Canadian Road TRIP

This autumn I had the opportunity to fulfil a lifetime dream and to road trip across Canada during Autumn. Extended time alone teaches you so much about yourself. It can be uncomfortable at times and yet releasing to be free of all responsibility of everyday life. It can be lonely and yet life giving as you have time to explore the desires of your heart. However, there was one invaluable lesson that I learned. “What will I do with the opportunities that come my way?”
So often as a tourist I just focus upon the destination: the sight I want to see, experience and tick off the list. For me these destinations are usually places of beauty. I am one of those people who finds their energy is restored by an encounter with nature and I crave it. So my itinerary was planned to include as many of these notable places as possible. But in a place like Canada the destination is not everything. There is so much to see along the way- so much hidden beauty. I learned I had to change the way I travelled, slowing down and making time for detours and stops, if I was going to get the best out of my trip. There had to be time to enjoy the unexpected places I found.
I came to this realisation as I travelled the Icefield Causeway. Two hours into my trip and turning off the Trans-Canadian Highway the road began to climb. And, as I travelled, I saw one of the hundreds of signs telling me of a scenic view. Because I had been driving for a while, I made the unusual (for me) snap decision to pull off and stop. This was what I found….
Complete stillness and tranquillity. I have heard descriptions of azure waters, blue skies, mirrored lakes and snow clad mountains but they don’t go near to describing the walk up to this lake. Yes, there was a sharp intake of breath! Yes, words could not describe it! Yes all I could do was stand still and savour the moment! It was simply stunning. It was silent. It was still. It was beautiful. It was majestic and I nearly missed it! By pure chance I had found what I most needed and desired….my perfect view. The place that helped me to connect with my soul and to experience my God.
From that moment I resolved to travel differently. Not to lose the purpose and the goals but to have flexibility in the journey. To build in time so that I could detour, stop and make the most of the unexpected opportunities that came my way. I had to change my mind-set, but once I did my holiday changed. I suddenly began to find endless hidden views and to experience over and over again the connection between nature, my soul and God.
The question now I have returned home is – will I change how I travel daily life? Will I allow for my schedule to give me time to enjoy the winter sunset over the city, the smile of my baby god-daughter as she raspberries her lunch all over her god-mum or the chance to listen to the rain on the conservatory roof? Modern life is hectic and busy and frantic but purposefully living in a way that gives room for the detour may just give me the unexpected opportunity to restore my soul.

Sally Walker-Smith is a teacher, who is on a career “detour” to give time to find some “hidden” opportunities in life and hopefully let her make a difference especially for children in care.