Sunday, March 29, 2009

More on Fiordland, and teenage years, wilderness, relaxation and life

The last week has been quiet as autumn kicks in. As well as yoga I am doing something different lately in the form of getting a series of reflexology treatments. I've not had any for a couple of years - my old friend Rika used to give them to me, but she's passed on. I react well to these and I've now found a new person Danielle who comes over from Queenstown regularly. The treatments help me sort of rebalance physically for starters, and this can be hard on the odd day. However the overall effect is profound, and well... right now, life is looking a bit different already, and the serendipitous keeps on as a welcome part of it all. And who knows where this fits in...

During the week I became aware that my son Dougal is being quite challenged by life lately. He's 16 and dealing with things as they come along, but its almost as if these insightful and intelligent young men are seeing the world as it really is for the first time. With all it's injustices, difficult relationships, pollution and stupidity, it's selfishness and pain, that it all gets overwhelming for them.

Dougal at the helm of Elwing back in July 2005, steering us to Breaksea Sound...

I reckon teenagers like Dougal don't want to go forward into adulthood, they want to go back to innocence, but can't. He told me this back at about the time we were heading to Breaksea and onto Dusky Sound.

This is probably New Zealand's wildest coast line, yet on this day Fiordland was calm beyond imaginings...

One of the reasons I've embraced these expedition voyages for Dougal and myself has not only been my love of wilderness and his of natural history, but the mentoring that occurs for him on such adventures.

One such man who has had a huge beneficial influence has been Elwing's skipper, our good friend Arthur...

It was much different for me at the age of 16: I wanted to be an adult as fast as..., perhaps because I perceived them as having more fun and especially freedom.

Maybe Dougal is of a wiser generation though - one that knows better how to mix creativity and relaxation, and if the moment happens along, with wilderness...

For many young people currently they apparently start with dark sad thoughts and get into a pattern of returning there. It's a pattern worth breaking for all of us!

Water, bush, mountains and wilderness - for me this simplicity holds many of the ingredients for a healthy life. Among them I find it's a lot easier to be grateful for all we have. On this occasion we're afloat in a beautiful calm evening well on our way. It's hard to think other than being grateful...

We made Breaksea in the dark and with the aid of spotlights and rocks this was what we awoke to...

To know that wilderness exists - this I think is a very important thing in life, and we must strive to bring this into consciousness [and to protect these environments]. For in time of turmoil it's a reference point, and if we can regularly go there physically or otherwise, it's a place of reflection and healing.

Arthur prepares to haul up the anchor amidst the exhaust of the diesel warming up - not only do we need these in life, but how interesting that water is the symbol of emotions...

Enthusiasm for life and some adventure also seems to be a good ingredients for a happy time. When times are tough giving our children, and those of others, unconditional love is all the more necessary.

It's easy to love when your son gets up, grabs some toast, and heads for his fishing rod...

One thing I've learnt the last week is to take more time out to relax - work at it! The reflexology has been indicating this quite strongly, and so to the tendency to worry about teenagers.

These seals have the right idea about relaxation, and it's not called Seal Island for nothing...

They also know a thing or two chilling out as they do, near the pantry...

Blog of the week: Headroom by Gregor Ronald

Thanks to Arthur, Helen, and Dougal for the inspiration for the above words, people and landscape photography.

Fiordland: a place where you can find pretty near anything lost

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Blogger Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
This is wonderful. I have felt somewhat isolated as of late struggling with my own almost 16 year old as he enters his new world I knew was waiting. And it is all happening so fast, my head sometimes spins.
I used to be so connected with him through the mountains but a few years ago he lost interest for his own reasons, and probably some of mine as well. We are still okay as I think he has a good base but I know I have to get him back out there. As you write this is where the mentoring occurs, and I fear I am fast instead lecturing. I guess at some point we are all in danger of that with sons. Your words, and photos, mean more to me here than you know. Kia kaha.

March 30, 2009 at 9:11 PM  
Anonymous marg said...

I did not imagine that I might find a blog so helpful. Your sons are both lucky to have you to be alongside them. I parent my 17 and half year old son alone and have felt just as lost in his growing up as you appear to be but through all of that he talks to me when the time is right. Even though he is great lad I do worry about him a lot both in the present and in the yet to be experienced future. So it comforts me that I am not the only parent who feels like this. ON a different note I had 2 days in queestown over the weekend and another 3 in cromwell this week for work and was enthralled by the changing autumn landscape. I cant describe the feeling that comes from seeing those mountains and vastness of the landscape. Coming back to the moodiness of the coast today was such a contrast. Still it was good to be home. The boy does well in my absence.

April 1, 2009 at 10:52 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Hi Robb

I'm glad my blog on parenting resonated with you. It seems to me that networking with other parents is invaluable right now. I have always tended to, but until lately did more with the mentoring types, whereas now I can see ways we can work together not only sharing information on the trends out there, but planning consistent strategies for growth and our own well-being i.e. when we know who is with who, and where etc. we can relax a bit. Then as we learn we'll find our children react favourably to the calm thoughtful flavour of the situation. And the rules and boundaries can be just as obvious, but they know there is trust, and a place of love on those occasions when ours fledglings occasionally crash land.

I've often contemplated the time we spend with our boys, and am sure that they won't fully appreciate it until they older e.g. I so recall when my dad used to take me mushroom gathering on cold, almost frosty autumn mornings long ago. I took it for granted then, but not so now, but the bonding and togetherness really helped at the time!



April 5, 2009 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Hi Marg

Sounds like you had a good time in Central - it's the best time of year eh! The golden look has started, and the air is dry and chilly, but the sun hot.

Yes, it's a bit of a different deal for a mum parenting a teenage son alone. I've always thought the analogy of crossing the bridge to manhood only with other males, in Celia Lashly's book, quit apt.

He’ll Be OK: Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men,

I'm doing some distinct aspects of the parenting thing alone too and found it useful. I've also developed a network of mum's/grandmum's of older children and get their advice occasionally, most especially several years ago, when I was very confused post separation and pre divorce.

Anyway I was rather amazed some years back to witness one of my son's friends, [and mine too], leave his mum in that sense needed to make the crossing and embark on that bridge. But his step-dad, who has in my humble opinion been stuck there so-to-speak, was in the middle hooked on adrenalin producing activities to which he offered in a spirit of love and caring to the new arrival.

Well the young man intuitively knew this was no place to loiter long, politely said "thanks, but no thanks" and is currently well on his way to the far end. Rather sadly the step-dad has been left behind bewildered and I seemingly somewhat hurt and resentful. This has made the sharing of the bridge more stressful for both, and for those waiting - especially the mother! [in my mind she gets to the other side using some other method!]

I've been following your sister's blogs, but to-date not commented. Anyway thanks for the "heads up".

Bye for now



April 5, 2009 at 3:32 PM  

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