"taonga"

“A treasured thing”

As I start the declutter of the house, I face a thousand (actually possibly a million) decisions of what to keep and what to rehome/recycle/pass to charity… (throwing away being the last option). I have many MANY “things” and am finding as life changes I am willing to part with more of them, and kinda hope the next house will feel less “full”..

I also have to make some hard decisions about Whanau Taonga, things that have been passed onto me, some for safe keeping (easily kept) but some have come to me when others moved, or even just as gifts. These are the things that the hardest decisions will be about. Some have sentimental value, but is that enough to keep it? Some have monetary value, but does that justify a place in my new slimmed down surroundings? Some are kitsch, some are sleek. Some are books, music, spools of thread, boxes of buttons. There are photos, and albums – though I suspect time will dictate, that these very precious taonga will be boxed in their entirety and I will take time in the new place to make very careful decisions… And there are pieces of paper – of no perceptible worth at all….. Except they may be handwritten recipes, from people passed, who’s handwriting and notes, remind me of that person every time I use it.. They may be notes, letters, lists – things no longer “needed”, but do I keep them as mementos of times past? And of course, I have a few things penned in my dad’s instantly recognised hand – these will definitely be coming home with me.

It has got me to pondering the intangible taonga we  have in our lives. People, places, memories.

When I travel, I certainly want to visit old places, there is a calmness and serenity to be found in an old church, that I never find outside of a beach or a forest. It is almost like those thousands of prayers weave a soft blanket that surrounds you. And  I love, that here in my hometown, some small, possibly irrelevant buildings have been kept, in situ, for future generations to just touch the past with…

But I also want to visit the new! The places that will become taonga for future generations – the Sistine Chapel was new and shiny once upon a time, time has given it its mellowness and aura.. Good architecture is timeless; it speaks of the here and now, recording how we live now, but will still be accessible in 100 or 300 years, where it becomes a time capsule for lives in the past.

Outdoor spaces will always be taonga to me. You all know of my long time love affair with the sea… NOTHING grounds me more than the smell, sound and sight of the sea. From my hometown Tahunanui Beach, to Hawaii, Gisborne or Alaska. The sea always soothes me…. But give me a forest, river, canyon and Mother Nature enthrals with her ability to create beauty with the lightest touch. Perfection in a glance….

Arguably, people are tangible, but I’m thinking more about the relationships we have with them. There are friendships I treasure beyond life. My whanau, obviously, and some friends that I consider whanau. One of the biggest joys in my 50s has been that there are still friends to be made out there. Still kindred souls to stumble across… and some of them will become taonga – precious, to be cultivated, and to be cherished… Some people stay just a short time, and their taonga lies in the memories that were made; maybe they changed the way I looked at life; maybe it was just one evening spent laughing together at a party; maybe a short term work mate who’s zest for life ignited something in mine… these taonga will travel with me where ever I go – easy decisions already made.

I am such a believer that every person comes into your life for a reason. Even the fleeting relationships pass on something… And sometimes it may be years before you realise the gift that they left behind. Some of them turn up just in time to give a helping hand; and others are here for the long haul – the combined memories of years or decades being my all-time precious taonga…

But the last taonga that many of us come to appreciate last.. the one we often neglect, leave getting dusty and cob webby in the corner; is us. We take ourselves, if not for granted, then at least occasionally neglected.

So, thanks to some very old friends and some shiny new friends, I am reminded to value myself, and hope that you take time to treasure yourselves…

Mauria te pono

Believe in yourself

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