In Flight Magazine - - IN THIS ISSUE - Nicky Fur­niss

Sev­eral weeks ago, I had the priv­i­lege of dog-sit­ting two minia­ture schnau­zer pup­pies for a friend of mine who was go­ing away. Con­fronted with the thought of hav­ing two lit­tle fluff balls to play and snug­gle with for a week – who would say no?

As ex­pected, we had a won­der­ful week to­gether. We went for long walks in the park, say­ing hello and sniff­ing more dogs than I can remember (that is, the pup­pies were do­ing the sniff­ing, not me). We played with squeaky toys, we munched on bil­tong (their mum was very gen­er­ous with the snacks she left be­hind), and at night we all snug­gled in bed and woke up each morn­ing in a furry cuddle pud­dle, a highly rec­om­mended way to wake up on chilly win­ter morn­ings!

As well as hav­ing all the furry, lick­ing, ex­u­ber­ant ben­e­fits of two very en­thu­si­as­tic pup­pies, I also jumped at the chance of hav­ing a large house all to my­self for seven days. I love my lit­tle house, but it is snug. I thought it would be heav­enly to have some space to roam around in, as well as the lux­ury of be­ing able to choose be­tween mul­ti­ple bed­rooms to sleep in and three show­ers in which to sing.

My first night in the house felt a lit­tle odd.To be ex­pected, I thought, as I was still set­tling in. But then the sec­ond night rolled around, and the third, and I still felt un­easy in the house (de­spite rap­tur­ous yap­ping wel­comes from the pups ev­ery time I came home from work).

In­stead of lux­u­ri­at­ing in the airy lounge or even en­joy­ing a glass of wine on the pa­tio while the pup­pies played, I quickly made din­ner, locked up down­stairs and set­tled my­self and the dog­gies in my bed­room up­stairs with a book for com­pany. Some­how, only when the door was closed and we were all en­sconced in­side, did things feel “right”.

What a waste of a beau­ti­ful big house, I kept telling my­self, but af­ter three days it fi­nally struck me – I am a gold­fish!

When we were at school we were told that gold­fish only grow as big as the bowl or tank they are in al­lows. It’s quite in­ge­nious re­ally, be­cause that way there’s never any chance that they’ll out­grow their digs.

And now, it seems, while I haven’t phys­i­cally grown to fit the size of my lit­tle house, men­tally I have. I have got used to its cosy rooms and eco­nom­i­cal use of space, and its snug­ger “fit” has come to feel like home. In a way, that makes me re­ally happy. I can’t help feel­ing that a lot of what is wrong with the world is its ram­pant con­sumerism and the need for peo­ple to ac­quire more and more things and take up more and more space.

Over the years, I have come to re­alise that the fewer things you have, the less you have to worry about. I have also come to re­alise that we don’t ac­tu­ally need a lot of the “stuff ” we ac­cu­mu­late.

What we do need though – at least I do – is big skies. When I was liv­ing in Ja­pan, I came to un­der­stand the won­der­ful gift we have in this coun­try of BIG skies. Wide open spa­ces, huge hori­zons and the room to breathe. With this comes the urge to ex­plore and the per­pet­ual feel­ing that there is al­ways some­thing out there to dis­cover.

We are so lucky liv­ing here to have so much space! Now, if only, we could all move to­wards the mind­set of re­duc­ing the amount of space we each take up, or ob­ses­sively want to own, and in­stead revel in the beau­ti­ful open spa­ces we can all ex­plore. I think there’d be a whole lot of much hap­pier South African gold­fish if that were the case.

Happy big sky dis­cov­er­ies!

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