Archive for November, 2012


Learning to Love Again

When that inevitable final chapter of a journey begins, it can be greeted with both sadness and relief. For those of us who have made travel a way of life, coming home can be a bittersweet affair. The joy of seeing the loved ones we’ve missed, mixed with the realization that friends have settled down, gotten hitched and have began to behave like adults in our absence. We find ourselves missing the open road where our days were counted by miles conquered, real estate endeavors consisted of finding the cheapest lodging for the night and the question “just what are you doing with your life?” never seemed to arise.

I have always had a tenuous relationship with my home town of Toronto. There were many things I loved about the city, the multiculturalism, the cool bars and restaurants, the live music scene and above all, the fact that my family and many of dearest friends were here. But travel made me begin to question my bond with Toronto. Was this the place I saw myself living permanently? With so many amazing places I felt drawn to explore, Toronto became my stop-over base where I could recoup, regroup mentally and replenish my bank account between trips and not much more.

I recently returned home after a year of working abroad and traveling the great land of Australia. Coming home felt different this time around. The usual bout of vagabond withdrawal and mild depression which generally followed time spent away never manifested itself. I felt content and decided to stop being a cynic of “my” city and embrace it wholeheartedly. Maybe even learn to love it? Perhaps my new acceptance reflected some deeper understanding that I had been running from something which I had somehow comes to terms with? Or maybe I just needed to stop being a “whinging” (Aussie for complaining) b****.

As travelers, we pride ourselves on being open-minded and embracing different people and places, yet it was so hard for me to openly embrace my own city. I’m sure my friends were getting fed up with my tiresome comparisons of Toronto to other cities I’d visited and pointing out what I though it was lacking. Yea Berlin has the coolest underground bar scene and Melbourne’s live Indie rock is second to none, so what? Where else can you bargain shop in China town, lunch on an authentic Greek gyro on the Danforth, enjoy an evening stroll through little Portugal and wine and dine in true Italian fashion in Little Italy, not to mention find a secluded beach minutes from the downtown core on Toronto Island? Maybe I’ve grown up or maybe after seeing so many places I can finally appreciate my own. My travels are far from over but coming “home” no longer carries with it the usual sense of foreboding. I guess what I’m trying to say is, yes, I love you Toronto.

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Joker Hill, Aurora, OntarioWhenever life gets tedious and boring there’s a little voice that urges me to pack up and get out while I still can. While listening to this voice has led me on some unforgettable adventures, my impulsive travel decisions are not without consequence. Being 28 and essentially penniless, living back at my parents place after a year-long stint in Australia and New Zealand has forced me to take a long hard look at my life and has forced me to face the possibility that it was time to get serious about life. But what does that even mean?

For much of my adult life I floated in a fairly happy state of contentment, I finished school, got a decent job and had a nice boyfriend. After the demise of my long-term relationship I began to question if the life I was living was fulfilling and what direction I was going to take next. Travel offered everything I felt my so-called-life lacked. I was on my own, meeting new people, having fun-filled and crazy misadventures. I finally had stories I felt were worth telling. Being homeless in Barcelona and living in a communal apartment with a bunch of Australian hedonists, sleeping on beaches, volunteering to save turtles in Guatemala, working in 46 degree heat on a vineyard in Western Australia, these were adventures I had longed for and I couldn’t get enough. It took some time to realize that whatever void I was trying to fill was still gaping up at me. Now don’t get me wrong, I saw and experienced many amazing things and grew as a person in many ways, but I was waiting for travel to give me something that I felt I lacked.

I recently watched the film ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ which tells the story of a middle-aged woman who is on a journey to “find herself” through cultural indulgence, spirituality and finally, the love of a man. Now for those of us more based in reality, the road to self-fulfillment isn’t quite so smooth and is often littered with confusion, loneliness and self-doubt. I guess the big picture I was missing was that you can’t find something that isn’t lost. I think the wise old Dalai Lama said it best “Right now, at this moment, we have a mind, which is all the basic equipment we need to achieve complete happiness”, although he was referring to monetary gains, fame and success, I think world travel can sometimes fall under this scope as well as we are always looking for the next trip, the next adventure to bring us happiness. I feel I need to point out that I feel at my best when I travel. The intrinsic rewards of learning about other cultures and meeting wise world travelers is unparalleled to anything money can buy in my opinion, however the danger of travel to avoid facing myself was a real danger to me and one that I’m still battling with. Here is my conclusion: Self-honesty is the key. Knowing yourself well enough to know when to forge ahead and when to turn back, when to let down the sails and when to let your roots set. That being said, I’ll be sending all my love from wherever it is I end upl.