READING TIME: 6 MINUTES
I had moved endlessly from town to town and from city to city. It had been three months since the last time I had been in Whitianga and six months since I had last seen this man. We´ll call him Marama to protect his privacy. He was a Maori man of almost 50 years olds. A former gang leader of one of the most dangerous gangs in New Zealand.
The first time I met him it was summer. I was sitting on the floor outside a telephone booth, calling my mom to Mexico. I didn’t have a lighter and noticing I had a cigarette in my mouth and desperately looking for a light he threw his lighter over to me.
After I finished calling my mom, I went over to say thanks and we started talking. It turns out Marama had written a book about his experience as a gang leader and how he had turned himself around, working with youth as well, trying to keep them off gangs. We said our goodbyes and he went his way and I went mine.
Neither one of us belonged to that town, we where just two travelers who had casually meet each other in a place neither one of us called home.
Marama moved from town to town selling his book, he would sit on a bench with a box full of books and promoted it with pedestrians. I moved from town to town and from city to city looking for… I didn’t know what I was looking for until I found it, but that’s another story.
After an extenuating winter with a broken heart and a broken mind I decided to go back to Whitianga to recover my self from the latest happenings. I was only planning on staying one week before heading back to the city to look for work, which I was dreading, because I didn’t like the city but at the same time I couldn’t stay in Whitianga because I couldn’t find a paying job and I was broke.
Julie, the kind woman who owned the hostel where I would work as a maid for accommodation, asked if I could stay in charge of the place for a couple of days, so her husband and her could go away to a very short vacation.
I obviously said yes. You might be wondering why “obviously”, but Julie let me come back and work for her (even if she didn’t needed me) every time I found my self in trouble and I had nowhere else to go. Doing this for her allowed me to reattribute a bit of what she had done for me.
What I didn’t told Julie was that my bus ticket back to the city was booked for one of the days she was going to go away, I knew I had to miss my bus and do this for her even thou I didn’t had enough money to buy another bus ticket and I was surely not going to ask her.
It was still winter and the hostel was dead, there where no guests and I was not only alone, but lonely. With little to do and a cold and cloudy afternoon, I decided to go for a short walk to town to buy the basics; milk, bread and eggs. I didn’t have much time before night kicked in, but in this small town it wouldn’t of made a difference, it was safe and there where hardly any people in it.
There, on the same bench outside the telephone booth a familiar face came to my eyes.
It was Marama, selling his book. He barely recognized me, but to me a face like his is hard to forget.
He had tattoos covering all of his face, a Maori design. He had kind eyes but with frown wrinkles between his eyebrows, I’m assuming it was the reflection of the anger he once felt.
Which now seemed hard to image, here it was this peaceful, calm, tall man, that resembled a tree more than a former gang leader. He was standing tall next to the bench with the box caring his books.
We started chatting about what had brought us back to this town, a ghost town during the winter and a carnival during the summer. It wasn’t the best place to come to sell something, since there was hardly anyone in town.
“Here is where the wind brought me” he replied in a singing voice after I asked what was he doing here.
Trying to avoid being asked the same question I quickly asked
“Didn’t it hurt to get the tattoos on your face done?”
With firm eyes and a big smile he replied.
“Is commitment, when you know what you have to do, you have to forget about the pain and get it done. Pain is just part of the process of commitment nothing ever gets done without a little bit of pain. And when you see the result the pain is gone”.
He then went on to tell me how he flows with the wind. “When you learn to be in contact with the universe you know where the wind is coming from and where is going, IF YOU LEARN TO FLOW WITH THE WIND, YOU WILL NEVER END UP SOMEWHERE YOU WEREN´T MEANT TO BE”.
“But what if I don’t like where the wind took me? what if I’m not happy here?” I asked.
“Well then maybe you are making someone else happy, and because of that you were meant to be here. Is not always about YOU OR ME, THE WORLD DOESN’T REVOLVE AROUND YOU AND ME, WE REVOLVE WITHIN THE UNIVERSE AND OUR PURPOSE IN THIS WORLD IS NOT ONLY TO BE HAPPY, BUT TO MAKE OTHERS HAPPY AND TO LEARN TO BE HAPPY”.
“You need to meditate, I meditate in the mornings and at nights, this is the way you CONTROL YOUR MIND. BECAUSE IT IS THE ONLY THING UPON THIS WORLD THAT YOU´LL EVER BE ABLE TO CONTROL. EVERYTHING ELSE, EVERYTHING OUT THERE IS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL. YOU CAN ONLY PLAN, BUT WHAT IS MEANT TO HAPPEN WILL HAPPEN, EXCEPT THE WAY YOU REACT TO IT, THE WAY YOU FEEL ABOUT IT. THAT MY DEAR, IS YOUR CHOICE”.
I knew this far to well, he wasn’t the first one to tell me this but I didn’t know how to control my mind, I felt like an animal with no control what so ever over my instincts.
“That´s because you have to go to the nature of your mind, like everything in this world, your mind has a type of nature, you can´t take care of a pine tree the same way you take care of a palm tree. There are people who naturally have a peaceful, calm mind and then… the ones with hurricanes as minds, I’m a hurricane and I think, so are you”.
“The problem with everything my dear is that advice and words can only go so far, after that it is you that has to do the work. Now, excuse me Caroline but I have to keep working and so do you.”
“Do you think we´ll see each other again?” I asked with a certain melancholy in my voice, I barely knew this man, but I had this weird connection to him, that even if I had only meet him twice in my life I thought of him as a friend.
“I don´t know, but whether we do or we don´t we should say a kind goodbye”
“It was lovely to meet you again Caroline, don´t let the hurricanes bring you down, stand strong, because not even the wickedest of winds can bring down a strong tree with deep roots.”
“Thank you Marama. I will strongly flow with the wind, or i´ll try”
“No, there is no trying, there is only doing, do it, or die trying”
And just like that I went back to my hostel with a smile in my heart and a wandering mind. I forgot to buy the milk, the eggs and the bread. But instead I got something even better for free. Even thou I went to bed hungry that night I felt happy knowing I was exactly where I was meant to be.
This happened over a year ago, I never saw Marama again, or at least not so far. Whether the wind will bring us together again? Is a mystery the universe holds and that it is not for me to know.
Still every time the wind flows strongly, his face comes to my mind and I remember the wisdom I found on a bench, outside the telephone booth, on a cold winter afternoon.