Paddling with Dad

Paddle 1

Everyone has their own reasons for travelling or living abroad. Some people like to exprience different types of food and meet new people. Others like to see famous landmarks or scenery unlike anything that they are used to. There are even those who simply hate where they are and would do anything to get away from it.

More often than not, it’s a combination of these and several more. At least, for myself, I know that that’s definitely the case.

However, the other day when my friend asked me why I liked to travel, I didn’t answer with any of these. Instead, I said, “It all comes down to paddling with my dad.”

Obviously, my friend had no idea what I was talking about. I’m not even sure if I knew what it meant at the time. But this was how I explained it:

When I was younger, I used to go canoeing with my father up at Alqongquin Park. We’d go in anywhere from one to two weeks. Sometimes we’d go with just the two of us. Sometimes we’d go with a big group. Yet, whatever the case, there was always one thing that remained the same: we’d never go out the same way we came in.

My father’s idea behind this was that he never wanted to see the same thing twice. And, according to him, the best way to do that would be to plan our trips in a loop.

Sometimes these “loops” weren’t always the easiest of routes. There were often long portages we needed to take in order to make things work. I remember getting lost a few times so that we had to spend an extra night or two trying to figure out where we were. And, on one occasion, we nearly died while trying to make our way through a swamp (I’ll save that story for another time).

Though, in the end, my dad was right: we never saw the same thing twice. And what’s more is that we always had an amazing adventure while we did it.

I can’t say that I consciously chose to apply this philosophy to my life. It simply seems to have become a large part of it.

It led me to work as an ESL teacher in South Korea and China. It got me to bungee jump in the Swiss Alps and jump from a 60 foot cliff in Greece. It encouraged me to go horseback riding in Peru and scuba diving in Thailand.

Ultimately, it got me to get out there.

Now, as my friend rightfully argued, it is possible to do things like this back at home. After all, Canada is an amazing country with thousands of opportunities. But, honestly, that wasn’t something I really considered.

I kept thinking about going forward; or, more accurately, going away.

In chosing this direction, I know that I risked missing a lot. It has been impossible to spend much time with my family and friends. I haven’t been able to set any solid roots down, either. And this all weighs heavily on me.

Yet, in the end, this is the path I’ve taken. Or maybe I should say “loop”, because it may one day lead me back home.

So, yes, the next time someone asks me why I like to travel, I think I’ll stick with that answer: It all comes down to paddling with my dad.

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