Matt Rayner - Blog
23 July 2020
It's been a while, again. I've settled into living in Queenstown so much so that it's normal life for me. There's no natural milestone that signals the need for a new blog post, such as moving from one town to another. Instead, I have the task on my to do list for weeks before I actually do it. In this blog I'm going to update you on what's happened recently and how I've been doing. If you're just here for an update on what I have done then read the first half. If you also want an update on more of my life, read this in full. If you don't care for either of those (which I'd be surprised if it wasn't most people) then you should stop reading this now and comment something sweet on my Instagram pictures even though you only looked at the first two.

Side note; there are a huge amount of photos I wanted to include in this blog and if you're interested they can be found in full at the following link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/uwS7xZBGn87rddeH9

Firstly an update on the challenges I have been doing with Ariana. They are actually on hold right now since we are both busy people with jobs. Plus, ideas for challenges and forfeits are few and far between - suggestions are welcome. We plan to resume the challenges this Saturday with a game of frisbee golf. When I last wrote a blog post I was losing three to nothing in the challenges. I'm pleased to update you that I won both the challenges we did since then and I've made it a little more balanced at three to two. I was able to out-draw her with my beautiful mountain landscape pencil drawing and also I out-talked her (certainly not an easy task! ) in a debate regarding homelessness and hunger. I was rewarded for these victories with a date night organised by Ariana (for winning the art contest) and Ariana wearing whatever clothes I picked for her for a full day (for winning the debate contest). This led to the bizarre purchase of a prom dress, sombrero and a shark fin - all from the same shop and for less than $15!

Just in the past couple days I took a trip out of Queenstown to the bright lights of Dunedin. It's my first time leaving Queenstown since I arrived here back in the beginning of February! Dunedin is a Scottish influenced city located on the East Coast and is the closest proper city to Queenstown. Unfortunately, it's a four hour drive each way... Eight hours of driving for a few hours of sightseeing and a few hours of shopping is pretty brutal and certainly not environmentally friendly but getting out of Queenstown for even a day has been such a blessing. I saw the sea for the first time since Kaikoura. I got the chance to run up the Guinness world record steepest street in the world and I went searching for penguins at the most beautiful beach at sunset. A genuinely lovely escape from Queenstown - something I should do more regularly. It's not necessarily Queenstown that I need to escape from sometimes (I absolutely love Queenstown, it's my favourite place I have ever been to), but more just needing to get out and see somewhere new. A refresh. If I had a car and a license this would be a lot easier to do!

In recent weeks I have introduced a long, challenging run into one of my days off from work as a regular feature. I enjoy these runs the most, and the time to myself in nature running is usually the most stress reducing time I get. I'm obviously no stranger to long runs but to feature them on a regular basis is so nice and excellent training. I will often do anything around 30 to 40 kilometres but I'm probably going to make this more like 30 to 50 kilometres soon. I have run laps of Ben Lomond, explored the roads and hills around Arthur's Point and I have run up Ben Lomond, although failing to reach the 1750m summit due to dangerous conditions (waist high snow that suddenly dropped to chest high snow). I have planned an attempt at a personal best half marathon and then a marathon along one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Don't worry, its not too dangerous on foot - just in a vehicle!

Work has been intense recently. For two weeks it was school holidays and every kiwi in the country decided to visit Queenstown and enjoy the skiing. A struggling hospitality industry has been totally overloaded with unprecedented numbers of people and the hotel where I work was no exception. I went from working 20 hours a week to 60 hours. I won't lie, I'm pleased to have been paid a fat paycheck as a reward but I'd never choose to do this due to effect it has had on my social life and my personal wellbeing. I get home from work and I eat and I go to bed. Or, more often, I get home from work and I eat and I spend a few hours socialising (while very tired and grumpy) before heading to bed late and being worse the next day. Money is not worth being unhappy for. One of absolute strongest beliefs is that no amount of money above the necessary is worth trading for happiness.

Ski season has now started in New Zealand and most of my friends are spending a lot of time up on the slopes enjoying the ski and snowboard fun. It was a sad realisation for me that I just couldn't financially make a ski season work this year, but I've come to be quite content with that since I feel it would effect my running too much anyway. Skiing would be fun for sure but it's also a lot of time, a lot of physical effort and I don't know how I'd manage to fit my running in around it. I adore running more than anyone understands (including myself) and the last thing I ever want to do is sacrifice that. I will one year spend a season on the slopes but I will just have to wait a little longer for that to happen.

From the very first day of 2020 when I split with my partner I knew that 2020 was a year of finding my way back to happiness. It's definitely an overreaction, I know I was still a generally happy person in the first few months of the year but it didn't feel so much like that at the time. As I have mentioned before, the coronavirus lockdown was for me a catalyst for happiness whereas for many people it was a tough time. I look at happiness as almost the only measure of how well I am doing. If something makes me happier, that should be in my life more. If something makes me less happy, I try to reduce my involvement with that. It is rarely that simple however, as I am being reminded currently. Just because you know what will make you happier doesn't mean you can actually have more of it in your life. The bonus consequence of this is that you are actually less happy overall because you're aware of the potential happiness that's out of reach. I have written and rewritten this paragraph multiple times since usually I feel like I am being too dramatic or too #deep. Perhaps this paragraph should be read more like the rambling inner thoughts of some random guy who doesn't claim to know anything more about happiness than the next random person.

I'm not going to promise to be more punctual with my next blog, nor will I promise to talk less about running or happiness. I will however try to make more regular updates when significant events happen. Enjoy the photos.
Skyline luge at sunset
The sun never gets to Arrowtown in the winter as it hides behind the mountains
Moonlight track beginnings on the Moke Lake side
The newest boy band on the block
Ariana and me on date night
Ben Lomond punching through the clouds
Looking down on Queenstown from the Ben Lomond saddle
Dunedin looking all Scottish!
An incredible road heading up the coast from Dunedin right up alongside the sea
Aramoana Beach at sunset, unfortunately no penguins