Stuck on the Trans Canada

A theme I have been trying to live by is be grateful for whatever comes.

I was lucky enough to be raised by two extremely wise and intelligent people, and any time I had a complaint about anything, really, they were quick to counter with any or all of the following: “but Heather, there is always someone worse off than you", or "the situation could always be worse – always,” or “but what is the other person feeling/experiencing/going through?”

An example: complaining about a certain subject at school (which rarely happened because I was, by definition, a massive nerd, and proud of it), they would counter with the fact that there were many people in this world who don’t have access to the schooling that I do, and they would probably really like to be having the problem that I am having. It sure doesn’t feel the greatest in the moment, but it always gave me perspective. It boils down to gratitude: be grateful that you are having a tough time with this certain subject, it means you are being challenged and being given an education that many in this world will never receive.

I have what many would define as “worry-warts” in my family; we are cautious, and methodical, and are generally prepared for the worst-case scenario. Many see this as a weakness, “you’re always worried about what could go wrong, do you realize how low the probability is that something like that actually may happen?” To them I say, thank you for your concern, my optimistic and likely idealistic friend, but preparedness, awareness and realism are different than pessimism or paranoia. Being prepared, and knowing what may go wrong actually typically breeds relief and joy when everything works out.

For the idealist, who is expecting all to go to plan and nothing to ever go wrong, one slight bump in the road may mean game over; the trip was horrible, or the interview went terribly, or you’ll never go on a date again after that disaster. For me, when you acknowledge what may happen, and are prepared for it (be that mentally or physically, with gloves and hats in the car in case of bad weather or an accident in the winter, for example), if you find yourself in a pickle, it doesn’t seem so bad, because you were ready for it and acknowledged that it was a possibility.

That same idealist, who sets out in December with nothing but a sweater on because they are “just going to hop from the car to the building”, a tiny fender bender or a flat tire may equate to some frost bitten hands and ears, and an angry and uncomfortable driver and passengers. Being prepared also means that when nothing goes wrong, for some reason, its even better. X, Y, and Z could have happened, but they didn’t, how wonderful! Or, only X did, look at that! Gratitude and awareness collide.

I humbly carry that phrase with me everyday - be grateful for whatever comes - even when it seems difficult, which I will tell you, is honestly not that often, because it has become not only a mindset or a thought process, but how I live my life. I am currently sitting on a bus from Revelstoke, British Columbia to Calgary, Alberta. Normally, I get wildly carsick doing anything other than looking out the front window or napping.

How am I doing this, you ask? If you’ve never been to Western Canada in the winter, Revelstoke and surrounding areas in particular, I will tell you that this is the definition of Winter Wonderland. In the last 72 hours, we have gotten over 45 centimeters of snow. It literally puked snow. It was CRAZY. It made for awesome skiing, snowman building, and snow angels. It also knocked out power for a lot of people and made the roads insane.

I am on my way back from a wonderful New Years ski vacation with family. I used to nanny for them: my cousin, her husband, and their two beautiful daughters. We met up with two other family friends of theirs, and there happened to be 14 of us in a four bedroom cabin south of the ski hill, tucked in an awe-inspiring spot (see the photo below for the view off the living room).

My family had such a good time, they decided to stay a few extra nights, while I have to get back to the city to catch a flight back to Vancouver Island tomorrow evening. There is one way from Revelstoke to Calgary - the Trans Canada. In the winter, or any season, really, if something happens on that highway, you are hooped.

This reminds me of another story, when we were driving the other direction, from Calgary, and got stopped in construction, and it features some side-of-the-highway dance parties, when the car got too small for our big, excited energy.

Today, however, after an hour-long delay from an accident West of us before picking us passengers up in Revelstoke, we are stuck again. With all the snow that has fallen, the poor trees have a lot of weight to carry, and sometimes, it is too much for them. In this case, a poor soldier fell, and he took some power lines with him, across the highway. So we are stopped for now, until road crews can come and clear the way.

The energy on this bus is great for now, people are just curious about what is happening, and how long we will be stuck, because we didn’t know anything other than that we were stopped behind a line of cars, for about an hour. I decided that while sleeping would probably be the best idea, the most productive idea would be to get out my laptop and start writing. Why? Counter question: why not? For someone who can normally not do much other than watch the road ahead, the idea of getting some work done while sitting en-route somewhere was mighty tempting. So tempting that I have set up camp here in my seat and am typing this.

This wait, and the hour delay on pick-up, means that I will not reach my destination until probably 1 oclock in the morning tomorrow, maybe later if this delay continues much longer - update: I got into Calgary at 02:36. That is a pretty good excuse to be worked up (as someone who truly cherishes her sleep, and has been going to bed around 10 pm each night recently, apres-ski). Even typing that, though, felt weird, because honestly I am grateful that that tree and power lines didn’t fall on us, and I am desperately hoping that it didn’t fall on anything or anyone else.

There is always someone worse off than you. Imagine I was stuck here in a bus with no heat? While it is only -2 outside, it would get chilly pretty quickly. We still have power, so my phone is currently charging and climbing to 100% battery. It is full of things that will keep me entertained for hours. Also, I have cell service, which can be sketchy along this road. Another win. I have snacks. Another win. I have a full water bottle. Win. The bus has a bathroom. Win (although, depending how long this wait is… using it may not feel much like a win, smell-wise! Yet even then, there are people that don’t have toilets.)

I have wool socks, warm boots, a warm jacket to use as a blanket, I have headphones, and a blow-up neck pillow, ear plugs and an eye mask. Win, win, winney-win-win. So many things to be grateful for in this situation, as I know it could be way worse, in so many ways. We could have been hit by the falling tree or hydro lines, I could have had no food or water or have been cramped in this bus (I currently have two seats to myself), and even then a seat is a seat.

Be grateful for whatever comes. An opportunity to work and be creative and productive while stuck on the Trans Canada highway, getting to read your book while your kid is still in karate because they ran late, whatever it may be. Find the silver lining. The situation is going to unfold how it is going to unfold, and you can either fight it and be emotionally and physically exhausted, or you can ride it, and try and enjoy it as best you can. You deserve to enjoy your life, so enjoy your life, no matter how hard that may seem, not just when it is going exactly as planned.

Go find your silver lining, be grateful for whatever comes, and go nourish yourself and those you love.

In great health and happiness,