I loved this place for a long time. So long actually that I never even processed the thought that I might one day get bored of this lifestyle. All my life has been rushed and loaded with things to do, places to go, people to see. In elementary school I played so many sports that I ran my parents wild driving me from sport A to sport B. In high school I was involved in so many things that some days I struggled to find time for sleep. Whether it be student council, women’s ensemble or the model united nations club; I seemed to have a need to be involved in every possible thing I could squeeze into my schedule. I recall when the morning announcements came on at school; I would listen eagerly to hear for any invitations to clubs who held their meetings on the days that I didn’t already have international ambassadors, Olympic club, or my soprano sectional. As far as I remember, keeping busy was a way of making sure I didn’t get bored. Also, from what I remember, I was driven by the desire to learn and grow and somehow make a lasting difference.
Today I cried for the first time in a long time. I cried over something justified; yet something that I can’t imagine myself normally drawing tears over. Someone drove into and took the life of a dog in the campground I work in. I had to go out to address the issue of the lifeless dog lying in the middle of the campground. Everyone was pacing around in disbelief and no one had it in them to pick it up from the middle of the road. The owners of the dog were a mother and her three young children, two of whom were too young to really understand the situation. Still in shock and denial, the mother kept apologizing to her crying children, claiming fault for the misfortune. A tragic situation it was, however, I typically find that my tears are stored in a tightly secured safe that’s difficult to break into.
Prior to this incident, my day had been painfully dull- to the point where my body and soul were actually feeling lifeless. I drove around the campground in a golf cart feeling as if I my body had woken up this morning and left my soul sleeping in bed.
Difficult it was to recover from such an awful moment as the minutes preceding a family witnessing the death of their dog. So difficult that I had to run down the hall to ask for help from a co-worker so I didn’t have to tremble as I tried to deal with customers. So difficult that I physically felt my legs collapse beneath me as I tried to regain my shallow, teary breath. Yet somehow, as challenging as that hour of my day was, it somehow made my day all the more brighter.
No longer was I feeling so emotionless that I was wondering if half of my being was still in bed. Although the emotions were not the slightest bit positive, I believe they were a reminder that I have not lost the ability to feel. In that moment, I acknowledged my respects for the family and their late dog, while I also appreciated the realization that I am not completely emotionless. Today may have been the first time in my life that I have been conscious of my gratitude for tears.
I always replay this memory of my co-worker Natalia in my mind. A customer once asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up. At 28 years of age, she replied, “I want to live.”
They then proceeded to ask her- since her nametag tells that she is from Ontario- what she is doing here. “I’m living”, was, again, her faithful response.
When she was recounting this to a bunch of our friends as we sat in our backyard, she explained, “I think that here we are living. Wherever we were before, we were just surviving.”
For a long time I believed this. For a long time I felt pure contentment in this simplistic mountainous lifestyle. In the last while, however, I have begun to feel as if I am just in the survival state.
I loved this place for a long time. But what has it come to if it takes a dog’s death for me to feel an emotion strong enough to be fulfilled? No longer is the 40-hour workweek, subsided with frequent alcohol consumption, enough to fulfill me. I believe it stems from that desire- like in high school- to learn, to grow, and somehow make a lasting difference.
The people here get their satisfaction in different forms. Jumping off 100-foot cliffs into pools of water for that adrenalin rush that lasts for days. Taking drugs to explore an alternate consciousness that the sober mind cannot experience. Long boarding at 35km per hour down the highway to get the heart rate pumping. These are all things that give people their fix. These are the things that allow people to go to bed at night feeling fulfilled. For me, these aren’t the things that do it.
This laid-back lifestyle nestled within the Purcell Mountains to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east has given me opportunity for growth. It has been an experience different from any other. I am a believer that every place you choose to spend a significant period of time changes you. And every new adventure is good for the soul. But they all too must come to an end. With two weeks left in the town of Fairmont Hot Springs, I have begun my transition towards the next adventure. I am just preparing early for my departure.