Finding wonder and following the yes

A fog ringed mountain surrounded by dark blue water in Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand.

I know what you’re thinking: Ailene, you’ve just come back from holiday in the South Island—of course you found wonder!

Well… yes! Wonder is easy when you’re travelling down the west coast, around Lake Wakatipu, over to Milford Sound, past Aoraki Mount Cook, and up through Kaikoura back to Nelson…

But you know what? The moments I’m sharing with you today—those things that gave me a tingly excited feeling and made my intuition poke me in the ribs—they were all unexpected.

And since I’m practicing saying “yes” to my intuition, this video is where I’m paying attention and following it through. Without judgement or having to explain it, or even knowing where it will lead.

Here you go!

Watch time: 3½ minutes.

Or, if you prefer to read:

Dusty paths leading into the thyme and schist covered hills of Butchers Gully, South Island, New Zealand.

Butchers Gully

The landscape had turned from lush orchards growing fruit into brown hills growing rocks. We saw a lake surrounded by reeds and willows— the first green we’d seen in kilometres—and decided to stop.

There was something timeless and rather haunted about the place. Gold brought people here in the 1860’s and they set up a store, butcher’s shop, and later, the Butchers Gully Hotel. The hotel is submerged now. The Butchers Dam, built in the 1930’s to supply Alexandra with water, flooded the entire gully.

We walked up the dusty lakeside track, winding our way along a brown carpet dotted with lupins and stacks of schist. The brown wasn’t dirt, but a ground-cover plant. We paused to pick a stem and the air exploded with the smell of thyme.

A spray of white water gushing up through stepped schist rocks at Punakaiki, South Island, New Zealand.

The Truman Track and Punakaiki

It was raining. We nearly didn’t stop. But we hadn’t been before so we donned jackets and trekked up the path. We found the coast—along with wind, rain, and a roiling sea that smashed itself against the rocks.

Further down the coast and it was still raining. We found the sea again. This time we stood above towers of horizontal schist, jutting up from the earth like giants’ stepping stones. Waves foamed around the feet of the rocks, roaring up through holes to explode in clouds of white spray.

A pair of dolphins leaping out of the sea near Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand.

Dusky dolphins

We watched the giant sperm whale take his last breath before flicking up his tail and sinking beneath the waves.

And then we found the pod of dusky dolphins.

They greeted our arrival by swimming up to the boat and gleefully showing off their acrobatic and racing skills. Lithe, blue-black and white bodies leaped and twisted and splashed. They made a lot of noise, puffing small clouds of water from their blowholes and whooshing up out of the waves, slapping their tails with a crack as they fell back in.

Smooth blue-green water stretches into a hidden cove surrounded by bush in the South Island, New Zealand.

The secret cove

You’d go straight past the entrance unless you knew it was there. We slipped around boulders lurking just under the waves, past steep banks of rock, and into the cove. The water stretched out in a rippling turquoise sheet, shaded at the edges by trees, and brightened in the middle by the reflection of the sky. Out of the wind, the sun was hot on our faces.

Turquoise water, green trees and blue sky. A secret cove somewhere in Golden Bay, New Zealand.

Wonder may come to you more easily in a new environment… But know that wonder is also waiting for you in your kitchen, in the books you’ve already read, on your best friend’s face, on your daily walk.

— Jennifer Louden, Why Bother? Discover the Desire for What’s Next

How are you following the “yes” in your life?

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