After a breathtaking view at the peak of the Wineglass Bay lookout, I begun the trek down. I thought the most memorable moment of the day would be the fact that I hiked for 1.5 hours (context: I’m grew up avoiding hiking at all costs and am only recently learning how to appreciate nature after living in NYC for 5.5 years).
Somewhere in the middle of my walk down, I heard a Chinese tourist say in Mandarin:
‘Where are the squirrels?‘
It’s a valid question in the sense that: usually when you hike or encounter nature, you’ll see squirrels. Squirrels are the pigeons of wild nature – they are everywhere. There’s a Twitter thread on the variety of squirrels which just shows how common squirrels are. Also, squirrels are cute and I understand why you’d want to spot them on your hike. (I just don’t really understand why you’d want to feed them.)
But it’s a terrible question because:
Lady, why would you go all the way to Tasmania to see squirrels?
Australia is notorious for its strict biosecurity laws that protect and preserve the local animals and plants, which allows for uniquely Australian animals like koalas, kangaroos etc. to not be threatened and contaminated by non-Australian flora and fauna. Plus, Tasmania’s way stricter because it’s basically a mini-Australia.
Besides, on that same hike, my parents saw a wild wallaby and I saw a wild snake. Who needs Squirrels? #TassieStyle
But the wild animal spotting was soon forgotten as we left for lunch. We chanced upon the Freycinet Marine Farm on the way out of the park and my family has a saying: we only do the ‘see-food’ diet. So we thought: why not?
The saying is extra true when it’s seafood in front of us. My parents and I were in seafood heaven. I think I ate like 20 mussels. Who cared about squirrels when I had beautifully steamed fresh mussels?
The day was already pretty epic, but then I tried escargots for the first time. My takeaway from eating escargots is: I finally can say I’ve had escargots.
After all, my expectations of French cuisine are always low. I find French food rather bland and stringent in comparison to the melodious cacophony of Asian cuisines. Furthermore, French restaurants tend to be haughty and faux-elite, especially to people who don’t look white. And I was having French food in the middle-of-nowhere St. Helens, which is in the middle-of-nowhere Tasmania.
Furneaux blew me away.
The appetizers (which included my escargot) and entree were delicious. However, the best moment of this day was the dessert accompanied by the company.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents are great dinner companions. It was just an extra honour to spend time with the chefs, Jonathan and Stefan, came out of the kitchen to chat with us as we ate delectable desserts.
It’s one thing to be treated to a feast as a guest, but a whole other experience to be welcomed as family to a fancy dinner table.
And we got to know about Jonathan and Stefan’s crazy life stories. From hearing about their time at Domino’s (pizza drone delivery is a reality), to giving advice on business plans in St. Helen’s (this is mainly my dad’s doing), to Jonathan’s career journey (which I’m saving for a future blog post for sure) – the dessert was sweet, but the best treat of life is people and their stories.
In that moment, I wondered:
God could’ve let us just enjoy heaven and eternity, but perhaps He let us do life, in all its broken ups and downs, as a gift.
I feel Jesus nodding; I feel like Jesus did life because life was worth creating and living. Though He went through a lot of crap like dying on a cross, I’d like to think He enjoyed it because of how unexpected, surprising and wonderful life simply is.
During our chat with Jonathan and Stefan, we talked about one of the two bad reviews of their restaurant. It was written by a Taiwanese couple who expected a French restaurant to have ‘staples’ like rice and noodles or else they wouldn’t feel full after a meal. They were also shocked/disappointed for when they ordered ‘sweet bread.’ They did not realise it was cow’s cheek.
I said: “It’s just like the squirrel moment!”
Sometimes we ask where are the squirrels because we expect squirrels. After all, how do you ask where is the wallaby if you don’t know what a wallaby is?
Maybe we ought to ask fewer questions, keep our mouth closed but keep every other part of us open to new possibilities.
When we speak less and expect less, we have a larger capacity to listen, to think, to take in, to inhale, to remember, to be in the beautiful life moments.
Open up to the unexpected, because Jesus never had really had a plan (He didn’t have GCal or cute bullet planners). Yet without expectations of what the day could bring, He experienced epic stories and miracles through sharing food, meeting new people as they are, and listening to their stories.
Stop expecting squirrels and ‘staples.’
There are wallabies (and wombats, and echidnas!), and down-to-earth French restaurants, and pizza delivery drones, and buckets of mussels, and so much more out there beyond what you know to expect – you just don’t know about them yet!