Unconventional Lives in New Zealand: Stories of Freedom, Purpose, and Breaking the Mold

  I have lived in New Zealand for ten years and have met some strange people. Every time I think of their stories, I feel from the bottom of my heart: How can people live like this!
  A friend is less than thirty years old, a sassy girl, and loves to do things. A few years ago, she worked as a teacher in school, but then she found it boring and started a small business repairing cars. Later, she felt that there was no challenge in making money, so she handed over the business to her apprentice and became a prison guard herself. Unexpectedly, she got tired of being a prison guard and became an ordinary police officer again. When asked what her current ambition was, she said, “I won’t give up until I become a special police officer.”
  My tenant is a boy in his early twenties. He has been working since he graduated from high school. He is diligent and down-to-earth. He once had a girlfriend who “will definitely be fired if he does not work for more than a month.” After the breakup, everyone was happy, but they were worried that his new girlfriend was a single mother. However, they live a very happy life. They have been together for more than a year and got engaged not long ago.
  My neighbors are a retired couple who are full of money-making ideas. For two consecutive summers, every weekend and holiday, they rented out the house as a B&B, then drove an RV to play outside, or stayed at the woman’s mother’s house. They said that in this way, they did not worry about their pension being unable to support themselves, and they also took the opportunity to visit every town in the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
  There is also a friend whose business went bankrupt and he stopped working in anger. His livelihood tools are a fishing rod and a pair of eyes. The fishing rod is used for food, and the eyes are used for making money. His biggest hobby is picking up unwanted furniture and electrical appliances on the street, taking them home, repairing them, renovating them, and then selling them. Two years later, he managed to make himself happy and healthy.
  Seven or eight years ago, I was camping at the beach and met an old man who converted a small truck into an RV to travel around. He said that he had been living like this for many years. One day it rained and he lent me an umbrella. We chatted for a while. He said that in life, you don’t need to work or get married, you just need to be free. Over the years, I occasionally ran into his truck on the road. From a distance, I could see that he was still alone and as carefree as ever.
  An American friend fled to the Southern Hemisphere to escape his control-freak girlfriend. I first worked in an orthopedic clinic, where I met a shady boss. I was once penniless, picking up sandwiches and pizza from trash cans to eat. Later, I finally had some money, not enough to buy a house, so I bought a very dilapidated boat and lived at sea for two years. Later, he sold the boat, returned to land, started his own small business, and later moved to another city. We walked along the waterfront in the center of the city and could see the ship in the distance.
  In the past ten years, I have lived a tense life. In my imagination, a successful life can only look like one way. I hope that my life will be on track at all times. It is best not to make any mistakes. I must always move forward and not retreat at all. Such expectations are also accompanied by huge panic. If I don’t make progress for a period of time, I will apologize over and over again to my parents, partners, and friends who love me. Even if I work so hard in life, it can no longer bring me any happiness.
  My own life is very ordinary, but I am lucky enough to meet many interesting people. In addition to the above, there are many more: the friends I met in the packaging factory only worked part-time jobs, and when they saved enough money, they traveled abroad. They have visited more than 30 countries so far; the friends they met in the gym never used social software. I stopped surfing the Internet years ago and focused on cultivating a simple inner world. The student who studied Chinese with me is almost 80 years old and still edits a Chinese paragraph for me every month. He hangs a map of China on the wall of his house and reads it every day. Practice pronunciation of place names…
  Some of their lives are very inspiring, some have no pursuits, some are amazing and outrageous, but I feel warm and healing. This group of cute and ridiculous friends, with their way of life, stripped me of my own shackles: a successful life is never just one way. As long as you don’t hurt others, you can choose to live any kind of life, for a while, or for a lifetime, and you don’t need to say sorry to anyone.

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