The Art of the Temporary – today’s insight whilst painting dots on rocks with the kids and the kitchen table

Peter Kageyama – For the love of cities – encouraged us to sell our creative idea, our radical idea, our idea for change as one of ‘the temporary’.

I came home from his course in 2016 beneath Baycourt, bursting with possibility, and feeling affirmed. I’d stumbled across this notion of ‘the temporary’ when finding a way to suggest change at Playcentre and in my marriage. Sharing walls, doors, appliances, puzzles, lawns, trees, a letterbox and children with someone, or in the case of Playcentre many someones, can be aided with agreements and rhythms, yet also a sense of the temporary.

Let’s give this a go. If it fails, we try something new.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” – kia ora, Albert Einstein.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and the new Death Cafes sprouting throughout the lands (including Tauranga Death Cafe) suggest that embracing our finite lives can liberate us. That contemplating our death can help us appreciate our life.

Husband and i watched Chef’s Table last Friday night for stay-at-home-date-night. Mucho aroha sister-Tess for the tip-off, what sensational photography, seductive stories and food-for-travel. Even though JG and i agreed we smelt sadness in the eyes of Francis Mallmann, my sense of courage and wildness was deeply stirred by this man of Patagonia. Told JG, did i, we need fire in our backyard, and inviting-wooden-things-for-us-to-sit-upon in our surrounds. That night we found carpet on our deck, dragged a duvet from the couch and lay beneath the southern sky shooting with stars. Our bodies felt wondrous.

I talked and talked, quite quickly, at JG’s closed eyelids and open earholes once back in bed. We needed more wild. Take our kids into it. Where? When? I felt ravenous.

Other times my eyes and nose have seen and smelled the new of other lands and accents, i have thought on how envious i am of this vista, of this language, of this taste. How i want to KEEP ‘having’ it. How i don’t want to return to the little, long lost, i mean long white clouded island close to Antartica, our Aotearoa.

Then it has occurred to me. Would i think differently of this overseas experience if it was ‘forever’?

This morning, in the heat and with the flies of summer, i realised herein lies some magic.


The nature of the fleeting.
The attraction and the freedom of the ‘unattainable’.
The joyful, playful, cheekiness of the…


Esther Perel talks about it: “Can we love what we already have? What does it mean when your partner is actually only on loan with an option to renew and doesn’t belong to you? And what would it be like if I can’t have what I already want – actually we never have it. Hence if we can live with that we probably will want it more. It’s an illusion to think we HAVE and then to complain of boredom. No you don’t HAVE, in fact your partner can leave any moment, from death, from illness, from falling in love somewhere else, from any other reason. And if you live with that, which is a certain anxiety, because we have enough unknowns and enough anxiety in our business life and our other aspects of life and our partner should just become a piece of furniture on which we can reliably sit and it will always receive us in the same way. Errrrr (buzz sound like on a TV gameshow). Not true. If you know that the persistent mystery of your partner is right there. If you know that they’re not for granted and that they actually could leave at any moment. You’d make an effort. You’d make the kind of effort with your clients, you’d make an effort you’d make with your business partners. Because they wouldn’t take this stuff.”

When a friend beckons us to read on death, in order to live ‘more’, they are pointing toward the temporary.

I have begun recording a film in my mind of boxing up our belongings, inviting another family into our home, boarding a plane and travelling to alternate lands and lives, with our young family.

And sometimes i push pause and wonder:
What of that travelling or travelled life do i wish for?
– less stuff to tidy, be attached to, maintain
– more time to say yes to spontaneity
– less meetings
– less relationships to maintain
– less roles to uphold
– more anonymity and courage to be nobody
– less expectations to meet and expect
– a more present husband?
– more time to slow down and listen
– less time to be distracted
– more time to connect with the kids
– more impetus to adventure and less excuses not to
– less desire to control
– less need to be prepared for tomorrow’s expectation?

I wonder. Could i live like this, but in my home, here, without ‘going’ anywhere special. Without leaving could i still leave some ‘stuff’ behind?

Could i live like my life is temporary?
My relationships. My things. My needs. My desires. My emotions. My knowing.

What choices would i make is this was a daily truth?
What and who would i say yes to?
Who, and what, no?
Could it be one today, another tomorrow?

Would we explore those Kaimai Mamaku huts?
Would we pack that picnic and dine on the side of the Mount with the squeeky white sand?
Would we host a crappy dinner party and see our friends more often?

It comes and it goes.
All of it.
We make a choice for now, until we make another one after that, and then another.

Oftentimes when needing to chose a path (the continuation or receding of a relationship, a career, a location to live, the number of children to welcome into one’s life, the colour of a door, the flavours of a tart, a yoga class or a cuddle on the couch) the decision can seem overwhelming in its permanence.

Yet it is not.

Do we want to believe it is, because this helps us to feel relaxed?
Do we instinctively believe this, or is this a notion proposed to us by people who like us to get mortgages, accrue wealth and assets, accumulate qualifications, increase our potential and opportunities, to amass and hold on to.

Are we surprised to note that we can feel relaxed with the knowledge all of it is but a… dream?


  1. Thank you for another brilliant post! And everything you listed about the changed family dynamics while travelling together I think are true. Ive also been pondering how I could have a similar life to nomadic life on the road but from a house. More wild is definitely called for … but the scenarios are just so different!

  2. Beautifully and originally expressed. Important questions to ponder to ensure we’re living a life more authentic, meaningful and grateful. it also left me having the thought that we’re among the lucky ones, living someone less fortunate’s vision of a dream.

    1. Soooo true Neil, this is really interesting to sit here considering. Changing lives, or rhythms or conditions seems attractive, when i can do it ‘temporarily’. There have been times in my life when i couldn’t fathom ‘the temporary’. Times where the difficulty felt so thick, heavy and going nowhere fast. Maybe this is a post helping me realise i am fortunate and feeling afloat. Gosh replying to your most empathetic comment has me feeling self-conscious as to how to reply. Other than YES. Yes.

  3. Nice one Ems xxx I love that the Peter Kageyama workshop we ran influenced thoughts beyond ‘official’ actions – at work I have collating the ‘results’ of this workshop recently and thought, oh, so sad, only one event transpired as a direct result of the workshop. But I see from this that its inspiration and thought that transpired, in many different ways. We need more present inspiration to help us all keep creating, and connecting and evolving, or even taking a step back before the complications and into the more simple and holistic ways of being together as a community. thanks darl xxx

I love reading your comments, kia ora for taking the time to share your thoughts

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