Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Carpe diem

Sometimes, people surprise you. Sometimes, people are exactly what you expect. Now, I don't mean that in either a good or a bad way. It is what it is.

For instance, sometimes, when travelling through, there are those people who you'd expect would make the time, possibly rearrange their schedules, in order to see you. Then there are those who you'd not expect to hear much from at all. We file these people away in their respective folders, then sometimes, out of no where, it's as if a two-year-old got a hold of the files and ran, guns blazing, around the room with the folders wide open, people and expectations being scattered every which way.

I guess this is the first time I've been passing through the old stomping grounds after I've reconnected with some old friends, friends who I haven't seen in a solid five to seven years. Our paths diverged, then re-joined, somewhere along the way, for whatever reason - it doesn't really matter what the reason is, what matters is that we've been given the opportunity to reignite something, and that something could be great. Every opportunity has the potential to be great. So, when you're given an opportunity, shouldn't you seize it? Carpe diem, my friends! Every chance.

At the other end of this spectrum, there are those whom you would suspect, because you tend to keep in touch regularly, or because you talk about getting together when you're in the same place, or whatever, that you would meet up with these people once said circumstances are present. Then, nothing. Or, excuses. I'm not one to force people to spend time on me, but like I said, sometimes, there are those whom you would expect to spend time together with. Now, not to say that I don't feel a little disappointed by this, but that's life, and who am I to suggest that time spent with me is any more important than time spent doing something else? I don't take it personally - it is what it is. How we each spend our life is based on a series of choices and I'm not in the position to judge how others choose to spend their lives.

But, then I wonder sometimes, especially when our time is so limited, why we don't seize these opportunities? I'm reminded of a blog I read on a regular basis, which addressed these same thoughts. Mark Kolke's Morning Musings read:

"Too soon, too far, and too much are not barriers to great relationships or great ideas... and they are so much better than too little, too late, too bad, too inconvenient, too much water under the bridge or too much trouble."

Ain't that the truth? So, why then, do we put off, and make excuses to ignore these opportunities? I know this advice is now coming from an unemployed, twenty-something, who is living with her mother, and has essentially the most open schedule in human history, but even when my circumstances were different, I recognized the importance of making the most of the opportunities we've been given. Strangely enough, that's what got me to where I am now!

Then there are those whom one can go without constant contact. They're what I like to refer to as "friend soul mates". Friend soul mates are those whom we have such deep connections with, that we can go months, if not years between telephone calls, e-mails, Facebook messages, and visits, but once you're back together, or back on the phone, or exchanging those e-mails, there's no hard feelings, no expectations for one person to apologize for not keeping in touch, no awkwardness or guilt. These low-maintenance friendships come from a connection on the soulular level (ha! geek joke - cellular, soulular.. get it?). They're those friendships you feel in your heart, like there is always a string that keeps you connected on some interstellar level - like a "tin-can-and-string telephone", but the string can reach to infinity.

That being said, I like having my expectations put in check - it keeps me on my toes and reminds me that humanity will always be unpredictable, exciting, unexpected, wonderful.

No matter which category a person fits in, I'm glad they are there. Whether we catch up regularly or once in a blue moon, on the internet or in person or on the phone, I'm thankful because not everyone can be a friendship soul mate, but every choice and every person in my life is of value.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Home again, home again jiggedy jig!

As the old saying goes: "some things never change."

My flight from Edmonton to Halifax was scheduled to land at 9:40 am. The change-over in Toronto was delayed by 20 minutes so I landed at 10:00 am, almost on the dot. My brother had so graciously dedicated himself to picking me up after I told him I booked my flight. I hopped off the plane, as energetically as I could after flying all night and getting minimal amounts of quality sleep. I headed down the escalator, anxiously scanning the area for my brothers face. Nothing. I took a stroll to the baggage carousel. Nothing. Walked around the arrivals area. Nothing. Waited for my bags. Got my bags. Still didn't find my brother. Not exactly the reception I was hoping for. How anticlimactic.

Since I am currently sans cell phone, I lugged my 40 pound expedition pack, 45 pound suitcase, carry-on bag and purse to the nearest pay phone and made a collect call. The robotic voice said, "Would you be willing to accept a collect call from (insert my voice here) 'Allie'? For yes press one, for no press two, or say 'yes' or 'no'." Thankfully, the answer was yes.

I then learned that, as I suspected from the late-night Facebook post my brother left on my wall, he had been drinking the night before and he had left "not too long ago". What time did he leave? 9:30 am. Ten minutes before my scheduled arrival time. Great. All I can say is, thank God for wireless internet because without a cell phone I had nothing to occupy my time for the next hour and fifteen minutes otherwise. Also, luckily for me, my trusty friend Lisa in NYC was on chat, who I can always depend on for a solid, hilarity-filled chat sesh. Her cynicism confirmed my suspicions that my brother was indeed a jerk and her and dry humour helped to lift my spirits. Three cheers for Lisa! Finally, 11:15 am rolled around and so did my brother. "I'm sorry, I'm a jerk." Yes, yes you are. You are also a jerk who is buying me Tim Hortons. Count it!

I arrived in New Glasgow to my mom waiting on the back step, just as I predicted: postured to pounce on me like a jungle cat on its prey. Admittedly, hugs and cuddles followed - after I made my necessary "I'm safe" phone calls to a couple of concerned citizens.

My time has essentially been super hectic and fun-filled since. I hung out with my mom, laid down for a bit, got a slice of pepperoni Acropole pizza (THE BEST!), spent the night in my university town for a friends' birthday party, went adventuring with my brother and brother from another mother, took my mom to the Farmer's Market and for groceries, and went for tea with my dear friend Emma. It's great catching up with friends and knowing that no matter how long it's been since you last spoke, your friendship is strong enough that the minute you're back together it's like you've never been apart (aside from the excessive amounts of detail-sharing!). I expect a lot more of that to come with several more engagements arranged for this week.

For now, I have a very important engagement with my bed. Still jet-jagged. Still haven't taken the nap I had planned on 36 hours ago... and then again 6 hours ago.

Adventures in the back country with the bros = having a time!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Funny the way it is, when ya think about it..

Over the past week since I've made it "official" that I'm leaving Edmonton I've had a lot of people share their kind words and fond memories with me, and I with them. Some of these people I've known before my time in Edmonton; they've made their way here also, either before or after I did. Others are those who I've had the pleasure of meeting here in Edmonton; these folks are few, but extremely high caliber. The words we've exchanged, well, they got me to thinking. Why is it that we tend to only share our fondest memories and most sincere appreciation for the people in our lives only when we're afraid that we're losing them? Most commonly, we think of this scenario when it's associated with death. Since my leaving Edmonton has become public, however, I've been experiencing this both in my professional and personal life.

How hard is it to take thirty seconds out of your day to share your appreciation for what ever it is someone brings into your life?

I've had co-workers share with me how much they appreciate all the hard work I've done for them on projects, or how much they'll miss me around the office, or having me on projects because they find it easy to work with me, or how disappointed they are because they had me in mind for a specific project because they saw in me certain skills and qualities that made me the ideal candidate.

I've had friends reminisce with me about the times we've shared together - some recent times, while others go back to the time we first met. People take their turns, each sharing what it is about me that they like having around (not to say there aren't times when they'd rather that I was not around, though! haha). One friend recalled, "I remember when we first met, we were sitting on the balcony overlooking the ravine and talking about our lives... then and there I knew we were going to be great friends." And we were. And we are. And we always will be. Sometimes you just know. "I'm going to miss you," they say - and they mean it, and it means so much to me to hear those words. And I'll miss them so much - so genuinely much.

Then, the question arises: Why did this all have to wait until now? Now, I'm not saying I would have changed my mind had my co-workers expressed their appreciation and reliance on me more, or had my friends more openly shared their reasons for wanting me to stick around. But, in the day-to-day happenings of our lives, why do we find it so hard to share just how much someone means to us? We find all the time in the world to complain about how we slept so poorly the night before, or how our kids (or dogs in most of my friends cases) were up sick all night, or how we just wish the day were over, etc. We openly wish our time away with these people, when we should be inviting every moment to be the best moment possible with them. Why can't we take thirty seconds to share our appreciation for that person. It can even come in the form of, "Ya know, I've just been having a really rough time lately. I'm so glad that I have you in my life. I can always count on you and I'm so thankful for that."

Thirty seconds.

After coming to this realization I've decided that for the rest of my life - and especially during these transient times when I feel I require so much more support from those I've allowed into my life and who've allowed me into theirs -  I'm going to express my appreciation every chance I get. Whether you're a co-worker, a family member, an acquaintance or a best friend - you are in my life for a reason and I should share with you whenever I can just how much I appreciate you.

Do I have you thinking yet?

Chances are, if you're reading this right now, you fit into one of those categories so let me take a moment and fulfill my new-found resolution with a quote by Melody Beattie:

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for toady, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. You've all made my house a home. Not the house where I keep my groceries and my clothes, but the house inside of me where my little voice lives. My little voice thanks you too, by the way. She wasn't ready to die - she's only twenty-four, you know.