain of that division will always be with you. But the joy of getting to know and love new people is worth it!”

I can certainly see the wisdom of those words. And I think it’s an immature worldview to deny oneself membership in a global family due to fear of eventual separation. Bertrand Russell said, “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness,” and George Bernard Shaw wrote, “There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it.”

It is, perhaps, presumptuous to foretell the rest of my life, given both that I have no idea how long that will be and by any reasonable expectation have not lived even half of it yet. But it seems likely to me that I shall live out my life with my heart divided in two. If this ceases to be the case, it is less likely that the two have become one than that the two have become three. But rather than mourn what lies behind, I honor its memory by celebrating what lies ahead.

It is, I think, fitting that I end this post with the Old Walking Song, which is the origin of this blog’s name.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

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