Perhaps the wrong morning to post about a change of plans - who's to believes me. Years ago I was told I was going to be a father on April fools, my gullible self panicking for hours before checking the date. Yes, today is April Fools, but this is not a prank: The Geese are flying North.
There were many reasons that went into making this choice. However, I won't go into them here. The short truth is that life was pointing to us to turn around. It feels like we were supposed to turn around.
Let's put it this way. When you were choosing which university to attend, perhaps you made a list of pro's and con's. Personally, I had multiple such lists going. Benefits of each city, each school, living situations, future benefits of each city (like job opportunities down the road), the costs of making each decision, etc. etc. etc... Maybe I'm a little neurotic, but I assume most of you had at least a few factors go into your choice.
But in the end, how did you pick? Did you pick the school that came out the highest in each category?
As you were making your decision matrix and you thought: "What are the pro's of McGill? or UofT? of Queens or UNB?" where did your reasons come from? Some reasons might have been backed my research, such as the ranking of each university. But what about qualitative factors, such as liking a particular city? Sure, you could look at how Montreal ranks according to some online magazine for student living, but in reality a large part of our decision process comes from the void (or unconscious, deeper self, whatever you want to label it).
What's the void? Let's try something. I'm sure there's a grocery store or corner store nearby. Think of as many reasons as you can as to why you should get up, right now, and get a chocolate bar.
Now lets do the same thing, but this time ask yourself for reasons why you shouldn't get a chocolate bar.
Now unless you didn't feel like humouring me, you probably came up with at least a few reasons to get one, and a few not to. I think you'll find that you can do this with anything you encounter - ask for justification and you will receive it. You want to buy that new coat? Ask for reasons, you will get them. You want to, but feel you probably shouldn't? Et voila, reasons why you shouldn't get it.
My assumption is that most of you didn't jump up to get a chocolate after reading this, and that most of you probably felt that the reasons not to get one immediately were more compelling than the reasons to hop out of your chair. However, I didn't ask you to rank your reasons, to ascribe value to each, count them up... Somehow you intuitively knew whether you wanted chocolate now or not, and this same intuitive force is what provided the justifications in the first place.
As I'm writing this I realize that was a silly example, but what I'm trying to illustrate is that we have the impression that we know why we make most choices. Because we tell ourselves that we're making them! We sometimes sit down for hours, dwell upon all the reasons, rate them, all so we can feel that we made the right choice. But ultimately, under a bit of scrutiny, I think you'll notice that there is something deeper than your surface level analysis that guides you. Even when you're being analytical, the justifications you come up with come from a place beyond you - why do you feel that Montreal has a "good vibe for students" or that students at UNB are really kind? Sure, you can come up with reasons to justify both statements, but those justifications, too, come from this place beyond us which we can't directly scrutinize.
All this to say that we've turned around. We're going North. And though we have a lot of reasons, they're not so important. What is important is that it feels right to us.
While getting ready for the trip, the primary question we received was where we were going.
We wanted to answer: "to discover ourselves" but friends and family were looking for a geographical location. As a culture we've unconsciously agreed that external journeys are more interesting than internal ones. I am often asked the favourite place we've visited, but rarely the most important thing I've learned about myself.
So we picked somewhere far. Like really far.
Our true goal, however, wasn't geographical. Argentina seems appealing, but it was much more about the personal journey than any physical destination.
So we left Mexico a last month and slowly started heading North. Funny enough, we actually started seeing geese migrating North again, so we follow them, once more, this time up the West coast.
I'll be home soon, Montreal. The adventure continues.
PS. I wrote a little poem about being alone together here.
I write because I believe that learning to articulate your thoughts and feelings allows you to get in touch with your deeper self or void. Learning to write clearly helps us think clearly. When we think clearly we think less, and we can simplify our lives. We are free to enjoy each moment more deeply.