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| OPINION |

A Wholesome Adventure

Lessons Abound in New Zealand

T

his is such a wholesome bag,” said the woman at the airport after a cute beagle had sniffed with interest our day backpack that had contained some snacks and other residues. Her smile providing some context to this new word (and world) for me made my prodrome of embarrassment melt as she was going through all the unused plastic cutlery I had rescued from the plane as I was once again taken over by these attacks of determination to save the planet. This was after a somewhat tedious inspection of all our hiking and camping gear (tents, poles, sticks, boots) after we landed in Christchurch. But I hadn’t minded this; as a real vacation I had decided to embark in a complete work email detox (which hadn’t happened in years) and this meant not worrying about time and its straightjackets we call schedules and deadlines. Plus, we had skipped Friday because of the time zone change, so travelling in the future makes you want to be ahead in terms of progress, evolution, consciousness. I couldn’t wait to finally leave this treadmill of modern life for two and a half weeks and indulge with my family in an overdose of awe in New Zealand’s natural, bountiful beauty. It had also become neces-

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Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine

sary to turn off the hyperactive outrage alarm of my activism pager, and switch my cognitive settings to positive, open-minded, Zen perspective. A fantail flew above our heads as we were heading out of the airport, and I immediately liked the fluidity of the environment, so welcoming to all its inhabitants. It would be challenging to not disconnect from the toxicity of billboards we see back home when

By Caroline Giroux, MD cgiroux@ucdavis.edu

adaptation, by then the pace for seeking sensation has slowed down enough, hibernating, to allow a serene, expectation-less appreciation of life. The reality is devoid of the usual clutter of our procedures (no liability form to fill out to do luge in Queenstown, so all the brain power is available to admire the view and the low-hanging clouds nonchalantly floating lower than the mountains like scarves). Your

Near the Moeraki Boulders, a sign reminds drivers to slow down: “No doctor, no hospital, one cemetery.” a village of sheep with a snowcovered mountain as a background becomes a common sight. Or when cows grazing casually by a river seem to provide encouragement as we are hiking to Aspiring Hut, not being able to keep up with three women and their toddlers or local bikers. The numerous species of fern (some of which cover trees and help those that can’t grow many roots in granite stay hydrated) create a fairy tale-like scenery. It is impossible to experience boredom in such a diverse landscape, while hearing melodious and foreign birdsongs. And even when it becomes the new norm and puts you at risk of hedonic

mind stays awake as it is tickled by the local sense of humour: as we drove through a small town near the Moeraki Boulders, a sign reminds drivers to slow down: “No doctor, no hospital, one cemetery.” The “leave no trace” rule seems Utopian when we engage in a nomadic, hippie-like journey, hopping from holiday park to camping, to hut, or boat, but the scarcity of rubbish cans forces us to realize the horrendous amount of waste we produce each day and makes us more mindful of the importance of the 6 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle, Rot (there are variants of those Rs, such as “Rethink”). Surprisingly, litter seems extremely

Profile for Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society

2019-Jul/Aug - SSV Medicine  

Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine is the official journal of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society (SSVMS) and promotes the history,...

2019-Jul/Aug - SSV Medicine  

Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine is the official journal of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society (SSVMS) and promotes the history,...