Growing up in Guelph, Ontario, a city just south of Toronto, I was never really able to associate travel with life.  I had friends, school, family, etc., but life did not lend itself well to anywhere further than the outskirts of my hometown.  Like most kids, I had a bike as a main mode of transpiration…so distance traveled was always calculated by how far the “return trip” was.  The idea of venturing beyond any boundary was thrilling until we were reminded that was goes out, must come back.  Alas, we stuck to the bike trails close by and enjoyed what we could with what we had.  And that was what our travel entailed–how far our legs could carry us on two wheels.

As I progressed through high school, life got a little harder.  Family life wasn’t great and dealing with that spilled out over everything else.  It was tough, no doubt, but what was interesting is that through such tribulations I developed a need to “get out there” and see/do more.  I didn’t know how, where, what, but I did know the why…and that was; I knew there was more–more to life, more to see, more to experience.  Don’t get me wrong; there were parts of life at that time that were worth dying for…like friends that stood by through thick and thin.  But I knew that wasn’t enough to keep me put.  I knew there was more beyond the confines of city limits.

Years went by, friends came and went, family life continued to be crappy, and yet still motionless, still trapped. Trapped by what? My lack of confidence, lack of adventure, I was missing the willingness to step out and not worry about what I might miss.  I felt like I was 5 years old, stuck in a big mud puddle, gumboots locked in with no where to go.  I needed a way out, a one-way ticket to the life I was longing for.  But I just couldn’t.

When I turned 19, high school was over and my time was filled with managing a clothing store at the mall.  Life hadn’t really changed, only that I was in a mall and not an educational institute.  Some friends had moved on to post secondary (locally and abroad), some got jobs, and some just disappeared.  Life just seemed to “move along”, nothing fancy.  But everything inside me continued battling to get out, to go see, to truly live.  However, every morning I would “open up shop”, fold clothing, fit people, and earn a paycheck–enduring the so-called “normal life” that I had accepted.

I remember conversations in high school with a dear friend of mine, spraying about one day going to the magical land of British Columbia.  For some reason B.C had embodied a persona of “the untouchable place”.  As if it only existed in fairytales.  So the conversations were always filled with the “yeah rights” and the sarcastic “good lucks”.  But deep inside there was something about this superlative place that I couldn’t let go of.  Deep down, there was a glimmer of hope, a-kind-of motivation driven by those who would say “no way”, that someday I could get there, that I could truly explore a life I felt I was faithfully destined for.

It was 8:30pm, just a few minutes before it was time to close the store.  The timely announcement over the P.A system that echoed the halls of the mall reminded all staff that it was nearing the time to lock the doors.  One of the general duties before closing time was to take the garbage out.  I was the manager so of course I would delegate that oh-so-exciting job to one of the “unfortunates” (as I would call the staff under me).   Minutes later, an animated staff returned from the lucky garbage duty grinning from ear to ear. He could barely put his words together from such excitement.  All I could make out was that there was a girl in the store next to us and he wanted to ask her out.  Well, after some-what calming down he hid from the idea of approaching her…and so I proceeded on his behalf to play matchmaker.

Two weeks had gone by and things were going perfectly between my new girlfriend and I.  Unfortunately for the “unfortunate”, when I had approached the “girl next door”, I ended up asking her out for myself…and that was that.  Unlucky.  Anyways, things were going great and all was pretty darn good…until she told me that she was moving away…in a week.  My jaw dropped.  Why when life was going pretty good did there have to be a wrench thrown in.  I couldn’t believe it.  Instantly I was mad, sad, disappointed, heart broken even.  And that’s when it happened; “I have to move back to B.C to help my family.”  My heart began to race faster than lightning striking.  I couldn’t speak, but only stared.  My eyes filled with tears.  She began to smile and before even getting the question out, it was mutually confirmed that we were both going to British Columbia.  My ultimate dream, my deep desire to venture out, to explore whom I was destined to be…there it was…my ticket to purpose, sitting there in front of me.  After waiting for so long…I had always believed.

I’m siting on an airplane right now, returning home from a week of travel.  Since moving to BC I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to explore the globe.  Whether in pursuit of being a professional climber–flying around the world, driving and living in my van…across provinces, states, and countries, backpacking with my wife and daughters, or business trips for my design company, my dreams of travel have turned into a reality.  It wasn’t necessarily BC that enabled me to truly “be”, but more so the adventure of stepping out into a land of vulnerability…and embracing it.  I used to cower in the eye of adversity, hiding from the Goliaths’ in life.  But what I’ve begun to realize–is that sometimes, just sometimes, when we summon the will to pick up a couple of rocks and wheel them at the face of danger, we enable ourselves to charge on with a courageous fight like no other.   And that’s when dreams become reality.

The girl from the mall has since become a memory, and clearly no…we weren’t destined to stay together, but to this very day I’m still ever so grateful for all that she was and I’m sure still is.  In this lifetime I believe there’s a plan.  I also believe that perhaps not always the plan is clear…but through lack of clarity, some things are clear…that certain instances, experiences, people, places, they’re all part of it, part of the mastery to which our existence dwells upon.

Currently, and for the last 12-ish years I’ve lived a life in BC, pursuing everything I used to dream of, and continue to do so along side my wife and kids, friends and family.  Dreams certainly are attainable if you go after them.  You just need to believe.  And must I say, thank you to all those who still believe in me.