To start off December right, I completed a 3-day Vipassana meditation course, a silent retreat in the remote mountainous forests of beautiful BC. Not a bad way to transition from a busy first 3 months in my newly adopted city of Vancouver.
'Busy' is a relative term though. For most, busy would describe a hectic time, getting acclimated to a new job and commute, settling in to a new home and establishing a routine. My busy was more of the wild and wacky variety.
Because for me, it meant settling in to a community house: getting familiar with new faces along with their competing demands for time and space, acquiring furniture and friendships, aligning shelves and staggered schedules, sharing common areas and common ground, and dealing with dirty laundry and drama. And don't get me started on the drama... seriously.
Our 60's style living room with brick walls and tile floors
|Sunrise Park, a few blocks from the house, with views of Burnaby Skyscrapers and the nearby mountains|
Thrown in the vortex of house happenings, which kept me on my toes everyday, were my ongoing search for a new job and a community outside of my house. In essence, I was desperately searching for a concrete sign that I was meant to stay in this concrete jungle.
Like I said, it was more wild and wacky than busy. In fact, my new job was hardly stressful at all due to its flexibility, though only a temporary solution. And my 40 minute commute by bike provided me solitude from the overstimulating home life, and allowed me the freedom that all cyclists know - the wind in my face, time to think and the ability to explore the city.
And explore I did, and with my penchant for endless curiosity, discovered the many little gems that dot Vancouver's crown - karma yoga and $2.95 breakfasts, cheap-ass sushi, hobo markets, marijuana shops, thrift shops and free shops, dumpster dives and Sikh Temple free dinners, hippies, hipsters and homeless, anarchist books and alternative fashions, hikes, and horizons of mountains and oceans.
|My housemate, DJ Dan Snakehead, DJing the Vancouver Alternative Fashion Show|
|Notice the ball and chain shackled to his leg|
My nagging narrative of whether I should stay in Vancouver reached a catharsis in the week before the vacation I didn't yet know I was going to take.
It started with a spontaneous decision to attend a tea festival, a seemingly mildly interesting event which sparked a chain of positive moments. There I watched two very inspiring presentations by ethical tea startup companies, which gave me the jitters and reminded me of my travels. The festival led me to volunteer with one company, discuss the remote but potential opportunity to work with another, and, as a bonus, led to a followup meeting with potentially new friends at a fun boardgame cafe Meetup event. And it all started with Justea!
Since arriving, I had been steadily applying for jobs, even in Calgary, as I was still on the fence about staying in Vancouver. Suddenly one random Craigslist job inquiry opened the door with a reply, a rare answer in the ultra competitive job market here. I scrambled to meet with my potential employer in the dwindling days before my vacation. This job is not official yet. Needless to say, it is an unexpected but unique opportunity that only few cities like Vancouver could offer. More on this one later.
Finally, the discovery and timing of the vipassana course sealed the deal to take time off and to visit Calgary after. I put out an ad on Craigslist (thank god for Craigslist!) and, choking with anxiety until the last minute, found someone to sublet my room the day before I myself packed everything up to leave! It was only once the sublet arrived when I could exhale a big sigh of relief. She appears to be a good fit for the house too, and I feel satisfied leaving my room to her, and her to my housemates.
Speaking of the community house, despite all the head shaking drama, enough to write a reality TV show from (even the use of the term 'community house' is debated), with each passing week my housemates grew on me and, in turn, my love and respect for them. Thus, I have renewed my commitment to the house, as well as my lease, for the new year.
|Dumpster dive with king oyster mushrooms!|
|Hiking "The Chief" with one housemate, and another future one|
I realized that we have the potential to overcome our barriers and build a special home together. Because community is what it's all about. It takes work, but it's a goal worth all the emotional and physical sweat.
Year after year Vancouver is rated one of the most liveable cities in the world. Many people here live in a bubble, but my travels allow me to step back and see not only how truly special this city is, but how fortunate I am to call it home. It took 3 months, and 1 fast and furious week, but, by the end of it, I found enough of a foothold to grow roots in this concrete jungle.
“Life is like an appetizer menu. You get to sample as many ways to live as you dare to.”
Credit to my friend Kat Don
Link to blog of my first ever vipassana meditation course here. And check out www.Dhamma.org for a course near you.
Namaste and happy holidays,