Walking on shaky ground

  • Bussed to Auckland from Wanganui? Check.
  • Spent an enjoyable evening catching up with friends and their new kittens? Check.
  • Tried to find a replacement pair of shoes for my trek in downtown Auckland, yet felt overwhelmed by the noise and people and choice? Check.
  • Knew within 30 minutes of Christchurch’s 6.3 earthquake that something was wrong with my hometown? Check.
  • Have felt weird ever since? Check ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

It took me until midnight that fateful day to learn that my immediate family was safe. It wasn’t until the next evening that I heard from several close friends. So far, I don’t believe I have a direct connection with the dead or missing. I am nervously waiting though for the official lists to be published – Christchurch is too small to not know someone from a random group of 100-300.

The next day I attend part two of the TetraHui – a conference for facilitators trained in the TetraMap tool, helping people understand themselves and others. It was an awesome day with wonderful people and well worth attending, but simmering beneath the surface was my feeling that I shouldn’t be enjoying myself…

Messages of support reached me via Facebook and my blog and email and text. Friends all over the world were checking I was OK. Physically I was. Mentally I was fuzzy.

Should I quickly return to my city? But they were telling people to stay at home; to look after themselves and neighbours; not to travel. Would I be more hindrance than help? It’s not like I have a house to inspect or pets to care for.

Almost by default I decided to return to Wanganui as planned, and prepare to continue my trek towards Wellington as planned.

Why then can’t I take my eyes off the horrific pictures on TV news? Why do I constantly scan Facebook for updates of what’s happening to the streets and people I know so well?

TV? Thud!

For three months I’ve barely given a thought to the personal belongings I’ve left in storage at my brother’s place and Ged’s – the mate I crashed with as I prepared this adventure. My brother lives near Oxford, so suffered no damage. Ged’s flat in Cashmere however has burst at the seams.

He posted pictures of the fractured brickwork, smashed windows and tossed appliances. The one wardrobe of my stuff was thrown asunder. Bravely (or stupidly, I can’t decide) he risked entering to gather some things – mine included. I know he’s rescued my passport and important documents and some clothes. I’m not sure about my treasured wristwatch or favourite workshop props.

Kitchen? Crash!

Does that concern me? In some ways, yes! I imagine flying home then like Dash in The Incredibles animation, whizzing in and out of the building faster than light, returning to my possession what is being threatened.

Then I also picture the house imploding with me somewhere on Te Araroa. The roof and walls would damage my things, but much would be salvageable with no risk to my life (or Ged’s again). It is, after all, just stuff.

Leaving Auckland yesterday morning I was sombre. Everyone was going about their business as usual – the train was chokka with students and businesspeople and all manner of folk for whom the devastation 1000km away was awful, but not personal. Yet that’s what I was planning to do too – going about my business. How can I justify continuing MyAdventurePlus and enjoy my walk to Wellington and then Bluff whilst the very fabric of my city has forever changed?

Wall? Pop!

I don’t know if I can answer that question, but I am going to continue to walk. Articulating the reason is not possible. Perhaps it is because shell-shocked friends in Christchurch have said “It’s just as well you are not here – keep going, finish your dream”. Their strength and compassion despite the adversity they face is inspiring.

Will this be yet another of life’s what if? moments? What if it turns out I should have returned? What if there’s yet another aftershock and I missed this chance to hug my family one last time? What if I get to Bluff and feel I wasted that energy which could have been spent helping rebuild my community?

That’s the thing about life… we only have a choice. At this point in time, I choose to walk.

Kia kaha Christchurch – I love you.

About Stuart Fleming

Just a guy who likes to walk and write.
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8 Responses to Walking on shaky ground

  1. Sending love and hugs Stuart. Follow your intuition re continuing your walk. I agree it’s extremely difficult to know what would be the definitively ‘best’ answer. Head back and help? Or keep walking? Just follow your heart, and your feet, and know the decision you make is the right one right now. You can always change your mind at any time! I am thankful you weren’t in Christchurch. Watches can be replaced. People can’t. Thinking of you and your walk-weary feet and glad you’re feeling them!

  2. Matt "Shrek" McGlinchey says:

    hey Stu, keep walking mate, we will rebuild the city, with the same resolve you have to get to bluff. by the time you get here things will be repaired to the point where we can take visitors without extra strain. be thankful that you are safe and that those you know so far you are safe. kia kaha Stu, Walk Strong.

    • Mate, the way you get stuck into hands-on projects you’ll have the entire city rebuilt by the end of April! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for your support – my resolve is still strong to get to Bluff. I’m pleased to report that EVERYONE I’m encountering on my journey now are full of empathy when the topic comes around to Christchurch. The whole country is behind you buddy…

  3. Lisa Olson says:

    Hi Stu!
    Egads! When we heard the news our thoughts immediately went to you. Glad to see that you are safe. Have you heard from Lee and her clan by chance? We have not. Although we are a million miles away we are sending our prayers to all the lovely people in Christchurch. Sounds like an amazing journey you are on. We long for an adventuresome life but our adventures now are quite different than climbing mountains. With 4 little ones I move mountains everyday in the terms of laundry! This is not intended to be about me…rather to check on you. You are amazing and have always made us laugh. That is your gift….laughter. And spreading your contagious smile and laughter to all. That is needed now, in these troublesome times more than ever. Carry on my friend. God Bless.
    Lisa, Erik, Sam, Josh, Lexi, and Ben Olson (The Olson six pack, USA)

  4. Michael Gatehouse (Toroa) says:

    keep walking stu. know that the members of the movement you head are doing everything that they can think of 2 assist our brother and sister scouts in Christchurch, and everyone else in the garden city. Our thoughts are also with you as you continue your walk. Kia Kaha.

    • Cheers Michael – I’m so proud every time I hear how Scouts are pitching in and helping out… whether it’s delivering water and milk around the city or using the mobile kitchens to create all those yummy meals for the chopper to deliver. I’ll be there as soon as I can!

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