|Photo: Chris Surette|
It's 12:30 and I'm sitting in the McDonald's parking lot on Portland Street somewhere in Nova Scotia, overshadowed by a pair of golden arches punctuated by a diminutive red maple leaf. It's my first birthday in another country and my first without either my family or my best friends by my side.
To call Canada another country may be laughable to those who hail from America. We tend to look at the country as a wild extension of our own; a more expansive (and colder) America. But when you are here, learning your way around and attempting to get used to the little details that manifest themselves only to those spending the day-in/day-out in a new culture, Canada certainly is its own country. Traffic lights flash brazenly, confusing the heck out of the unsuspecting American, coins are called funny names, words are given strange accents for no reason whatsoever, and the people... well, the people are uncommonly kind.
Coming to Canada for the month of December, a time that is usually spent with family or at least slopeside, was a big jump for me. I didn't really know what to expect, how I was going to spend my time, or if I would even like it here beyond a week. My birthday is usually spent skiing, something I've done nearly every birthday for over a third of my life, and although I'm not exactly what some may call a creature of habit, that particular routine put sparks in my heart no matter how many times it was repeated.
So why change it up?
It may not be a secret that 2012 has been less than idyllic in many ways for me. However, I've never been one to jump all over an entire week or month, let alone an entire year and throw it under the bus. So, in accordance with the Equal Happiness Opportunity act, which I just passed and ratified (being the supreme ruler of my life), I will be fair and allow that along with the harsh came some pretty incredible "happy"— and that happy came because of hard work and giant leaps of hopefulness.
Those leaps paid off and accordingly, I learned to take chances. So in November, when I was considering the next step following the loss of my job, thoughts were rapidly drawn to a risk. I knew the last thing I needed to do to get a move on in life was to sit in stagnation in a place where I was comfortable. This almost always leads to hashing it out with myself, for far too long, on the actions of the past. Pretty much a foolproof way to stay exactly as-is.
Not my cup o' tea.
Not my cup o' tea.
I don't mean to say that I don't value stability and having a home base. I do. I think it is a big part of my life that is missing and frankly, I believe it would make me a better person. But even incorporating those elements in, there's no time in life for standing still — and those elements are no excuse not to take leaps. It could be as simple as going solo to the ski hill or cracking the ice with a person that always seemed interesting from afar.
Though I've used the phrase in the past, today, on my birthday, I officially deem the next 365 days' motto to be "Go conquer." This year will be marked with memories that are meaningful and rich. Just like the good that took place in 2012 happened because of hard work and optimism, the same will be true for the things that will unfold this year. The days ahead will be full of incredible.