OCTOBER 2020

Jet lag. That’s the best way I can describe what I think has been going on in my head and in my heart for the past year. I don’t know if I ever fully experienced jet lag like I did when my family and I came to Aotearoa New Zealand last October. The physical manifestations of it were there in the first month: I slept like a baby, I was always a bit sluggish, and my mind was generally racing around with excitement while also being a bit confused. After settling into our new (rental) home here things slowed down a bit and I got adjusted to the daily life of being here.

But the jet lag still lingered, this time in a different way. It was a low level of jet lag, one that was barely noticeable. I couldn’t really focus on anything and my head felt like it was tugged in so many directions. Part of my world was still in the USA….we still owned our home Fidelia Hall…and with that came the feeling of being yanked in every direction. During my time in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2019-2020 I wandered around in a fog, going from one location to the next, my physical self fully in this land but my mental state somewhere wandering in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 

Lately I’ve been waking up and the Wellington winds (it sure is windy here) have finally been doing their part and have blown away that fog out of my brain. I am finally relearning the ability to step back and assess what I need for myself in that moment. I lost that somewhere along the line. The creative bits of my brain have awoken from their jet lag. I am creating and releasing music once again and this invigorates me like nothing else. I am learning, one step at a time, to follow my gut when it comes to music and to get it out there when it is ready. The moments that my family and I have together are simpler, more understanding, and overall the connection that is there is stronger than ever. We are learning even more so who each of us are and how we all come together in this family. We have respect and an understanding of each other and from that a general sense of peace and happiness washes over us.

Covid came, went, came back again, and went (sort of) here in New Zealand. It’s been interesting being in a country that did the right thing during a global pandemic. It’s been interesting to see how the government reacted to this current situation and how the population of this country responded. I can say for sure that every person in New Zealand is tired of Covid, but at the same time they all remain as dedicated as ever to the cause of making sure it doesn’t hit this country in full force. Seeing a nation come together, dismiss all conspiracy theories, trust in what the government recommended, and then work together as one showed me that not everything is as broken across the world as my cynical modern era American self had led me to believe.  

For me, the initial Covid-19 lockdown period in New Zealand was eye opening. On the work front, I got to see a great group of people who work in libraries & community spaces at my job come together, breathe, learn how to think quickly on their feet, and to unleash their inner creativity. On the home front, it goes without saying that being locked in my house with my family over 6 weeks was something that I had long dreamed of doing. It was a moment in time that offered me a glimpse at my ideal life: raising a family day in day out with Haley, seeing Finn & Aero grow, watching films together, playing games, and encouraging each other to be creative and open up our heads and hearts to new things. It was one of my favorite times being alive in my 40 years on this planet, and despite the craziness happening around the world at that time we found so much peace in those moments. And finally, on a global level, it dawned on me that this terrible pandemic showed us just how broken the world we’ve created may be. I turn to the image below to sum up this thought:

For a moment in between March-June 2020, we were able to see just what the effects of capitalism are on ourselves and our much larger society. When we paused to protect ourselves and to come together to beat this pandemic we saw that money had little value outside of using it for the basics. We saw that when we’re not chugging away at fossil fuels we’re able to take better care of our environment. And finally, in the moments when the pandemic gripped us the most we were able to see that those working hardest to make sure life was safe & good for so many across the world were the ones being paid the least and worked the most. Imagine our capitalist society as a wall with wallpaper on it. The wall is who we are at the core, in our heads and hearts. The wallpaper is capitalism. The Covid pandemic came along and peeled a bit of that wallpaper off to show us just how damaged we’ve become at the core. It gave us a chance to see what was wrong. Now it’s up to us to use that knowledge to fix it.

We’ll keep the libraries part of this entry short: I’ve struggled to find my voice and my place in my current job. 60 % of the time I feel lost, 30% of the time I feel like I have no power to do anything that means something for the people who work in libraries and the communities that use them, and then that other 10% are the moments where something goes well and I celebrate and hang onto those. Despite that last sentence, I do like my job for the most part. I enjoy the team that I work with in my little northern suburb cluster. They are very good people with very good souls who want to do the best they can in their jobs. I find a lot of the challenges that I am facing to be good for growth and that in the long run they’re moments that are making me stronger as a person who works in libraries. Management in public libraries is tough: you have to sometimes adjust your very community specific way of thinking in order to get other things accomplished that may not make sense in the moment but ultimately make perfect sense. 

I look forward to using this platform more to share thoughts and happenings around everything that’s going on in my life and in the world. Thank you all for reading and for being a part of this, whether it was with Justin The Librarian or now Justin Hoenke and whatever it may become in the future.

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