Salim shared his journey to New Zealand – land of the long white clouds – and how he learned that world is not an instant gratification, that we need to prepare ourself to obtain what we are praying for. So, when the opportunity comes, we won’t waste our time to get prepared because we have stayed ready.
I learned an important lesson when I visited Paihia in the first summer break of my Master’s study at the University of Queensland a couple of years ago. It was about gaining and sustaining the momentum in every facet of my life. That I should always be prepared to catch a golden opportunity.
A glimpse of Paihia
Paihia, despite its small size, is a main tourist hub in the Bay of Islands in the far north of the North Island, New Zealand. Occupying a beautiful location between the forested hills and the bay, this town is definitely a must-visit during your trip in the North Island. What the small town has to offer is not only its stunning views and maritime activities, but also a historical reflection as it is located very close to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Museum, where the Treaty of Waitangi—which is of great significance to the history and politics of New Zealand—was first signed in 1840.
After spending my first night there with a good sleep, I woke up well before 5 a.m. since I had to catch a bus that was to take me for a one-day tour to the northern tip of the North Island. Besides, I wanted to enjoy the Paihia sunrise. Leaving the hostel, in the middle of my short walk to the bus station, I strolled along Taiputuputu Pahi Beach.
I took a deep breath, enjoying the fresh air at dawn. The weather was perfect. While I was lulled by the serenity and tranquility of the place, I did not forget to prepare my camera. Then slowly I caught the first glimpse of sunlight in the east, behind the silhouette of hills across the bay. When the magnificent golden ball of fire finally rose, I had been ready to record the beautiful moment through my camera lens. Snap!
A Paihia visit might not be considered complete without visiting Russell, only a short ferry ride from the Paihia Wharf. The township is another historic site as it was the first European settlement and sea port in New Zealand. I took a ferry from Paihia well before dark and found an exciting ambiance. Russell must be a perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon for locals and tourists alike. I strolled along the beachfront promenade lined with cafés, gift shops, and B&Bs.
If Paihia was a perfect place to watch the sunrise, then Russell was perfect to catch the sunset. That February afternoon the weather was really nice. I did not want to let the moment go without making the most of it. I found a good spot near a wharf about fifteen minutes before the sunset. While enjoying the spectacular views, I was patiently awaiting the sunset. I got my camera ready the last minutes before the orange ball of fire finally set. When it was the right time, I repeatedly pushed the button of my camera. Snap!
I have a lot to learn…
Due to the geographic location of the area I lived in, I could not go to the beach—the best place to catch the sunrise and sunset—on a frequent basis. As such, when I recognized that my visit to Paihia enabled me to enjoy the two wonders of mother nature, I really wanted to make the most of them. I would like to enjoy and capture the wonderful moments.
What I could do was to get prepared as well as possible; hence I would have been ready when the moment came. I arrived in Paihia’s Taiputuputu Pahi beach very early in the morning to hunt the sunrise, and I already found a perfect spot in Russell well before the sunset. Moreover, I also needed to make sure that the battery of my camera was fully-charged. A good spot, as well as a good angle, was a must to make the picture perfect.
I was grateful to know that the universe supported me. The morning in Paihia and the afternoon in Russell were very peaceful, accompanied by such lovely weather. I could capture the sun and light spectrum in their perfect color. It was heartwarming to know that my preparations met the valuable moment. When I observed the results of my sunrise and sunset hunting, I found the best sunrise and sunset pictures I had ever made! You might expect that my camera was like those expensive and professional cameras, but in fact it was not. It was only a pocket camera, used by such a “sub-amateur” photographer.
The great achievements we have probably depend on what we already are…
My success in capturing the great sunrise and sunset moments in the Bay of Islands brought me to a reflection on various fragments I had experienced on the journey of my life, including in study and career. There were times when I was faced with rare moments, coming in front of me just occasionally and only in a short period of time; while I had a big interest to make the most of such golden opportunities. Then I realized that a success was determined, among others, by the level of one’s preparedness when a much-awaited moment came.
I had to be able to sustain the momentum, so that I could secure the opportunity and thereby boost my potential and grow my capacity. What I should do was to encourage myself to make good and serious preparations. As such, when the golden moment of opportunity approached me, I could notice it and be ready to grab it. I must never let the moment pass me by.
I experienced such a lesson, for example, in my endeavor to further my study. When I first stepped up to the professional world upon the completion of my undergraduate degree, I had dreamt to win a scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree overseas. I did not know when the opportunity would come. I was not certain which scholarship I should hunt for. Then I determined the next steps I should complete. I already had a good portfolio of academic achievements as well as organization experience, so I needed to sit an English proficiency test. Additionally, I also tried to demonstrate good performance in the workplace in order to secure permission from my employer. Having done all the preparations, I could immediately grab such a valuable opportunity when a call for applications for Australian government scholarships was released.
I also reflected on the institutional reform in my workplace about five years ago. The first two years after the reform started were not ideal situation you could expect from your career. We had only five people as well as limited infrastructures in our unit, yet we were faced with demanding assignments from our top leaders. Leaving the office quite late at night became our daily routine. But I tried not to complain. I learned new skills and knowledge, directly mentored by my experienced boss. With a very limited staff, I did not even need to compete. When our unit became growing and more well-established, I found out that my newly-acquired skills and knowledge became a valuable competitive advantage, which allowed me to climb the career ladder and to contribute more to the institution.
Last but not least, we must rise up every time we fall…
However, there was also a time when I regretted my failure to grab a valuable opportunity because I was not well-prepared. The golden moment just passed me by without me being able to benefit from it. For instance, sometimes I just felt too shy to ask a question or two at a seminar, making me unable to enhance my understanding on the discussed topic and to make interaction with the prominent speakers. I also failed to apply for a scholarship from a British university because I had no valid IELTS score while the deadline was already approaching. These failures provided me with critical lessons on the importance of good preparations.
I must not lose faith. I might have made the best ever preparations. I might have been approached by a golden opportunity. The best momentum might come right in front of me. But I should remember that “man proposes, God disposes”. I can only propose and make my best efforts to achieve something great, but God remains the one who determines the results.
Surely I would always like to end up in “best moments” when preparations meet opportunities, as the proverb says. All I can do is to be well-prepared and to find opportunities out there, every single time.
Photos are provided by Salim Darmadi