While I’m here in Wanaka working and living I have had the time to look back and see my full experience so far, which includes my good and bad days.
We post what we want everyone to see. A life represented in pictures that have been filtered through social media to preserve smiles. We all know this because we all have Facebook, Instagram and whatever other social media that for fills your needs. We don’t post about our bad days nearly as much as we post about the good days. While traveling I’ve tried to keep a balance of what I send back to people, what information I’m giving them, I want to be true and honest to everything that comes with traveling alone. It’s not always just beautiful sunsets and gorgeous river, sometimes it’s beautiful sunsets and gorgeous rivers accompanied with a horrible day or mood. Horrible days still happen in beautiful places.
I have had my number of rough days that seemed like they would never go away but always washed away with the sunrise. My hard days are what I’ll remember because those are the days I saw myself. When I first started traveling and had a bad day I would get mad at myself for having a bad day, I’d tell myself I’m not allowed to be in a bad mood because I’m in New Zealand. It turns out you’re still aloud to travel in New Zealand even if you have bad days. You don’t always have to smile here.
I had a wet tent for a week in the North Island, had a scary run in with a hunter, been frustrated with fellow travelers, battled a losing fight with sand flies, ran out of money, felt lost in the confusion of plans and no plans and have missed home. I’ve had all those very real moments and those emotions are even more potent when you’re by yourself. When you’re alone a bad day feels like it will never go away, it’s hard to see a good day. When you’re in a bad mood with a friend then there is a hand to help you pull out of the rut but when you’re by yourself it seems harder to get out of that hole. Traveling is all of it. It’s all of the human experience, which means it’s not always full of smiles and that’s okay.
What makes these hard days wash away with the water that rises and retreats back into the ocean on the beaches of New Zealand are my good days. My bad days make good days. They work together, just like the pulling and pushing of the sea edges. I have had sand flies drive me close to insane while alone in my tent and wrapped in my sleeping bag that seemed to become smaller and smaller with each itch, but I have felt the release of my insanity by sharing my strong dislike of sand flies with a hiker on the trail the next morning who made me a cup if Israeli coffee on the side of the trail.
While I have time here in Wanaka to just be in one place, to experience the embrace of stability, I have begun to look back and see my first travels and I see good days and bad days and they both make me smile. Great days that felt so great because of those hard days. Maybe some people travel and are happy each day and that smile that they post on Facebook is always on their face but if I had the opportunity to erase my bad days I wouldn’t do it. My hard days have made my experience just as amazing as my good days.
Life is full of smiles and frowns and traveling is also.