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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Keep Calm and Cherry On

Dear diary,

Sorry I couldn't write in you more often! Cherry picking was physically and mentally exhausting, and camp life ended up being a lot busier than I expected too.

Cherry picking season ended on August 22, nearly 2 weeks earlier than expected. It's funny how unpredictable cherries can be. Apparently a really bad rainfall that hit the Okanagan in late July ruined some of the crop so there were less cherries to be picked.

But now I've got time to look back and digest the entire experience (and a lot of cherries!). Cherry picking was exactly the experience I was hoping for after ditching the city for greener pastures. It met me with a whole lot of new challenges, which pushed me to new limits and set my bar higher for learning and growth.
Jumping off a 10 m cliff into Lake Kalamalka
The whole season was an emotional rollercoaster and, physically, at times it felt like an uphill battle. I neglected to rest my body and mind, made difficult by waking up daily at 4 am, and began each picking day tired and unprepared. I struggled with my performance while many of my peers were picking more cherries than me and making more money doing it.

I became so frustrated with it that at one point I didn't even want to look at cherries. Eventually I powered through the denial phase into acceptance - acceptance of the fact that I just wasn't meant to pick well in my first season. Eventually I went back to enjoying picking again - I cherried up again (get it?). And on one of the last days, I finally reached my goal of 30 totes, which was gratifying.
On the Kettle Valley Trail in Myra Canyon - Alicia shadowing me
After each picking day it always felt like there was lots to do in too little time, before sleep rolled along (I tried for 8 pm, though often times it was much later). However, I managed to squeeze in a lot of highlight activities. I went cliff jumping off of Lake Kalamalka, cycling with friends on the Kettle Valley Trail in Myra Canyon, outdoor rock climbing (though didn't climb, just watched friends do it), spent plenty of time on the hammock reading and napping, and of course hit the beach often. Though I didn't sleep well, I at least managed to cook mostly good food and feed my body right.

I also kind of surprised myself by copying some of the rebellious fashion styles of people on camp. But now that I think of it, the mere act of cherry picking is itself quite rebellious.
What do you think? No, don't tell me.
While I look different on the outside, on the inside I have gained a deeper understanding of myself. I learned, through sharing an intense campsite experience with up to 150 people, that I possess a strong desire to connect with interesting people. The people at a camp like this, especially, are an amazing bunch, each individual with a unique story.

Upon this self realization, however difficult and out of my introverted nature, I tried harder to reach out of my own comfort zone and out towards the people around me. And I think I succeeded in making good friends, developing strong bonds with a few, whom I hope to cross paths again with sometime on my travels.

For anyone who got the impression that I was aloof or unfriendly, I hope they know that I care for and love all human beings - I am just naturally limited in my energy for them all. As an introvert, I draw energy from my solitude by connecting with my inner self or communing with nature.
The beach - where meditation meets sand and sun
One of my highlight moments came near the end of cherry picking, while communing with nature. I was on a beach on the Lake Okanagan, standing ankle deep in the warm water, staring at the mountains and sky, bathed in a misty white glow. My senses were massaged by the beauty around me, causing my mind to wander into a meditation. A narrative of pleasant thoughts floated lazily through my mind, and mixed with some breathing exercises, resulted in a meditation lasting 20 minutes, leaving me energized and exalted.

I left the beach that day feeling great about my cherry picking experience and with no regrets about quitting my job in Calgary. I also reinforced my resolve to eventually transition into adventures more in line with my true values. While cherry picking is close to meeting my agrarian ambitions, working with pesticides compromises my values in sustainability.

To cap off the season, there was an end-of-season barbecue where I gobbled down 5 hamburgers, with double patties on the last one. There was also a final party at night where people finally let loose with all their remaining energy from the grinding season. And the goodbyes the next morning left me wistful. Yet, as a transient being, I am excited for my new phase in life.

So with that, it's time to cherry on to more challenges in life. For the next week I will be exploring more of the beautiful Cascadia region of North America.

Flickr link:
Alla paying a visit - Welcome to Vernon, BC!

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