It has been snowing, lots. Since 7am this morning we have had more than a foot of snow. The sky is a flat grey and white flakes fall from the sky, I have lost my depth perception because everything seems so flat and yet alive. It is a strange land.
I feel stuck - stuck in my mind and stuck inside the house, like a dog at the window whining to go outside. It is time for a walk. I enjoy walking, it is how I think and unthink: a form of meditation. Walking and talking, and leaving behind those things that have blanketed over my mind, and there has been a lot on my mind lately.
Ezra, the boys' friend is over for the afternoon, and they have chosen to shovel the drive way - entertainment in Canada is cheap with boys in their first winter. I had made a kind request this morning, “After school, can you boys please shovel the driveway?”
Levi smiled, “Sure. If our neighbour doesn’t come and blow it out first.”
There is always hope, when you have been asked to shovel a driveway, that a man with a snow-blower will come past. But today, hope was delayed long enough for them to clean out our driveway. You should ask the boys about shovelling sometime, we have a long drive way. They have been out here for over an hour.
I appreciate the hard work they have put in, moving the snow from the driveway, as getting to the road was easy, didn’t even slip over (which has happened on more than one occasion). The road is covered in snow, a foot deep and the snow plow had been at our end of the island this morning. Light and fluffy snow, a foot deep. Step and sink. Step and sink. Step and sink.
I am halfway down our road, heading for the main road, before I start wondering if this was a good idea. A walk, under grey skies, with snow falling - hard. My legs ache, my back is feeling the past few days of cross-country skiing.
Step and sink. “Was this a good idea? I feel stupid.”
Step and sink. “I need a walk. I am not giving up right now. Just to the main road.”
The road goes up a slight hill. I am breathing hard, legs ache from my short and difficult steps. Deer look up at me, and flee from the brambles, dancing across the road and over a fallen fence. Snow is drifting into pretty, white piles on the bare branches.
It feels like so much work that at the top of the hill I stop to catch my breath. I am not turning back. I need this walk. Step and sink. Step and sink.
A little thought drifts into my mind, and I grab hold of it. Explore the thought, understand the weight. “This feels a lot like how life has been for the past three months. Our voyage started under clear skies, but now it feels to be in danger of sinking. Step and sink. No matter which pathway seems open, it is covered with foot-deep, soft snow.”
Upon the Open Road
We started travelling as a way to expand our horizons. To see different countries. To show our children that the world is larger than watching things on television. People live differently, and we are unique and individual, but also part of a greater race of humans. Life is different and the same.
We started by planning a trip to Canada, because of family and friends. We thought the best way to start seeing the world was to begin where family lives. To see where our Aunty lives. To try a winter where it snows. To live on an island, where a ferry is the only way to the mainland. We did, and it is different to living at home.
Work. Not that kind of Work
We left with work things falling apart. A six month contract that was “in the bag” was cancelled. I signed a new contract, and due to things outside our control the work has been slow. Everything is slow, and when things are slow I get worried, without work there is no money coming in.
What was expected is not what is happening. Of course. Who would have thought?
To the best extent possible I have been trying to change the work situation. Looking for something to come up, pushing and knocking on the doors of possibilities. Calling out and yelling. Waiting for some kind of repsonse to the question of “What the hell am I meant to do, now?”
I didn’t expect this to be easy. But I didn’t expect it to be this hard.
Job applications have been rejected with no explanation. Job applications that have been considered have been rejected because someone else has been found, either better, with more skills or closer proximity. I am looking for a life-line and getting rejected. Somewhere inside, it is hurting. Somewhere.
Step and sink. Get up in the morning and do it again. Step and sink.
Work has never been predictable. I have enjoyed the ability to select some great jobs, to work alongside some great clients, and to build some great things. It feels like the ship is sinking, and I am grabbing at anything that could make the situation better - and everything is sinking too.
We left on our voyage under clear skies, not a cloud in the sky. We met friends and family along the way, and enjoyed every part of our journey. In three weeks we move on to the United States, and see my brother - that makes my heart feel lighter. As the road opened up before us, we enjoyed fellowship and good travel.
Time has gone on and our voyage has changed. The blue skies have clouded over, replaced by the dark-grey of an impending storm. I do not need the skies to be clear, but our ship must not sink from below us.
And So, I Walk
My walk is usually around 5kms, a long enough time to think and unthink. The long-stretch is along the highway, about half-way around the block. Today, after trudging through the snow, and finding the main road I enjoy an easy walk until the long-stretch. The wind gets stronger, pushing freezing rain into my face. Ice grows on my beard, and rain stings my eyes when I try and look up the road. I am not stepping into foot-deep snow, but I cannot walk forward.
I turn around.
Is this giving up? Is turning around because of freezing rain counted as giving up?
Another thought drifts through my mind. “This walk has turned into a metaphor. How ironic.” Can a walk be a metaphor? Or is it ironic?
I Hold Out Hope
I have a feeling that making a change this big, to become a nomadic family for a time, means that there is a risk - maybe a guarantee - that the boat will feel like it is sinking for a time. How we negotiate these waters, and if we can do enough to keep the ship afloat, will determine if we can keep going.
We took a gamble, made a big change, and so far I have been bailing water. Looking for something to grab onto. Three months. Step and sink. I am feeling tired.
But, I have hope. We have a bit of time before the money runs out to figure something out. I feel like all this work is not for naught, and someday it could be a story for the grandchildren. Someday, we could look back on the dark skies, and bailing water, and think “It was all worth it.”
Our choice to make a big change could also fail and fall. Collapse and sink. We spend a winter with friends and family. During which, I spend three months worrying about the future all for nothing. Then we head back to our little corner of the world.
And if that is the worst that could happen, it would not be terrible. Heading back to friends and family, to comfort and normality is not a bad thing. My heart has drifted back home many times in the past few months.
I am Determined, but Becoming Less Inclined to be Determined
I am determined to make this work. Something has to happen. We made a change, and now it is time for the change to become a reality. Hope springs eternal, but reality feels more crushing.
By the time I make it back to our road - the road with a foot of snow - the ice rain has turned back into flakes, and the road has been plowed. My walk was not like I had planned, it was different, and that is okay.
There is always hope. Even if that hope is embracing something I do not want to happen.