As a life coach, I am always asking people to leap for their dreams. They do it and their lives are changed so I feel compelled to do the same. One dream was to get a University education. Last June, after 10 years I graduated from York University with a BA in Social Sciences. I was 53 and ready at that moment to go for another dream, one that had been with me since I was a child. I wanted to explore Canada, the geography, the people and the cultures that make it up. It was a good time to do it. My children had all left home, everyone I cared about was healthy and my relationship with my husband of 33 years, Fred, was in a terrific space. Except for finances, it seemed that everything was aligned. I began to make plans.
The trip has become my mission. It is not something I can explain well. I am planning to spend 5-7 days crossing the country to Port Hardy in B.C. and then begin a leisurely visit to every community in Canada. I want to immerse myself into their cultures, meeting their ordinary people, their artists and their elders to find out where they fit into this country of ours.
I knew there would be elements of the trip that would be difficult. Managing with an old car and little cash worries me. Driving into a strange community, tired after a long day on the road, not knowing a soul and needing a bed for the night seems unimaginable. Fear is a natural part of the unknown but I wasn’t prepared for the depth of emotional difficulty I would have just getting ready to leave.
I started looking at maps. I envisioned myself going from sea to sea to sea. I would start at the north west tip of Vancouver Island, drive down the island, up the coastal main land, down the interior of BC and cover the country like that, north to south and south to north with an eastern lean. I would couch surf and meet everyone. I would find out what it really means to be Canadian. I got it on paper. I set a date, May 11.
And that’s when things got hard. I think it was the date. A trip to be taken sometime is one thing. A trip to be taken May 11, especially as spring races towards us, is something else again. It is real. My daughter was first. “You won’t really be gone when the baby is born will you? You’ll miss his infant months.”
Then a friend phoned, “I’m so excited for you, the trip sounds so wonderful. Don’t go! I’ll miss you too much.”
And then my husband, told me at the beginning that although he didn’t really understand my urge to go, he did think that I needed to go for myself, told me last night that he didn’t want me to go.
“I didn’t realize you meant for so long, or so far. I don’t want you to go.”
I was awake long after he went to sleep. I stared at the black room. I realized I don’t want to go either. My life has never been better. My business is thriving. My relationship with my husband is where I want it, my kids are launched and my grandkids are growing. What am I doing? Where are those voices coming from? I have wanted this trip for years. Some days it was all that kept me going from one chore to another, the knowledge that I would see ALL of Canada, not just the southern fringe but all of it.
My last few weeks, as the leaving date gets closer have been like that, a back and forth conversation between the Jekyll and Hyde sides of myself. Jekyll, excited, over the top, planning and moving and Hyde, settled, happy, who can see no reason for this to happen. Both responses make sense. Both seem equally true. This is making my life HARD.
Maybe I should have gone when I was 17. It wouldn’t have been this hard when I was young and dying to stick my thumb out to hitch the country. I say that now but the reason I didn’t was because it was just as hard, harder. I was scared and settling down with the man of my dreams seemed easier. It was scary too but not that scary.
My mind turns to sea captains and explorers. Men who jump on ships and head off the very edge of the earth, leaving friends and family behind. For what? No women did that. Would this be easier if I was a man? Would it be easier if it had a logical purpose? If I was an executive going away on a project for 2 years, sending home money? I can’t say, but maybe.
I got up in the morning a bit bleary. I did a mental check, had I talked myself out of the trip? Nope. I just have some new understandings. I went out to buy a satellite radio and the woman behind the counter lit up as I told her why I need it. “Please take me,” she begged and then she laughed. “You are living my dream.” She gaves me her email address. “Please let me know how it is going.” I will.
Six weeks before my leaving date, my new grandchild is still not born. I have days, hours, moments, when I wonder what I am doing but I have other days, moments and hours of great excitement and exhilaration. I am going on my quest across Canada. I am going to meet the people who connect this country and make it what it is. I am going to do something that I have dreamed about for years and I am scared. I would probably be crazy if I wasn’t feeling a trembly at the thought. I am allowed to.
As I plan, I find it hard. How can I imagine what will happen on the road. To be true to my original dream, I am leaving here with only enough money to buy gas on the way there. The rest, I believe, will be provided. I will meet people who will invite me to stay or I will camp. I will write and speak about following a dream, the ups and the downs, the dragons and the joys. I trust that not only will this enrich my life but also the lives of those I meet.
Will the journey be what I expect it to be? It is hard to say. I don’t know. Will I be scared? Probably but maybe not as scared as I am right now. This is the culmination of a life’s worth of dreams and I hope that when I grow up I will be able to tell my grandchildren that if they can dream and believe in themselves, they can follow their road on any journey that they can conceive.
— By Vicki Pinkerton
This work was written just before I left in May. On July 21 I have seen all (or as much as possible) of Vancouver Island and am now making my way up the interior of BC toward the Yukon, Inuvik and the Arctic Ocean. I am still scared, still questioning but having a blast. For more information about Vicki’s quest and how you can help go to www.questacrosscanada.com
Don’t be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.
LifeLines Creative Life Coaching
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Vicki is a creative life coach, freelance writer and public speaker who believes that we are all connected and that magic will give us everything we need. For more information on her journey go to www.questacrosscanada.com