ollin-raynaud-img_2371Have you ever found a space where inspiration flows freely, where you can turn creativity on and off like a tap? I like to hope that everyone has a place like this, somewhere, somehow, and we just have to find it. A place where work is easy, everything is done before the deadline, and the results are effortlessly good.

My spot is Huia. There’s something eerily beautiful about it; the tui in the trees wake me in the morning. An abundance of trees: rimu, kahikatea, kowhai, tawa, manuka, ponga, tree rata, pine. I have never been woken by traffic. There’s no rush hour, and there has probably never been a traffic jam. There’s one store and they’re friendly, and if you want them to they know your name, and if you want them to not, they don’t. It is strange that it is part of New Zealand’s biggest city, yet, so completely removed and different. 

It is here that I know why Maori named the land Aotearoa, “The Land of the Long White Cloud.” The fog hangs low in the forests, shrouding the morning in pure white, so you can barely see ahead of you. It stays chilly until the afternoon, when suddenly the white haze lifts, revealing perfect blue skies, hundreds of shades of green and an almost pure, almost virgin forest. I think how much of New Zealand would have been covered in forest, and how in the past seeing this hanging fog would have been common. 

There’s a hill I sometimes go up, called Jackie’s Peak, where you can see the Manukau, glistening and open, a huge mirror that reflects back on the land. It puts everything in perspective. When you are this high up, you feel both insignificant and sometimes at one with the land. Up this hill, I find peace, and often, lyrics and music. In the valley, I find songs. And in the stretch of beach the ability to see what matters in the world.

It’s here we are now, reading, thinking, writing.

Apart from this six-month stretch and another brief time here in Huia, I’ve spent my entire life in cities. I have breathed the air of culture, the smog of change and progress, of demolition and renewal, deadlines and drive, competition, curation, and criticism. To find my place I had to step away from that, to disappear quietly. For you, it may mean stepping towards a city, and finding a place of hope and excitement.

Where’s your place? I hope you find it, if you are looking.

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