Return – Reintegrate – Reignite

by Russell on December 16, 2012

It’s been a little over nine weeks since I left North America and arrived back in the land of my birth, New Zealand. And what a tough time it has been.

I’ve been away three of the last four years. During that time I’ve been to Alaska and the Yukon once,  British Columbia three times, driven to states as far apart as Washington and Florida, driven up and down roads no smart motorhome owner should consider and received looks of stunned amazement from less intrepid travelers. I’ve camped in more National and State parks than most Americans, had an infringement notice from a Park Ranger, been stuck in snow twice and spent ten minutes in handcuffs at a border crossing.

I’ve mined gold in the Klondike, watched wolves in Yellowstone, got way to close to a black bear, made jam, champagne and brandy from berries and plums, purchased and partly renovated a mid ‘60’s Buick, taken over 14,000 photos, spent winter in -40C temperatures and summer in +42C, driven a total of 56,000 miles (90,000 kms), exploded a front tire at 55mph on a motorway, backed into three trees, redesigned the interior of my motorhome to suit and written three novels.

So what now?

Given that I have no money left and no job, a return to Canada or the US is not on the immediate horizon. Job hunting is ongoing but finding the right job is as tough or tougher than its ever been. In the meantime I live at the discretion of WINZ and their weekly handouts. Luckily I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge.

I was not prepared for the difficulty of reintegrating into normal life, whatever that is. Years overseas following a dream did not prepare me for the return. I remember reading the tales of people returning from a four day vision quest. As hard as the quest had been, the integration back to normal life was harder. Like them, I climbed to the top of that distant mountain and saw more than eyes could see. Now the new me had to go back to a civilization that had not changed, that plowed on relentlessly. The trip is the easy part. Taking those lessons and bringing them back to the real world is far tougher.

So I’ve returned.

I struggle to reintegrate.

And now, I must reignite; reignite the passion to write and live on my terms.


Return – Reintegrate – Reignite.  Just more steps on the longer journey.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rene & Jim December 17, 2012 at 7:22 am

Russell, I can’t imagine how tough it is to lead a “normal” life again. I think that’s part of the reason why I can’t ever see Jim and I returning to one. We’re not that tough!

You are an incredibly resilient person, I know you can take those lessons you’ve learned and go on to teach other Kiwis how to really live.


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