The Heath Era Draws to a Close

My childhood dream car.

Well, I knew the time would eventually come, and it has. My trusty old FJ40 Landcruiser (“Heath”) is up for sale. It really does feel like the end of an era. An era which started in my teens when I used to head along to the car auctions in my hometown of Dunedin to watch the 40 series Landcruisers being bought and sold. I even kept a journal of the models and sale prices. You could say I was obsessed.

In my twenties and in my relationship with Stephen, we bought a 70 series model, which we affectionately named “Poppy” and which turned out to be a fantastic vehicle. Yet I couldn’t drive past a 40 series without feeling the pang of that old yearning from my young days.. when I used to imagine a brighter future for myself. Interestingly I imagined myself driving a vehicle exactly like Heath.

I bought Heath in the end, I moved to Wanaka. I decided it was time to live my dream existence. It was a great decision. I’ve moved into a place in my life where I feel that any dream I have could be realised. I have the liberty and power to fulfill my own desires. I live a privileged life indeed.

Sometimes, when people get what they dream of, they begin to feel restless and dissatisfied. As if somehow having an unrequited desire gave their life a sense of shape or substance, and without that longing they are lost. I’m fortunate not to be such a person. Often once I achieve a goal, I literally do simply fall back into a state of bliss and luxuriate in the pleasure of being where I want to be.

But nothing ever remains the same. At this point in my life I seem to be undergoing a process of shifting on from the dreams and ambitions as well as rules and restrictions that I set up for myself when I was an idealistic teen. The feeling is one of relief. Like an absence of angst – an ennui like that of a late summer’s evening. A few weeks ago (just before I contracted some kind of killer-bug that has rendered me unable to eat or exercise and is now into its third week – but that is for another day) I gave up vegetarianism – after a period of just short of 20 years.

You might think this would be a major event, and I certainly imagined it might have been, but in the end it occurred in one of those “I’m hungry and there’s nothing to eat” moments on a road trip to Wellington with Nikki. Within days I’d sampled the flesh of almost every animal commercially farmed in New Zealand. Supermarkets suddenly became places of incredible abundance.. and restaurant menus, well nothing can describe the sudden sense of choice. I no longer have to play the ignominious role of the “Vegetarian at a barbeque”.

There are many great reasons for being vegetarian. It’s good for the planet and it’s healthy. I haven’t abandoned some of the special joys and privileges of vegetarianism entirely, I’m sure I’ll still have many meals without meat. I still love lentils.

The point here is not one of the philosophy of diet and consumption in the western world (that argument was won to my satisfaction by the vegetarians years ago,) the point here is of my sudden ability to release myself from the rules and social barriers that I had erected around myself all those years ago.

If I’m totally honest, I’d have to admit that the single most powerful force behind my choice and commitment to vegetarianism was my need to set myself aside. To be apart from the mainstream of society. To exist in a place that was solitary and from which I could not be repelled, rejected. For decades I’ve created this unique entity out of myself that has allowed me to pre-empt any social rejection by separating myself first. I lived in a suit of armour of difference.

Today, I get that I am, more than anything, the same as others. My small and happy life in Wanaka has allowed me to experience the truth of my ‘ordinariness’ and this has been a relief and a revelation. I don’t have to deny myself the simple pleasures of the mainstream world just because there’s one aspect of me that sets me apart.

So I’m going to buy a B4 RSK Subaru and eat meat and drink beer – because I like fast cars, enjoy a beer and LOVE the taste of meat.

And it feels good.


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