The night before we left Australia Jillsy aka Gam Gam read us all a book she had found for the kids titled “What do you do with a chance?”, a beautifully written children’s book by Kobi Yamada. The story is about the amazing things that can happen when you take a chance and have the courage to say yes to new experiences.
Wandering around a second hand bookstore in Canmore, Aubrey excitedly called my name, running toward me holding up a copy of the book. She was amazed to have found Gam Gam’s book hidden amongst the shelves of a bookstore on the other side of the world. I explained to her that this was the magic of secondhand bookshops. You go in not to find a book but for a book to find you!
It’s so easy to dream and talk about one day taking the kids on an adventure (or any sort of leap be it a new job or opportunity) and it certainly would have been easy to spend the 12 months prior to leaving doing something else rather than researching, packing and budgeting for this trip. It would have been easy to say let’s stay home as it’s too expensive, too cold or too hard to travel with kids.
But if we didn’t take the chance and the opportunity to board that plane, we would have forsaken the memories, the amazing experiences, the life long friendships and the important lesson that so much is waiting for us just outside our comfort zone. Watching Aubrey drive a dogsled team, hearing Lionel squeal with joy as he tobogganed down slopes in Jasper (even him trying to say the word “tobogganing”) and Adam fishing on frozen lakes will be something I will never forget. Nor the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment that we were able to provide these experiences to our children and had the courage to do it.
Embarking on a leap of faith 13 odd years ago, I arrived in Canada aboard a one way flight with nothing more than a backpack. Within a couple of months I had found work, made a home and when leaving 12 months later I had become a member of a community, with friendships made that have lasted both time and distance.
As we drove off from Pincher Creek this morning we all experienced the heartbreak of travel. The connections you make with people, the places, the memories. For me the reality of the final hugs and goodbyes from dear friends some of whom I will never see again, breaks me down into sobs. Holding Aubrey’s hand as we drive away she is equally upset both for leaving and for wanting to go home, we explain that this is what travel is about. Its one of the most amazing, rewarding and adventurous things you can do but at the same time also the most crushing and heartbreaking. The pain felt of leaving a piece of your heart in the places you roam is the price you pay for the richness you gain for loving and knowing people in more than one place. As we turned onto the 507 highway driving East I watched from the back window of our rental car the Rocky Mountains that had lived in my memories for so long until they disappeared from view.
I am lucky to have experienced this breathtaking part of world in all seasons and to have met the wonderful people that inhabit this corner of the globe but truely blessed to have been here again to share it with those I love the most.
Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind. ~ Anthony Bourdain