It is interesting, the concept of enough. Nothing tests it more than traveling. Do I have enough clothing? Enough sunscreen? Is this hotel clean enough? The answer is almost always yes. I have so much more than enough. I love knowing this. It feels like a glut of riches just to have enough of all the most basic needs. That said, I've eaten a LOT of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the past few days. I may have had more than enough there....
I'm writing to you from the youth hostel in Franz Joseph Glacier, New Zealand. I joined the hostel today, and plan to use them for much of my remaining trip. It's funny jumping back and forth between just enough and more than enough. My hotel in Queenstown was gloriously, gluttonously luxurious. It was a one bedroom apartment, complete with washer and dryer, down comforters, and fluffy white towels that hung on warming racks. I did two loads of laundry, ordered room service, and warmed my weary body with heated towels after the shower. I even had a view. Such a treat. Now I'm on a bouncy single bed in a single, cell-like room typing like mad under a fluorescent light while listening to music streaming through my computer courtesy of the free wifi that comes with every membership. It was worth joining just for that. Not having to negotiate with time before my window to the universe I have grown so accustomed to expires. The best part of this trip is knowing that I'm just as happy in both worlds. Happiness doesn't feed on luxury, it feeds on enough.
On the way here from Queenstown I stopped at a place along the road called Blue Pools. Someone told me to stop there, and I can't even remember who said it now, but whoever it was, thank you. I wouldn't have stopped otherwise, but when I saw the sign, it triggered that memory, and I pulled the car to the side of the road. There are many of these little stops along the way, but there's no way of knowing which ones are extra special, and which are simply beautiful. Blue Pools falls into the extra special category.
I don't think it's possible to see the beauty of a place from a photograph. At least not the photos I've been taking. I desperately need a lesson in how to use my camera. Things are out of focus in some, blown out white in others. But whatever. Perhaps you can get a sense of the beauty of Blue Pools from the colors in these photos. The water was crystal clear, like a freshly washed window, and it sparkled with a blue-green intensity that only nature can create. There were fish in the river, slowly meandering their way upstream. Perhaps they were enjoying their home as much as I was.
Next to these window-like bodies of water, there are stacks of stones put there by visitors to the site. They sit like monuments/gravemarkers/skyscrapers signaling that beauty can be made by man as well as by nature, and something so simple as balanced stones can leave you breathless. I wanted to hold my breath, in fact, while walking amongst them, not daring to tread too close lest I topple a tiny ladder to the sky. They felt so lovingly planned, each stone placed just so on top of the one beneath it. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants, I whispered to myself under my breath.
As I was leaving the stone yard so full of love for the artists of the world, a man walked down the path and entered the temple of stones. I could sense his lack of respect for this world, but it wasn't until he began to kick the towers knocking them down one by one that I listened to my intuition. I couldn't believe he did it once, and then I watched him do it again, and then again. A woman walked behind him and seemed to be chastising him, but I couldn't understand the language they were speaking, so I don't know what she was saying. Finally, after the third tragedy, I said to him, "What are you doing?!?!!" I was so angry, the words shot like bullets out of my mouth. He just glanced up at me, barely paying me any mind. I don't know if my English words penetrated his thick, numb skull, but he stopped after I said my piece. My heart pounded like a thousand birds' wings within my chest, and the hot flush of ferocious anger flooded my face. After I walked past them, I burst into tears. It was so weird and unexpected; I'm grateful that I managed to contain myself so that they didn't see.
I don't completely understand why I was so hurt by his transgression, but once they started, I had a hard time stopping my tears. I sniffled my way back up the path that leads out just as it leads you into this strange, magical, teal world. I thought about transient art, and how its beauty was still there even if it's gone now. I was reminded of Andy Goldsworthy, the wondrous nature artist who builds such gorgeous creations only to leave them to nature to reclaim or destroy, depending on your perspective. If you haven't seen Rivers and Tides, the documentary about him, please watch it immediately. Here's a terrible copy of the trailer as a sneak peek.
Walking through this marvelous wonderland of Oz and NZ, I am reminded that there is vast beauty in the world. I think my tears were out of respect for this place that has been so kind to me on my travels. If your idea of fun is destroying art, then I can't comprehend the sadness within you. And for that I am eternally grateful. This time, I'm just glad that three kicks was enough.