Richard Wagamese wrote in his book For Joshua: An Ojibway Father Teaches His Son that the most important lesson of all is this: “the journey is the teaching, and proof of the truthfulness of all things comes secretly, mysteriously, when you find yourself smiling when you used to cry, and staying staunchly in place when you used to run away.”
These words. I’m holding them tightly and zipping them up in my coat pocket. I’m carrying their weight with me each day. They used to be a lot heavier, but now they feel like the air I breathe in; simply a part of me and necessary for survival.
When I read these words something stirred. Again, I find myself in the middle of yet another transition and yet for the first time in what feels like forever, I’m not trying to run away (though the desire to definitely still exists). Truthfulness comes when we least expect it. Smiling when you used to cry, and staying staunchly in place when you used to run away.
I’m moving again; hopefully this place will stick for a few decades. That thought used to horrify me. Decades. Who could ever commit to something like that when there was so much of the world to see and so many things to experience. How can people be expected to stay put, when once upon a time we were all nomads?
Since 2010, I’ve lived in 13 homes, in 6 different cities. Not just traveling from place to place homes. Full on having to pack up my books and clothes and art supplies and mattress homes. I craved disorder and shunned stability in hopes that I’d find truth and purpose in this state of constant change. Staying put meant I had to commit, not just to a location, but to myself. When you’re constantly on the move, you don’t have time to dissect and truly, deeply discover the essence of your being. I was scared to find out that I wasn’t talented and that I was incapable of anything meaningful, and so I ran.
I ran for so long.
But pain follows you.
It followed me from Waterloo to Kingston, from Ottawa to Europe, and back. There were even pieces of it lingering in Port Hope.
Until I stopped moving, I couldn’t handle any of the mental or physical trauma I’d experienced. It was so easy to avoid.
And the fear never leaves. It's there, always. I'm wary of appearing too excited about this next move because a little piece of me still holds onto my old instinct to flee. It's struggling with accepting this new truth; the fact that I finally belong somewhere...permanently.
Now, here in this moment, I smile instead of crying, and I stay put when I couldn’t easily run away.
Our journey is our greatest teacher. Trust your journey. Travel. Move. But don’t be afraid to stop. Don’t be scared of committing to a place and yourself. Explore who you were, make amends, and grow into the person you were meant to become; because that’s our purpose and the destination all roads lead us to.