I arrived home from my trip Down Under a couple of days ago, and have been reflecting on why it was such a particularly good experience. I got to see some old friends, make some new ones, and even went surfing for the first time ever (I'll be writing that up in some detail shortly). But I think what made this trip special is that everywhere I went, I was made to feel appreciated. And there's nothing like it. Mostly, this came from busy and interesting people making time to attend my classes, and to spend with me outside of my classes (Mark Holgate taking me to the Manato Safari Park, for example). Being invited along to Alonya's birthday party dinner, for another.
While I was away, I posted this picture on my Facebook feed, to see if I was alone in giving up lotions and potions space for fountain pen ink.
Turns out, a lot of my friends feel similarly about fountain pens. And some suggested I get the smaller bottles for travel, such as the exquisite Pilot iroshizuku line. A few days later, when I arrived in Wellington for the Symposium, Haden Parkes presented me with a box of them. Just because.
At the same event, Richard Cullinan and I were honoured by the gift of greenstone tokis, the Maori adze, a profound mark of respect when given by students to teachers. It was a gift given by one heart to another. Several of my non-kiwi friends at the event came up to me to make sure I understood the cultural significance of the gift. It's ok, my friends, I got it.
The colour doesn't show up so well in the photograph, but it's a glorious luminescent dark green. I think the best place to keep when not wearing it is on my study wall next to my PhD diploma. If the diploma represents what I do, the toki represents why.
It can be lonely work, plodding away in a field about which 99% of the human population knows nothing and cares less. To know that my work is appreciated like this makes all the difference.