Thursday, 19 December 2013
Something happens to me when I get out of the city and into what I believe is the REAL-ness of a country. I get a shiver up my spine and have that feeling which, if put into words might be something like, 'ah yes, here I am…this is it'. There is a right feeling about the setting.
I had this feeling on Waiheke, as I wandered around seeing fern fronds and flax and pohutukawa and little boats bobbing in jade-coloured bays and a bowling club circa. 1960. I felt as though I was really IN New Zealand. But what's that about?
The word that comes to mind is authentic. The idea that you're getting back to basics, back to the nitty gritty unspoilt realness of a place.
In some respects I don't like the word authentic as it has lost a lot of its authenticity through overuse. Everyone and his dog these days is bandying around the need for an authentic life, being true to ourselves and our beliefs and so on and so forth. It gets a bit much. We're so busy striving for the idea of authenticity that we forget what the authenticity we are aiming for actually is.
Is this idea (which I am failing to encapsulate in a word) the idea, or feeling that occurs when we get out of the city and away from the busy, stressful, over-achieving, over-consuming environment and just have time to settle into ourselves and breathe the fresh and, if you're lucky, honey-scented air and just be?
Because, without wanting to be all jet-set and fancy pants, I have this same feeling when I am in certain villages in France. People walk down the road with baguettes under their arms, you can smell roast lamb and rosemary wafting out of someone's blue-shuttered windows, men wearing berets and holding a glass of pastis play petanque on a dusty terrain. It feels real. Or like some kind of Truman Show set-up.
The fact that in smaller towns or villages, particularly in New Zealand, there is more evidence of the past, that is, the sixties and seventies, seems to also evoke this feeling of authenticity. Or is it nostalgia? Or just a hipster penchant for retro styles?
I am asking a lot of questions. And I really have no answers. I just know that I like the feeling as everything seems to slide into place, if only for a moment, and I think, yes, this is it. This feels good. And I smile.