Wednesday, July 06, 2016


Below me, the roar of traffic is constant. It is unlike any place I've ever lived. Twenty stories above the street and it feels like I am on a ship on the ocean. Although where it is going, I am uncertain. The only certainty of my home is the newness of it all.

A new journey.

A new life.

A new direction.

This worries me less than I thought it would. Displacement is difficult because change is difficult, which is what makes moving so traumatic. And in my case, it isn't the only significant change.

There are people who love change, embrace it, seek it out even. But they are rare, and I am not one of them. I much prefer status quo, with perhaps the odd "challenge."

This is not that.

For most of us, change of this magnitude creates fear. What will happen? How will I get through this? How did I get here? The list of questions is as endless as the sea, because the inevitable impact of change is just that: questions. Self examination. World examination. Life examination. Everything we have ever believed is under scrutiny, and it is here where change becomes extremely valuable. It gives us a chance to re-examine everything, because the world not only seems different, it is entirely unrecognizable. And in this strange new place we have the opportunity to see ourselves with new eyes. Is it challenging? Yes. But it can also be rewarding, if only we have the courage to see ourselves through a different looking glass.


I have, for the past few months, desperately tried to figure out how my life went from "there" to "here." I am still without answers. Oh, I could detail what happened, but I still don't understand it. Not fully. Listening to the roar of traffic still makes me feel like I am drifting out to sea. And so I wonder. Where am I headed? Am I moving in the right direction? Am I open to the inner work that needs to be done?

I pause and glance up at the sky. Clouds have moved in. The balcony faces east, and so even on the brightest of days, the sun is gone by mid-morning. On this day, a typically hot summer Toronto afternoon, I am grateful for the relief. It is still odd to write with so much movement and noise below me, with the continual awareness of so many people heading in so many directions. I try to reassure myself: I, too, am headed somewhere. Even if my steps are a bit slower than they once were.

But I am still overwhelmed. That much is clear. Every day I add a piece or two to the puzzle that is now my life, and slowly, achingly so at times, I am beginning to see a new portrait. It is difficult not to rush things. To throw the pieces together however they fit and force them together.

It doesn't work that way.

It's not supposed to work that way.

As much as I do not like to wait, times like this -- and we all go through them -- are necessary to create the lives we want to lead going forward. It gives us a chance to breathe, to remember our dreams, to remember the things that excited us about the future.

It can be difficult to accept, but that future is still there. Even in the midst of turmoil, it breathes inside of us, waiting for a chance to speak, waiting for a chance to remind us why we're here and the joys of life yet available to us.

I do not write those words in a vacuum. I can tell you what it means to be in pain. I can tell you what it means to feel trapped in a joyless existence. I can tell you what it means to live your life based on the next thirty minutes.

I can tell you that, but there comes a time when explanation is redundant.

We do not need comprehension.

What we need is hope.

Two years ago I saw the ocean on the sandy shores on the East Coast. It was winter, the beach abandoned, the water cold. I thought it would just be another body of water. It was not. I was shocked to find myself experiencing something entirely different.

The waves were gentle enough, but there was a distinct sound to them, an endlessness that was difficult for me to fathom. I remember thinking, 'this is not a lake. This is nothing like a lake.'

On the edge of the ocean, my mind was drawn to many things. Its power. Its endlessness. Its eternal nature. And for those moments, I felt small in a way that I'd never known.

Not belittled.

Not less.

Just small.

As if I finally realized what it meant to be human.


We are all shaped by vast sources that we can hardly fathom. Regardless of our life, or the dramatic changes within it, we are a speck next to the ocean. We are human. Part of something much greater than ourselves. An important part, to be sure, but just a part. What seem like mountains to us are nothing within the scope of those parameters. And when we overestimate the size and complexity of our lives, we lose perspective on how easily we can find happiness again.

We are not mountains. Or glaciers. Or oceans.

We are human. And we exist to create change in the ones around us by changing ourselves. By accepting all that happens in our life as a by-product of living. And by understanding how and why we these changes have occurred and what we can do to create an even larger impact on the world around us.

Change makes us vulnerable. It asks us to stand in front of the ocean and acknowledge that we are are mortal. It teaches us that we know much less than realize.

I look down at the traffic below me. Can I do that? Can I look at myself through the ocean's mirror and see what needs to be done? Can I raise my sail and trust that I will move in the right direction, even if I do not understand all that is happening? Can I lay aside my need for control, my need for an inflated sense of importance, to do what needs to be done?

These are the questions we need to answer. The ones I need to answer.

I do not know how I am going to respond. But I'm listening.