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Some Moments

There are some moments that you know are going to change everything, forever.

(Actually, I rather think that everything changes everything else forever, but if we knew that, if we felt it in our very bones, we’d never do anything or go anywhere; because sometimes we don’t want change, so who would go grab their morning coffee at the local if they knew it was going to change everything? And yet every choice changes our path, even if just a little, even if it’s in ways we can’t fathom or imagine).

What I’m saying is…sometimes there are moments you know, in your very marrow, that are going to change everything. Forever. In ways you can’t see or imagine or comprehend or predict. As if you had been stood on a railway turntable, turning round and round, seeing all the choices, and then — click — you slotted yourself into place. You chose the new path and in that moment, that infinitesimal, fleeting moment between when your mind knows it has decided and when you act upon the decision, the whole universe expands with the unimaginable consequences of your decision and your heart swells with all the fear and delicious joy and apprehension of knowing that you have no idea how much your life is about to change because you chose one path over the other. And sometimes, in a heartbeat, you know you can never go back. The die are cast, the three sisters have snipped the thread and you have shifted the whole course of your life for better, or for worse.

That moment. That moment.

I just had one of those moments. With a few clicks of the mouse, I accepted an offer to attend a new university to commence a new degree. Everything has changed. I have stopped my turntable and my feet point in one direction. I have no idea what new experiences are coming my way. I have no idea where this new path will take me or whose path I have set myself up to cross. I have no idea what joy and what grief I have positioned myself to meet. All I know is that I have changed all the rest of my life tonight.

Some moments change everything. I’m crossing my fingers for something spectacular.

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All this is for you.

It’s been a rough few years. I feel worn & torn, exhausted by dealing with blow after blow.

I think of myself as an optimistic, happy person. And yet the past few years have worn at me, like the constant flow of water that wears down a rock. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve believed in what I was doing or where I was going, and there have been so many loads to carry. I feel more lost than ever (and for me, that’s saying something), I am confused, I am weary. Yet here I am, still carrying around the notion that I really am an optimistic person.

Somewhere, maybe, there’s a path with my name on it. I’m setting out, again (returning to school–whew!). I’m not sure it’s the right decision. It’s a big investment of time and money. I don’t know that it’s right, but I’m going to try. I have to try something. When you’re growing up, and you get lost…well, you remember your parent’s advice, right? “If you get lost, just stand still…and I’ll come and find you”. But I’m not a child anymore, and what I want from life isn’t coming to find me. There is no one who is going to find me and set me on the right path. It’s my turn now. It’s my turn to explore. I’m lost, but I know that standing still isn’t going to help me find my way.

As I write I can tell that (since I haven’t written in a long time) there are so many thoughts I’d like to share. About how now is not then, even though it sure feels that way. About how I feel about going to do undergraduate work…8 years after I first went to university. About the pain of feeling stuck and like I’ve been standing still. About grief and loss. About vulnerability.

It has been a rough few years. I feel worn & torn…and yet here I stand, with more vulnerability and gratitude than ever before. There is so much to experience. So much wonder. I’m just looking for a way to it. So let me leave you with an image I stumbled across today.

Image

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WWW – Dolomites, Italy

One of my oldest and dearest friends is spending some time in Milan, Italy. Just the other weekend he visited Venice. Now, I’ve never been to Italy, but let me tell you: it’s high up on my list!

So, since it’s been on my mind, please enjoy the view of Carezza Lake, Dolomites, Italy.

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Carezza Lake, Dolomites, Italy

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WWW – Norway. Yes, again. I mean seriously.

Who would have thought? Norway again. It’s one of those places that I never really heard much about (from the travel-standpoint), but I am slowly discovering is full of beauty.

But heck, ain’t that true for every corner of our world?

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Preikestolen, Norway.

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Thoughts for Thursdays – Turkish Proverb

I wrote recently about the idea of allowing ourselves to change our minds. I am one of those people who is normally obstinate/foolish/pigheaded/blinkered enough to stick to a decision just because. I do it also because I’m a little nervous about being seen to change my mind. I have come to realize that these are poor excuses to fail to admit a mistake, learn from it, and then make a change for the better.

So this Turkish proverb made me pause when I saw it. I am the kind of person who would doggedly, and foolishly, just keep going. Obviously I’m not the only one, or such wisdom as this never would have been distilled into a cultural proverb. So, for your consideration:

It reminds me of another quote I saw not so long ago, which also embodies this wisdom: “If you are digging a hole in the wrong place, digging it deeper isn’t going to help”.

It seems like such simple logic. But I know that I have walked too far down many wrong paths because I thought turning back would be such a pain: it can be difficult to let go of what we thought was the right choice, it can be difficult to face up to knowing that we spent too long and too much effort on something that has gone wrong, it can be daunting to give up all that effort and time and choose a new path, or a new place for a hole. Imagine choosing the wrong university program and getting two years into it and realizing it’s the wrong road? Imagine marrying someone and realizing that you want irreconcilable things? Imagine moving to a new city for a new job, and realizing neither are a good fit for you? Imagine fighting with someone you love, staunchly defending your position until you’ve opened up a gulf between you and then realizing either that you were wrong, or that it’s not worth sacrificing the relationship? Imagine calling an end to an important relationship, only to realize you still love and need and respect this person? These are not such unimaginable scenarios. Turning back can seem embarrassing and daunting and shameful, to admit the mistake, and to start again…terrifying.

And yet…no matter how far you have gone down the wrong road, turn back. Because if it’s the wrong road, there is no sense in going any further. It takes a certain courage to realize it is the wrong road. It takes a certain courage to turn back. It takes a certain courage to choose another road.

Do it. Then, if on another day you find yourself on another wrong road…it won’t seem so daunting to turn back. You will probably realize it sooner. And, armed with new courage from knowing you’ve done it before, you’ll be able to turn back sooner, and find the right road sooner.

Take a look at the life you have beneath your feet. What roads are you on right now? Are you standing on the wrong road?

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OMEN

N.B.: for maximum impact, scroll down through this post SLOWLY, one line of text at a time, until you’ve hit the third picture.

The ancient Greeks and Romans and Trojans all knew how to read omens. Birds in the sky, snakes on the ground, they all had meanings. I’m not as well versed, so you’ll imagine my surprise when I stumbled across what I felt in my heart to be an omen, while wandering through the arches of a Scottish university on a grey, windy, rainy afternoon.

University of Glasgow

I’ve been trotting around a bunch of British universities lately, trying to decide if one of them is the right place for me to continue my education. Those of you who know me will recall how violently miserable I was at the first university I attended, so you might be able to appreciate my dedication to making sure that this time, I get it right.

This week, I went to Glasgow. I arrived in the city early enough to have a wander around the city centre and then around the campus. The University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest in the English speaking world (after Oxford, Cambridge, and St. Andrew’s) and was founded by a papal bull in 1451.

Tucked up in my Canadian goose-down winter-coat, I wasn’t that cold. But the wind was howling and it was still raining, so when I found this covered series of archways (an open undercroft) dividing the university’s quadrangle, I enjoyed the cover it provided. It wasn’t very well lit, and the afternoon grey, so it was dark and rather atmospheric under there. I love such places, so I moved slowly through it.

The undercroft, rather better lit than when I was there

As I enjoyed the gothic architecture, out of the corner of my eye I saw a plaque on a wall. Often, at universities, these plaques are to Queens who opened buildings, students who sacrificed their lives during the World Wars, or famous researchers who discovered or invented impressive theories and machines. This meant that while I had noticed other plaques on other walls in Glasgow, I hadn’t paused (in the wind and rain) to read any of them. But for some reason I thought to myself that I might as well read this one and linger in the dry a little longer.

When I got close enough to this plaque, I said out loud: “Holy shit. You have got to be kidding me”.

There, in bold stone, was my omen:

All the way in Glasgow, Scotland, my McGillian omen found me

I stared. I laughed. Three and a half thousand miles away, McGill had found me. I stood for a long time in front of that plaque, and thought about my past and my future. I thought about how lonely and miserable I’d been at McGill, and how much I’d learned about myself from that experience. I thought about how I wanted this time around to be different, and how I was trying to choose the right program at the right university to help with that desire. But I was confused.

Was this a waymarker? A gentle smile from the universe, a reminder of where I’d come from and how that miserable experience was serving me now as a bridge into my future?

Or was this a screaming banshee of a warning, telling me to get as far away from the University of Glasgow as possible, protecting me from a repeat performance?

 

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