To whom it may concern,
A lot of people have asked me what will I do with my life, what’s the grand scheme of things. People have poked and prodded and stuck big, ugly noses into my business that now I’m not even sure what’s going on. People look to me with utter confusion when I tell them that I have no idea or not a real care, that somewhere along the way, I’m sure I’ll figure it out. No, in this day and age, you must have a fancy job title with lots of money in order to seem successful, so that you can afford fancy things they flash at you in the media. You must bend over backwards to the fat cats in the big offices, you must have a clean cut look, you must have respectable clothes and talk in a respectable way. Fear your god, pay your taxes and don’t ever step out of line. Don’t question the hand that’s feeding you and how they shove whatever it is that they want down your throat. Don’t have your wits about you. No, you need to keep quiet, keep your head down, and do what you must to blend in with the rest of the sheep. Don’t look to stray off the beaten path.
I’m 23 years old now, and I still have no clue as to what I want from the universe, no clue what my purpose is, what I want to give back to the world. I have spent the past five years wandering wherever it is that I may choose. I am constantly stuck at a fork in the road, unsure of what lays beyond. Back when I was in high school, I was afraid of life and all the madness that comes with it. I let this grey fog of depression creep into my heart, the soft whispers of grief telling me that I wasn’t good enough, that no matter what I did, I would always fail.
It would be a bit of an understatement to say that I have been though a lot in my life. Having grown up on a reservation in the northern parts of Canada, surrounded by the wild, I was brought up by sadness. That is the life of a Native; I grew up with alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and abuse. Some would find it hard to believe that I would ever be quiet, shy, or introverted. But, that is who I was back then. I was always too scared to be myself, to put myself out there and let others see who I really was. The fear of change kept me isolated in places where no one would find me.
There, of course, were others out there that had it a lot worse than I did as a child, but that doesn’t exactly mean that everything’s been perfect on my end. No one gets a life like that. And sometimes, to this very day, I can still hear the screams that cry out from the ones that I have loved. Blood being spilt, vomit splattering the floor. I can still recall the terror I had felt from those I was supposed to put my trust in. I remember days where I ached for food that would never come. I remember rough hands that gripped my neck, voices screeching words that ripped a part of my heart. I watched the happiness drain out of people’s eyes. I’ve watched them all fall apart as chunks of my very being crumbled to the floor. I have experienced a lot of horrible things in this world. A lot of things have took its toll on my short but full life. My body and soul feel weary and torn. For me, I’ve always managed to find the broken-hearted, the lost ones.
There has been an incredible amount of setbacks and extreme discomfort in my life when I decided to take the road less traveled. I’ve gone from volunteer programs, tour guiding, working in a heli-ski lodge, backpacking across the country, spending a season trapped in a winter resort town, and living the urban lifestyle in one of the most beautiful cities in all of Canada. My life has been anything but ordinary, and I am just getting started. I stumble and fall, the universe constantly kicking me in the fucking teeth, ready to take me out – near-death experiences being quite common for me. Tragedy after tragedy has struck my life, from living with crackheads and alcoholics to car accidents. I’ve lost my best friend, suffered mental illness, heart problems, and battled my own addictions. I struggle day to day to keep my footing and not fall off the edge. I’ve loved and lost, I’ve hurt people and made a fool of myself. I’ve been a drunk, wallowed in sadness and grief. I’ve been suicidal and spiteful. I’ve done a lot of horrendous things in my life and a lot of it still haunts me.
But, at the same time, I like to think I’ve done an equal amount of good. I like to think I’ve inspired and gave hope to those in the gutters. I’ve taken in new experiences and triumphed. I worked tirelessly from sunrise to sunset to do whatever job it is that I may have at the time. I’ve discovered a mad passion for writing and photography, and I’ve done whatever it is to share what I could with the world.
I believe in the human connection and that people do come into your life for a reason, whether for good or bad. I would be nothing if it wasn’t for those who I have met in my life. I think of those infinite moments that make you feel alive. I look back to 4am with a beautifully destroyed soul, watching her as she finds shapes in the silhouetted trees, talking of loving darkness. I think back to being trapped in an apartment with two coked-up, steroid-fueled army guys, speaking of when they have taken someone else’s life. I can remember when I have found myself staring at the sunrise in a park with a Russian guy, surrounded by homeless people and crackheads, watching as he screams out to the world “Kill me, kill me now if you must, I will still go down with my pride”. I can remember dancing underneath the northern lights, deep in the wilderness, and epic pub crawls in the big city, all with beautiful human beings. There have been great talks of the universe and love and bittersweet memories. There have been long drives on the open road, hikes up great mountains. There have been fits of laughter and rage and flowing madness. These lovely souls in my life have all had a sense of otherness.
And so, what I’ve realized in the past year in the big city was that I am in love with the perfect stranger. The ones where you’ve only known for those short but tender moments where you can shed your skin and let the monsters come out and play. Strange people with such horrible insides can talk the most beautifully. I miss them all and I will never see their faces ever again. And that’s what I need, that’s all I have to give. For I am a hopeless wanderer, hell bent on being lost and alive. The fact that I have stayed in Vancouver for over a year is a big accomplishment I didn’t see coming. I fought every urge to pack my bags and chase the unknown. I’ve managed to keep my wandering feet still for quite some time now. I feel like I’ve been infected with a disease that keeps me on the outside looking in. I can’t seem to find a reason or sense to live like the others. Maybe it’s just me in my 20’s, or the fact I grew up in a small town that tells you that you are dreaming too big.
I’ve done all that I could to make myself as normal as possible. I tried to walk, talk, and act like the others. But, no matter how hard I try, I am different. I don’t put too much value in the clothes I wear, the quality of food I eat, the kind of bed I sleep on, or if I even need a roof over my head. I’m a struck with an aching desire to see more, discover new possibilities, and to find the ones that set my soul on fire. I am lost, I am lost, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am always dreaming of far off places, unable to stay for too long. I can feel it in my very core, this twinge of excitement gets to me as I see a plane up above, flying to wherever it needs. I long for buses, trains, ferry boats in every direction. I jump when there is scream and laughter in the air, a sense of urgency over-comes me. There is nothing I can do to stop it, for it would be the same as trying not to breathe. Natural instincts take over and lead me to where I need to go. As I sit here, late at night, writing my sweet sorrows, I can feel the need to move again. I want to leave everything and everyone behind again, this gypsy soul to blame. The cold, winter doldrums are over and spring has sprung again, the heat intensifying week after week. Something awakens inside of me as I stare out to the land that stretches out beyond the eyes view. I want to quit my job, ditch my apartment, the friends I have, the life I live. I’ve made a complete fool of myself in this sprawling city, stricken with grief and insanity after having lost someone I loved dearly. I’ve changed and altered in different ways and unable to recognize myself when I see my reflection. I need to start again and leave behind the mistakes and blunders, the shame of the drunken idiot I became. I need to not be this monster I’ve become.
What if I could go back and undo all that has been done, right the things that have been wrong? What if, if I, given the chance, could make something better than what already is? I think about those horrible late nights, all alone with nothing but the whispers of grief. I think about how sometimes I’m just not alright. How words escape me and leave me dumbfounded. I wish for brighter, sunny days, but know I’ll be just drowning in grey.
A lot of people are uncomfortable with the fact that I say these things. A lot of people don’t want to talk to me anymore when they find out what’s really going on in my head. A lot of people wish to fix me and slap a shiny sticker on my head that says “APPROVED”. But over the past little while, the past few months of me trying to sort the mess that is my life, I think I’ve discovered something about myself and the life I’ve lived; I can’t regret a damn thing. And the reason why is because I believe this has all been for something, hasn’t it? What if all the pain and struggling, the gasping for breath and clawing at my insides, what if it all was to lead to something amazing? What if, if I didn’t suffer the way I did, I wouldn’t have ended up where I am? And let me tell you something, these past 23 years of my life have been something amazing. Ghosts and terrors and all. I would go back in time and go through it all again just to end up to this moment exactly.
I think about the fact that if I didn’t end up hating my small town the way I did when I was younger, if I hadn’t been called a weirdo, a dork, a loser. If I didn’t have to watch so many people that I have loved drown themselves in alcohol and drugs, and let abuse and violence control their lives. If I didn’t have to grow up in poverty, constantly feeling hunger aching through my body. If I just had a nice and normal life, where would I be? Would I have met the beautiful humans that I have met so far? Would I have thrown my life into the unknown and ended up in the places that I have lived? Would I still be a photographer, a writer, a dreamer at heart? Would I have this much compassion for the underdogs and the ragged people on the streets? Would I be in love with universe the way I am now?
Because, I’m a person that believes in setting your insides on fire. I believe that we all need a little chaos and uncertainty in our lives. I believe that you always need to question and doubt yourself if you ever want to grow. There is no one side to life. You don’t get just one story, one love, one path to choose. The amount of money in your bank account, the clothes you were, how prim and proper you act in public amounts to no shit. Screw the rules, screw expectations. Go into the deep ends of the water and take risks that could potentially hurt you. Give your heart away and say “why not?”. I think that’s what most people are afraid of in this world. No one wants live anymore, just exist. It’s all about being safe and secure, no one willing to go along with their wild heart. It’s about sticking with the latest trends and making sure you’re like the others to fit in. We are taught to fear heartache and that hell is a bad place. No one will tell you that despair and grief can be beautiful. No one will tell you that the struggle, the fight of life can be truly amazing. It’s either a pavement of gold or nothing worth living at all. People forget to tell you that the road you go down doesn’t have to be perfect, that if you find yourself at a crossroad, the decision is yours alone to make. But, no matter what, you have to make that decision. No one else can make it for you. Which ever path you may choose, that will be the one you are meant for.
And hey, maybe this is just who I am today, and quite possibly tomorrow as well. Maybe, one day, I’ll wake up and not even able to recognize this life I’m living or the way I had felt. I have no fucking clue.
And I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.