“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered”
– Nelson Mandela
When I left Canada in the spring of 2012, I was sure that my destiny did not lie on the shores of England. I was enamoured by the freedom of the hills and the sense of individuality that ‘I’ had found. My calling was to be a climber with my band of merry rogues of the road. I still couldn’t really explain this sense of connectivity that I felt out there but was determined to live for this ideal of being my own man. Even though I was deepening my sense of mental identity, had it not been for these early days of burning drive then the Year of the Snake may never have happened.
The tiny screen on board the flight starts rolling the credits for Sherlock Holmes, a nice distraction from the constant roar of the engines directly underneath my vibrating feet which brings me back, with sobering reality, that we are 9km’s above sea level travelling over 500 mph.
The movie is either a marvellous coincidence or a clever placement by Air Transit. Either way, the banter, the British wit, the city of London and overcast sky helps to prepare me for the imminent change of scenery. I switch the screen off and stare out the window. It seems we are in the clouds and have been for quite a while. Of course we are, we’re approaching the British Isles.
Considering i cried my eyes out when I left Canada in 2009, I feel reassuringly calm as I’m flying further and further away from the place I have come to love. Because I am content. I have been walking my own way.
Gliding down through the clouds, we are met with green, in every shade you can imagine! I guess this is the fruit of the constant rain. After living with nothing but snow and ice for the last 3 months the abundance of color is a breath of fresh air. I am pleasantly surprised to be back in the UK, as a visitor.
A week later, in the south of England I sip tea, listening to my favourite black birds sing and start looking for rock climbing venues to visit across the UK. I am hungry for the historic ‘trad’ routes. My mind is restless because I know I cannot stay here in ‘The Shire’. The urge is powerful. The fire needs the fuel. After days of bombarding the UK climbers website for my first trip takes me to the Wye Valley near Bristol then, a friend offers to go for a week in the beautiful Peak district and as it turns out, the Lake district too. (What a treat!) Discovering new places in my homeland gives me huge appreciation for a country I used to resent.
However, I have papers scattered across this desk with how to get to Siurana in NE Spain, somewhere completely new and on my hit list. Got to progress.
This is who I am now. How things have changed.
But my heart knows better. It was delightful to taste my dear grandmothers Sunday lunches, surrounded by family again. I saw my step father give away his daughter in Newcastle with my lovely mum at his side and I got to hang out with my best friends. The ones who are always sorely missed. The buddies who you pick up with from where you left off, the mates who will always have your back.
Some things don’t change.
In this game that we play where adventure is rife and uncertainty is definite, we must cherish the moments that we have with our loved ones as you can never know for sure what might happen out there. But to all those who know me, I hope you understand that I have to go. I need to experience the highs and the lows of this life. If I didn’t, you wouldn’t recognise me anymore.