Go West, Young Man: Heading Out On The West Coast Trail

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Life is what happens when you think no one is watching. The past three weeks have found me speaking as the best man at my best friend’s wedding, speaking the eulogy at my father’s funeral, and photographing my brother’s wedding. I have slept at the Chateau Laurier, I have slept in a teepee on Prince Edward Island, and I have slept in the lap of the woman I love one warm, summer evening. We rebuilt the garden I began for my mother 15 years ago. We revised my plans on what to do with the property I bought at Christmas time after wading through ferns and mosquitos. We watched the sun set on an empty beach while eating lobster sandwiches and drinking an Alpine beer. I drove 1750kms each way long into the night. We walked in cold rain along a seashore with only a harbour seal to act as a companion. I could go on…and I will, and perhaps that is what death is about in this world: it instructs us on how to live better than the day before.

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The best that I can do is to share what I see and learn with others. I am not always right, but that is not the point. Socrates would assert that it is the act of sharing so as to question our very foundations that reflects our personal philosophy. I may not be rich nor beautiful nor brilliant nor even strong, but what I lack I aspire to improve upon, if only for the sake of those I love so that I can be a better son, employee, or loved one. I may spend a bit too much on food, shoes and travel for the conservatives; I may give too little back for the liberals of this world. I still become angry when I feel trapped or under appreciated by those around me. I am only a prima dona though to those who never gave a damn about what I wanted in the first place.

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The idea that strikes me most as I frantically pack for the West Coast Trail – a 78km trek along the Pacific Rim of Vancouver Island – is that in the end nothing we possess and nothing we achieve ever means as much as we thought it did at the time. We are each only here but for a moment. I will probably never regret not owning a giant house and an exotic sports car, but I will regret not having danced with the woman I love as many times as I could have. I will regret not spending time talking with my mother much more than I will regret not spending time making people like me at parties and social events. I take photographs to enhance my memories when I choose to reflect back on my life before taking new steps forward; if I am living well, then the photographs are much easier to make. If I am living true to my hopes and desires, then others will take photographs of me and them, too. These past few weeks I have permitted such takings to happen, and I am more proud of those photos than the 3,000 I took in that same time period.

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The world around me continues to fascinate me with both its beauty and frustrations. I am seeking a new residence in Toronto to accommodate my life and photography business, but that is always a challenge in a city where space is at a premium. I am also packing up my current space so as to allow the landlord in to find new tenants. I am at a loss for words when it comes to the photographs that my partner has taken of our lives and the recent family wedding. I must be doing something right if despite the hardships of the past few months continue to blossom into ambrosia from the gods. Letting go becomes easier when we realize that we were never on solid ground to begin with.

 

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