On Saturday 8 March, 2014, I walked my 8th Papatowai Challenge! 15.5 km of rugged terrain along NZ’s South Otago coastline. I’ve done this walk seven times prior but it’s always a challenge as the name suggests. This year though was different and I put that down to being more blindful.

After writing the list every day for only a month, I’ve started to sit up and take notice of what I smell, hear, taste and touch. As a blind person I’ve done this for nearly 17 years but since doing the daily list, things have changed. Rather than simply using my senses to help me receive information to interpret my world, I am becoming more aware of what I do smell, hear, taste and touch.

Now you may think the senses that may mean the most when doing a walk like this are hearing, smell and touch but it was the taste sensation that really gave me my heavenly moment.

Sure the feel of the pine needles under my feet in the beach forest was lovely, and the sound of the pounding sea at the beach was spectacular. And the mere smell of the kiwi farmlands as we made our way up the big hill was exquisite.

But it was my last sense, my taste that gave me my glimpse of heaven. We had completed the race and congratulated each other when my guide Jo took me over to get a well awaited cup of tea. It’s become a tradition of the Papatowai Challenge to finish the race with cut up saveloys and pikelets with jam and cream. Battling the crowds we made our approach to the saveloy tent where we patiently lined up. Jo suddenly thrust a plastic bowl into my hand where my fingers found a pointing up toothpick. I took hold of the little stick to place the attached saveloy into my mouth. I slowly munched on the hot smoked sausage but then suddenly stopped. A long awaited destination had arrived, and with my mouth full of warmth I had a moment where the world stopped. I had this foreign feeling of intense peace that made me feel like I was now in heaven. Everything had slowed down as I stood there chomping into my saveloy. I felt like I had found my turangawaewae – the place where I stand. The place where I have ever felt most empowered and connected.

It soon passed and before long I was tackling my next challenge, how the hell was I going to eat this bowl of saveloys! Like the walk, I did complete my task but who would have thought a saveloy had the power to take me for a ride to a spiritual moment like never before!

Now for this week’s list –

1 the sound of the gun starting us off on our 15.5km Challenge

2 the feel of the bush floor under my feet as we walked through the beach forest

3 the sound of the pounding waves as we walked along the beach

4 the smell of the sea! Unmistakeable!

5 the feel of the slippy grass underneath my feet

6 the sound of the cheers as we crossed the finish line!

7 the touch of Ron’s cheek as I cuddeled him once I was over the line!

8 the smell of the hot tea as we approached the tent

9 the taste of that wet hot tea!

10 the glorious savour of that saveloy!

I may not see but I can smell

And taste and touch and listen

And when I do this every day

I find my optimism!

Happy Wednesday blind wisdom seekers!