In 1992, having recently had twin boys, we started a conversation around change; how could we raise our children with one parent at home? What might life look like if I gave up my career? And so, after much soul searching and a brief chat with our bank manager, we made the decision, to move, 3200 miles to start a new life. My husband was going to try a new profession and I was going to leave mine and help raise our three children.
In 1995, having lived only 2 ½ years in Calgary, we started a conversation around change; could we move to Victoria, live with my parents, raise our children with their elders, and help those elders to age in place and die at home?
In 2017, we started a conversation around change; could we find a way to support each other as a family, create an intentional community, age in place and die at home?
And here we are 25 years on from our move to the Island, building a small home in the woods, and receiving similar feedback to what we received each time we’ve announced a new adventure; some call us adventurous, gutsy, bold, and courageous, still others suggest that we’re naïve, foolish, ill informed, and cavalier. When we left Toronto, many felt we were giving up more than we would gain by moving; a great life, good money, career advancement. When we left Calgary, with no job prospects and no home, some said we were courting disaster, being irresponsible, and making an ill-informed decision.
And now as we embark on the biggest adventure yet, at an age when most are considering slowing down and taking things easy, we are hearing those concerned voices once again. Many think we should stay in town where we can be close to services and hospitals, are able to walk everywhere and where there are fewer unknowns. I appreciate that for the most part, the advice comes from a place of concern, friendship and even love, and here’s the thing… they might be right, we could take a different path, and many have and love it. However, if I learned anything from volunteering in Palliative Care, it’s that life is shorter than we realize. Many at end of life regret not taking more chances, not walking more adventurous paths, and having lived much of their life in fear. I know people who have been waiting their whole life to have an adventure or make their dream a reality. The challenge is to feel the fear and do it anyway, to weigh the risk against the reward, to figure out why and why not? I have always thought that rather than run away from something, it might serve us better to run toward something else instead. And rather than wondering what might go wrong, to give some credence to what might go very right, the best-case scenario instead of the worst.
The truth is that most of us will live less than one hundred years and that all of us are going to die. And while not everyone has agency over their lives, and many are limited by circumstance and other deciding factors, the invitation is there, to take what you are able to, permitted to, lucky enough to, healthy enough to, and not to waste it. I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to sail around the world, sell all their possessions, or live in a remote location to find their true selves; especially if you are already living your best life. What I am saying is that it might just be worth taking a chance on that little voice that is trying so desperately to be heard, or the dream that is waiting to be born, or the change that is waiting to happen.
This adventure may not work out as planned. This road newly traveled may be challenging, bring tears as well as joy, and turn out to be a truly difficult journey. For us, we can’t ignore the invitation for adventure, must heed the voice that leads us forward, and be true to ourselves and to each other. We will all die; either with unrealized potential and dreams that never took flight, or having listened when our heart beckoned; surely living scared cannot be worse than dying safe.