We all have changes of seasons in our lives. He maha nga wahanga.
These changes can be physical, intellectual, relational or spiritual and it helps if we notice when such changes are occurring. However, that is not always possible without the help of others.
As winter settles in with frosts and chilly mornings, I am mindful of the 2022-23 summer we didn’t have here in the Bay of Plenty due to the appalling wet weather.
It seems to make the onset of these cold winter mornings even worse and many I have spoken to feel we have been robbed of a summer.
However, things were different down in the South Island where they experienced beautiful sunny weather, to the extent that some areas had drought conditions. I recently read somewhere that the southernmost parts of the South Island have become the new Bay of Plenty summer weather-wise.
Who would have thought?
This is not a column about global warming because there is ample material out there about that tropic, I mean topic, but it does deserve a special mention award.
The climate patterns in our small islands of Aotearoa are changing and, if we are not careful, we could easily become that frog in a pool of water that slowly warms up until it is too late for the frog to realise what’s going on.
Let’s not be that frog that denies climate change.
Back to winter. Many chilly sunrises ago my wife and I lived in a tiny flat in Palmerston North that you couldn’t swing a cat in.
However, being tiny also had its advantages. It was very easy to heat with a small heater. We could also keep the whole flat warm after cooking a roast and leaving the oven door open once the oven was turned off.
Nowadays we live in a big well-insulated, multi-glazed, three-bedroom house in Rotorua and we have four kinds of heating.
The gas oven is no longer an option although the oven door is kept open after an evening roast. Some habits are hard to break. We now have gas heaters, a heat pump, a fireplace and lots of “throw overs”.
Oh, how times have changed!
If you were to ask me what my favourite form of heating is, that would be the fireplace. It thoroughly heats the whole house, including my office, which is the room furthest from the furnace. I also find it cathartic collecting and cutting firewood, sometimes years ahead.
Emotional, intellectual or spiritual changes are a lot more difficult to identify and prepare for than the winter physical changes. Especially if we don’t recognise those sent to help us.
I saw an online interview where Tom Cruise caught the subway in London. Upon entering the train he noticed everyone was busy on their devices and did not even look up. As he stood by the pole a teenage girl noticed him. They looked at each other before she glanced up and down the train at everyone on their devices. She realised that she was the only one who had identified Tom.
He motioned her to be quiet before she gave him her phone and he took a selfie.
Sometimes we can be so caught up on our mobile devices or the busyness of life that we fail to stop and look around the proverbial intellectual, spiritual and relational train we find ourselves on and see the helpers or experts we are travelling with.
One of my favourite proverbs is aro ake ki nga kupu o ou Tupuna, exhorting me to take heed of the words of my ancestors.
Many see ancestors as those who lived many years ago but, for me, they include those who passed more recently and those who I was privileged to share time with before their passing. People like Darcy Hunter jnr, Mita Mohi, Tumanako Wereta, Rawiri Te Whare, my sister, my mum, my nanny and my koro.
They remind me that intellectual, spiritual and relational changes occur as often as the four seasons of the year and to prepare for them by storing up metaphoric firewood such as good times to prepare for the bad times, laughter for crying, encouragement for discouraging times and do my best to be a good ancestor for those who I am currently travelling with.
So as winter wakes us out of our slumber with noticeable physical changes such as frost, it is a good time to consider those changes that are not so obvious.
Change is a-happening, time to get out of that lukewarm water.
- Ngahihi o te ra Bidois is an international keynote speaker, businessman, author, columnist husband, father, koro and MBA. A Māori boy from Awahou.