As we are over halfway through the second decade of the second millennium, as a 27 year old YoPro I reflect on what makes a member of GenY successful these days. Life like my walk up Mangatautari this Saturday passed is full of ups and downs, obstacles, slippery moments and a constant wonder of when I am going to reach the summit.
Mangatautari is situated 23 Km south of Cambridge is one of those land features which demands to be conquered, but much like life the end goal of making it to the top must be broken down into smaller steps; whether that be ensuring that the placement of each foot in front of the other is a stable one, making it to the next turn in the path is completed, making it to the next ridge or the final assent of the trig station itself all take a level of determination and focus in order to make it to the end along with the spirit not to give up and turn around heading back down the mountain. The sanctuary is surrounded by pest proof fences which are lined with traps should any introduced species happen to get in. Without possums/ rats/ stoats/ ferrets/ pigs/ deer/ goats the undergrowth is lush, the trees are coated in mosses, vines and mistletoe, trees growing off trees, fallen trees creating foundations for the next generation of trees and the canopies filled with bird song of kakariki, tui, bell birds, the swoosh of giant kereru, the chirp of wax eyes and robins these are the small rewards the mountain gives you on your journey to the top.
Much like graduating from my Bachelor of Science degree in Otago, gaining access to the Bachelor of Optometry in Auckland, venturing through the stages of the School of Optometry, ticking off each assignment, each test, each exam, each assessment until finally graduating as an Optometrist. They were my small bonuses along the way that gave me the joy to carry on and not just turn back and head back down the mountain, back home to small town Invercargill, back to being a small fish, quietly swimming around a small pond in a small hidden part of the world.
Finally after an hour and a half of venturing over, under and around fallen trees, over roots covering the path, acting as small slippery steps up the mountain, through mud and swamp with the stiff perfume of decomposing vegetation and moss that only native forest can give off I had made it to the trig station at the top: a small clearing in the tall trees, a pyramid shaped structure with black and white panels. All that way to gain the smallest view across the Waikato plains but only by peering over the vegetation on tippy-toes atop of this humble structure….. Rather disappointing really….
Much like graduating reaching the summit was a weird sense of achievement but with a feeling of wanting more. I had already started my job and much like heading back down the mountain, finishing Optometry school was only a time to reflect on what had been achieved. Now I was back at sea level I could see other Mountains on the horizon and knew of many more larger, more challenging mountains that were out there to be climbed. I was heavily in Debt, my student loan topped $86K, I had blown my bond from work on enjoying my summer and I had maxed out my overdraft. I had no car or furniture, I had sold my bike at the end of uni. I basically had a suitcase worth of clothes and a large brown box worth of items only with sentimental value, It was time to start climbing another Mountain. This one would take longer than I had anticipated, this one was definitely full of plenty of setbacks, plenty of false summits, slippery paths and disappointments, but now a year and a half on, I do feel that I may finally have reached that marker, and as I write this I reflect on what has taken place to get me here, a car, no overdraft, a supportive and inspiring girl friend, a small taste of travel be it only 3 days in Bali, a new home town and my second job as an optometrist. As I descend this mountain I now look ahead to what is next, what mountains are on my horizon; to own a house, travel, to improve my car, to become a better optometrist, a more well rounded, more knowledgeable, more experienced professional, to follow my dreams of one day owning a deer farm, a restaurant, having a family… these are all what lie ahead but its great to have the gravity on my side and reflect on what has been a wonderful and fulfilling climb.