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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

On the TransCanada Treadmill of Canada

You know that feeling when you're on a treadmill? When you feel like you're moving forward, yet the scenery doesn't appear to be changing? For the most part this is the feeling one gets driving across the Prairies from Calgary to Toronto.

Yes, it was boring at times. However, at other times driving across the flat unending fields of wheat actually produced quite a surreal feeling, as if I was a fixed point in the universe, and the earth was spinning and passing like a blur underneath me.

And certainly, sometimes it felt as if I wasn't propelling myself of my own will, but that invisible forces were pulling and guiding me towards the unknown. Perhaps it's the universe's way of telling me I need to get lost in order to find myself. And so I found myself propelling across the vast Prairies with all of my possessions in the back of my hatchback.

And a fellow Couchsurfer in the passenger seat.
Katie, my fellow 5-day road-tripper, fresh off 1 year of world travels 
Special shoutout to Katie. Katie found my Kijiji ad for a rideshare from Calgary to Toronto, and she was a great passenger and perfect road trip partner, making the drive go by much smoother. We drove at an easy pace, made frequent leisurely stops, and roughed it overnights, avoiding hotels and motels in exchange for Couchsurfing and camping. We got to see and gain an understanding and appreciation of our home country, kilometre by kilometre.

We stayed with my cherry picking friend, Aidan, in Regina, camped in Winnipeg, walked around downtown for a morning, caught up with another dear cherry picker, Kyla, in Thunder Bay, stayed there overnight with Couchsurfers, and camped the final night by Lake Superior. The road trip spanned 5 days, 3400 km, countless forests and lakes, and all for just $260 in gas (~5.7L/100km), thanks to my trusty fuel-efficient Yaris.

Katie just came back from travelling for over a year across the globe and was transitioning back to home life in Toronto, whereas I was heading in the opposite direction (metaphorically, of course), returning to the way of the nomad. Thus, we had lots to share and discuss, and I easily opened up to her, though perhaps too easily. We philosophized about gaining awareness through travel and new experiences, knowledge with responsibility and burden, ignorance with bliss. Once or twice it intensified to sparring, and she was able to expose some of my areas of weakness, stubbornness and sounding self-righteous.
Wandering around downtown Toronto as a tourist - Distillery District
Afterwards, our discussions caused me to reflect lots about the tightrope I walk everyday in passionately expressing my views without offending or alienating others, in balancing persuasion with humility. I am grateful for Katie's boldness in conversation, challenging me to reevaluate my approach to others. And it was definitely not my intention to offend or alienate others in the past. I genuinely feel a desire to make the world a better place, but also to connect to every individual I meet and not scare them away.

My blog is also a reflection of this part of me, and hopefully it never becomes more self-serving than it is a mode of inspiration and education for its readers.

Alas I had a limited time to contemplate all this back home in Toronto. I have just landed in New Delhi, India and am writing this as I wait for my friend Hanga to join me. My journey here will continue to stimulate learning, growth and awareness of how to impact others.
India, here I come!
For my mind is also like a treadmill, I need only train it to run faster, and not stumble or get too far ahead of me.

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