I was living in Edmonton, Alberta for several years working in the city and then eventually up by Cold Lake on an oil refinery. The job setup was great. I worked shift work so it started off with seven days being at work, and seven days being at home, work six months of the year. What better schedule could you ask for? The people that I worked for and alongside with were amazing. I realized that even more after spending time away from the job site and being on the road throughout this summer. But I’m sure that there were times that those individuals wouldn’t have said the same about me. Now this isn’t an article solely as an apology to those who were close to me in my “challenging state of mind”. As sorry as I am to have made life difficult for those strong and helpful individuals that have stood beside me, I want to take an opportunity to bring up something that I’ve realized throughout this trip that I believe is important.
As most of you would know for the last while, the price of oil hasn’t done any major favours for our economy as a whole. We watched a lot of our friends on that site that we worked on leave because of the layoffs. With work becoming slow, I eventually became less and less motivated to do anything, which to an extent would be somewhat natural. But what wasn't natural was I let myself get to a point of discouragement and complacency that being assigned the simplest task became a burden. At a time when work was slow, I should have been excited to have given something to do or even have employment for that matter. Casting a negative mindset didn’t help my relationship with my co-workers as well. God bless their souls and the patience they had for me. Eventually, it was our turn to get our assets off the work site and be gone by the end of May. The planning of the Canadian Cross Country Road Trip wasn’t a spontaneous decision based off us being done with that location. This was being planned since January of this year. Throughout those five months, I kept daydreaming of crossing the country and taking photographs. It was the one thing that kept me motivated, to gather enough funds to spend time exploring this beautiful country. Sitting here now with the end of the trip in sight there’s been important lessons that I have learned.
-Lesson one: I had no reason in any way, sense, or form to have felt or be in that negative mindset that ultimately I’ve placed myself into. I’m a healthy, average individual that had a great job with a consistent paycheck that fitted my needs very comfortably. I had a lovely home to live in, great friends to hang out with, and a healthy, creative mindset that would keep me busy for hours on end. What did I have to feel negative about? Nothing at all. Maybe the situation of our employment being in question? That was completely out of our control and I wasn’t and won’t be the last person to go through this. That’s just how the nature of the beast we call our economy works. There will be situations that will be out of your control so don’t stress about it, there’s a very likelihood that you’ll be fine when everything settles down.
-Lesson Two: The sickening part about being in my negative mindset was that I was aware of it. I knew very well what I was doing, but I didn’t fully apply myself to change anything. I’d wake up and say,” I’m not going to be a dick today and I’m going to try my best to be my humble self.” By the time I’d get to work, it was like I threw that positive attitude out of the door and fell right back into an old routine. Throughout this trip across the country, I’ve had a few challenges. For the most part, I’ve been extremely fortunate that the trip has gone as smooth as it did. But being the photographer, the filmmaker, the driver, the navigator, the content creator and tying the content onto my social media feeds, it’s created opportunities to challenge myself mentally and physically. And whenever I came to that point, I’d step away from the situation, take a deep breath or ten, and assess the situation with a clearer and presently aware state of mind. Take the time to do that. If ever you get into a situation that challenges you, take whatever moment you can to take a deep breath, let the mind get aware of the current state, and start off with that. I would let my subconscious mind take over the situation based on past experiences but that wasn’t always the answer for the issue I was facing at the time. That I believe played a role into why I would fall back into that rut when I get to work. We’re creatures of habit, but luckily we have the ability to change habits.
Lesson Three: I know that this has been said countless times but life is too short. The fact that the most of us exchange our priceless and fleeting resource called life for a sense of security and a means to a comfortable existence baffles me more as I take time away from the template that most of us have followed for so long. I understand that we need to provide a roof over our heads, food into our bodies, and a home for our family to grow into. But let’s take a step back for a moment and really look hard at what we’re doing to ourselves. When you wake up how do you feel? Do you struggle to get out of bed because you know you have what seems like an endless amount of work that needed to be done yesterday? Are you having to take a deep breath every time you get out of your car and walk through the doorway of your workplace? Can you remember the last time you felt excited to get a new assignment and saying to yourself, “I’m going to crush this!” If you’re the individual or group of people that fits within these examples and countless other, then I’m telling you right now you’re doing yourself more harm than good. I’ve seen countless people breaking themselves physically and mentally in order to provide a sustainable life for themselves. That’s not a way of life, that’s a form of what I’ve read that’s appropriately quoted “Economic Slavery”. Now for the people who have done great for themselves, the ones that are settled in a healthy state of mind and living in a financially secure lifestyle I want to congratulate you, as far as I'm concerned you’ve won. But for the others that are far away from that reality, dealing with constant trying times, think of your situation this way. The CEO of the company you work for has as much value on this earth as you do. So why are you placing a price on your head and facilitating his or her vision when you could facilitate your own. It doesn’t matter if your end goal that you want to attain is on a micro or macro scale. As long as it’s what you want in life then as far as I’m concern you have every right to achieve it. Even if it takes a lifetime, what do you have to lose? You’re already losing time by being a lesser version of your true self, sitting in an office or a work site starring of what’s potentially out there waiting for you. I wrote this not with the intention to be another cliche “pursue your dreams” article you see posted on your social feeds or advertisements throughout your day. I wrote this because after spending time across this beautiful country that I’m grateful to live in, I’ve been able to slowly realize that there is so much more to life than working for a paycheck. There’s so much more than powering through the week so you can have the weekend to recharge and repeat the process again. You are valuable to this world. Realize that the next time you feel the need to beat yourself up for absolutely no reason. You are valuable to the people around you. When you have friends that are genuinely concerned about your well-being, please find it in yourself to open up to them. I know this topic can vary but if it takes every bit of strength in you to open up, do it. That’s the first step towards bettering yourself and the people that stand by your side. And take the time to enjoy life. I don’t mean take two days to yourself and go away thirty minutes away from home. If you have the opportunity to take off towards an unknown direction for a summer or for a year, do it. I promise you when you get over the idea of how fearful the concept of travelling can be, or how much the trip itself will cost you,or how difficult gaining a general direction ca be, the experiences and lessons you’ll gain in the end will be worth it because you’ll start forgetting about those thoughts the moment you let the world embrace you and show you the true value of life.
- I wrote this as an incentive to myself after having the chance to drive across Canada in the summer of 2016 to be my first step to fully bettering myself and taking charge of the path of life that I want to pursue. I wanted to share this because I hope that maybe in some way I can help someone else that’s out there in a similar situation as me to take the time to step back from their current headspace and reassess what they're doing. This isn’t a definite answer to everyone since we’re all on different paths of life, but I believe it’s a start. We have the ability to live a fulfilled and inspiring life. It’s about time we took advantage of what we truly deserve. Thank you for reading, take care.