Posted by: seehowfarwevecome | August 25, 2016

Bruises, chandeliers and bringing dusk to my day

It’s been a month since I last found myself in the air, perhaps one of the longest periods of not flying this year. I guess it’s only natural therefore that today I am indeed again at 38,000 feet. There is no work today though; this is a vacation. I am bound for Calgary, Alberta with my sister Louisa, for a few days in the Rockies before we hit the West Coast and explore Vancouver and reconnect with Fi, who last joined me on my East Coast Canadian adventure in 2011.

It’s August. A year has gone by in a flash. This time last year I had just returned from Lisbon and was about to venture to Dubrovnik. The prior year, I had been Aberdeen bound ahead of more New York adventures. I always seem to find myself in the air during the Summer. I always seem to find myself escaping London’s humid heat.

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Toronto with Fi, August 2011

I am reflective, once again. I don’t know where this year is going; I don’t know where last year went either. Two years ago, seems forever ago. It’s appropriate, oh so appropriate, that I escape this week. August bank holiday breaks – I’ve had many over the years. New York, Dubrovnik, Canada and Inter-railing across Europe. I always seem to find myself adventuring at this time of year.

I booked this trip to Canada last Christmas. I finally came up for air over the festive period, following a crazy 12 months of work, and in doing so, I had the chance to stop and think again. I had the chance to think about things I have wanted to do but delayed. I thought back to 2011, when I left Fi in Montreal and headed to New York by rail, thwarted by the tail end of Hurricane Irene. I thought about my promise then – to be back that very next year for the West Coast adventure. Yet the West Coast didn’t happen. Well, not until now.

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Paul, Fi and I in Toronto for rooftop drinks – Summer 2011

The best thing about my independent life is doing exactly the things that I want to do. This existence, it affords me opportunity. I don’t need to consult with others. I don’t need to consider other plans. I don’t need to balance any priorities save for the ones I create for myself. I imprint upon my world, only the things I want to. These past two years, and even before that to some extent, have been a kaleidoscope of opportunity. Opportunities, vibrant opportunities, smashed together in a sea of colour, in a pattern that I’ve been fortunate enough to call the canvas of my independent life. They’ve glistened, like chandeliers in daylight.

So as my canvas evolves, I find new memories to make my mark. I etch new beginnings. I paint adventures every which way I turn. So much adventuring is done overseas. Perhaps, much more focus needs to be on the adventures of my London life. Perhaps, in the midst of my escapism, in the middle of my memory making abroad, I sometimes need to focus a little more on home.

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Champagne on board at Heathrow to get the holiday started

Yet home is marked with bruises. Blemishes of a past that imprint on my today. Mementos of yesterday. Reminders of days gone by. Darkness in daylight of the past. Times that have flown by. Conversations that have halted. Investments that have suddenly ceased. The past can pull like gravity; at times, freedom has seemed to only come from travel.

But I am free today. My bruises, they make me – I don’t need to lose them. I don’t need to be fixed. I am who I am for the marks that have been made upon my life. Scars are indeed souvenirs. Every scratch is a part of me. It’s made me who I am. It’s brought me to my today.

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Calgary bound – 8 hours and counting

My today happens to be here, 38,000 feet above Greenland, bound for a tremendous 12-day trip to Canada. 2016, is not so bad after all it seems. It’s been a year of learning to want again. 2015 was just a distraction. Travel aside, anything I wanted last year was nothing more than a distraction, a recovery to help my bruises fade. Yet 2016 has shown me that I can wear my bruises with pride. That I can learn to want things again. That I can be ready to risk more bruises. That bruises make, break and shape us. That chandeliers can shine again.

So in the same way that we rise and retreat amongst mountain peaks and flights in the sky, I am seeing now how my bruises, once prominent scars, can indeed fade but still have a presence that somehow reminds me of the journey I’ve been upon. They serve to remind me to be more aware to the world and its ways. They peak through the skin of my world to hint at the past, but they never break through the skin of my future. Their presence is purposeful, but not indicative of my future path.

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Niagara Falls, August 2011

My future path is here, it is now. It is 38,000 feet up, pending four days in Banff, three in Vancouver Island and four days in Vancouver itself. It is the reminder that Selina, my flatmate, gives me daily. It is her suggestion that perhaps, after this trip, and the next (Chicago and New York), and after that (Sri Lanka), that perhaps, just perhaps, my next trip should be London. My future is London. My life is London. Maybe, just maybe I need to be there a little longer to build something, to risk knocks to my skin, bruises to my world. Maybe it’s the potential promise of something that fails to imprint on my life in any other way than leaving that illusive, amazing mark I’ve been looking for.

The habitual escapism of my world, of my international travel adventures, has become so very embedded in my today. Every passport stamp blocks my bruises from resurfacing. Every immigration form deters any sense of reality back home. It’s an amazing existence. It’s a phenomenal way to live each day. Yet it’s not always reality. It’s not always accepting of bruises. It’s not always rendering me the chance to wear them with pride. It’s not always affording me the chance to go for another round, to prepare for another belting, to end up the one standing, one day.

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Stunning Greenland through the Dreamliner’s tinted windows

Travel makes me stand tall. Home can do that too. The world, can make me feel small, yet a few hours in a plane and some distant, entirely different landscape and an altered body clock, is mesmerising. Right now, I am looking out of my plane window, drawn to the rugged landscape of Greenland. Clouds disperse and jagged formations of rocks bruise through the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

I am reminded, of a travel photography workshop I ventured to this past January, at Olympia. One of the talks had centered on a visit to Greenland. An amazing expedition, with sleds pulled by huskies and seal skin rugs. Vivid photographs of an endless snow, an unblemished skin of landscape, bruised only by the seasoned travellers who chose to tour this distant land. Snow encased highways with no one on them. Chandeliers of sunlight glistening upon flakes of white.

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Seeing Maroon 5 and Train in Toronto in Summer 2011

I smile. This trip is the biggest adventure since Australia last year. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow I shall awake in the mountains of Banff National Park, before venturing on horseback alongside the Bow River. Our evening shall see us rise to the mountain top on an 11 minute gondola journey. My fear of gondolas it seems, has dissipated, a faded bruise of my past.

Come Friday, we shall explore the lakes and waterfalls of the Rocky Mountains. Lake Louise and majestic rivers with cascading falls that imprint memories that need never fade. Saturday is Glacier day. I haven’t set foot upon a Glacier since New Zealand in 2009. The Fox Glacier, rose menacingly amidst fog, rain and the gloomiest skies. We hiked to the top of the mountain, some two hours upwards, before finally venturing onto the glacier itself, our moods grey like the sky. Dim chandeliers amidst dark clouds.

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Approaching Calgary.  Dusk again.

Come Saturday we shall travel further West. Calgary to Vancouver, then transferring again by plane to Port Hardy in the north of Vancouver Island. We are picking up a car there, and another first shall follow as I drive on the right-hand side for the first time. Something, I am reminded, I wouldn’t have chosen to do some two years ago. It seems, ironically so perhaps, that bruises make us stronger, braver, more willing to break the surface with new experiences.

Speaking of new experiences, our arrival into Telegraph Cove shall afford us a rare, once in a lifetime opportunity, to see grizzly bears in their natural habitat, as they salmon fish ahead of their hibernation. Our full day adventure out on the seas and into the rivers shall no doubt be a once in a lifetime imprint on our world.

As if that isn’t enough, we shall venture back again to the open seas, whale spotting amidst the migration season. If we are lucky, bald headed eagles shall soar above and sea otters may inquisitively approach us in wonderment. The wildlife opportunities of Vancouver, with its hummingbirds, moose and black bears too, shall mark my world in a way that will no doubt be unforgettable.

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The flat landscape of Calgary

So our final few days in Canada shall take us to Vancouver itself, and to Fi. Five years late it may be, but our four days in Vancouver, perhaps the most iconic part of British Columbia, can only leave bruises that I’ll hope to savour for life. The culmination of our adventure, fantastically, shall be an evening with Rob Thomas, to see how far we’ve come and no doubt, how much further we can go.

I am aware suddenly that daylight is following me. Our 6.40pm departure from London Heathrow, and forthcoming 8.03pm arrival into Calgary, affords us a flight path of daylight. An endlessly long, but wonderful day. The light is fragile like chandeliers, a constant path of dusk. So as dusk is brought to my day, and I learn to celebrate the bruises below the surface of my skin, I know that I am ready to take on another Canadian adventure, but I’m also ready to come home afterwards. To come home, celebrate my bruises and swing like a chandelier, once again.

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