Four years ago, I took a couple of my friends out along a lesser-known trail to “the blow hole” – a formation of rock cliffs which funnel the ocean waves up and into an impressive spray, like a whale’s blow hole.
It was a magical day, with a sobering footnote: that’s the day our crap-box 1986 Toyota Tercel started to struggle with hills. We could not afford to repair it, so we very quickly reconciled ourselves to life in Tofino without a car. It was the beginning of a 2.5 year financial rebuilding phase which saw us biking through all weather, all year long. It was tough, but we didn’t resist the change. We embraced it, and our friend commented on how rapidly we made the mental adjustment, with little outwardly expressed stress.
This, our housing situation, reminds me of that day, when we embraced the inevitable and sold our car for $500 before it broke down completely.
We have learned to weather these transitions in this way because we have become aware of how much resistance drains energy and compounds stress. We don’t need or want that, and once you’ve really mastered the art of letting go, it becomes a reflex.
It’s like you’re swinging on a vine, and you feel it start to give. You could grip to it all the tighter, bemoan the reasons for it breaking, try to repair it before it gives way – or you can focus on the next vine… and leap.
I’m not a big fan of phrases like, “leap and the net will appear!” This has not been our life’s experience. Leap and learn how to land. Leap and learn how to roll. Leap, aim high, and land strategically.
That’s what we’re doing here.
I’m amazed at the mental shift this change has caused for me. When the vine is breaking, and you KNOW you’re going to leap, you stop thinking about whether this spot or that spot might be better to swing to. When you have to make a decision *now* it’s a lot easier to sort through your feelings.
There is *nothing* for sale, or for rent, in our local market, that we can afford. That could change, we might get lucky, but it very well could be the breaking vine.
We may have to return to civilization.
For ten years, we have lived without easy access to mainstream retailers. The pharmacy closes at 5pm, and the grocery store at 8pm. If your car needs a repair, they can fit you in sometime next week.
It’s a town where few people lock their doors, and many still leave their car keys in the visor or dash. Lots of folks go on unemployment in the winter, and everyone tries to sell their stuff at the same time to drum up cash.
It’s also beautiful. It’s wild! There are eagles, cougars, wolves and orcas! There are thousand year old trees, and the billion year old ocean! In our ten years here, NONE OF THIS has gotten old for me! I love it just as much now, as ever.
But Ucluelet and Tofino requires sacrifice to stay here, housing is a big sacrifice. If we were determined to stay, we could probably rent a house with roommates… but we have done that already. We just are not that determined. We have already sacrificed quite a lot to live here.
We are getting comfortable with letting go, getting excited for our new adventure. It will be an adventure – a return to society after ten years in isolation. A return to a job market with multiple options for both of us. A return to a place with other queer people, with academia, and *food delivery*.
When we started adding up all the ways our rural isolation is consistently challenging in basic survival needs, let alone flourishing enough to plan for retirement one day, we realized that the bloom is off the Nootka rose. Perhaps we are being pushed because it’s simply time to go, and we’ve been resistant to making this change of our free will.
Every time I feel into the future intuitively, I see my spirit family there, smiling and reassuring, giving me optimism and encouraging me to let go…