You wanna know how lucky I am? Last weekend I was in Whistler, British Columbia, skiing – shredding the mountain as the ski bums like to say. Well it really wasn’t all that glamorous. I was supervising 17 teenagers from the high school I teach at. And I hardly shred anything because my ski skills are not the greatest. But I digress…
When you visit British Columbia you cannot help but marvel at the province’s beauty. The mountains and trees and sea – the combination makes you wonder why anyone would want to live anywhere other than this majestic setting. There were a couple of moments while skiing at Whistler when I came to a graceful stop on the mountain and, dressed in the battle armour of the weekend ski warrior, looked out through my goggles and soaked in the beauty. Breathtaking. Stunning. Awesome (I am using that word the way it is supposed to be used – not like when people see Lady Gaga in a big egg and say, ‘Dude, that’s awesome.’).
The ‘why would anyone want to live anywhere else’ thought echoed through my mind for the four days I was in B.C. But there was a competing thought that brought me back home. My wife Sharon asked me to text her at the end of each day to confirm that I was still alive. I obliged and was able to report that all muscles were in a manageable state of discomfort and my bones were fracture free. In one of her return texts she wrote, “Glad you’re OK. Just got back from walking his lordship.” In that moment – in so few words – my heart went zooming back home.
While picturing Sharon and ‘his lordship’ Reilly roaming our neighbourhood, my heart and mind would remind me of the majesty of my own luck. I’d see the beauty of my relationships: with my wife, my sons, my family, and my friends. And, of course, I’d remember my faithful dog, Reilly.
So when the day came for me to return home, I marveled at the descent from Whistler to Squamish. I looked for hidden images on the rock-face of “the Chief” as we turned onto the Sea to Sky highway. I watched the inlets turn to ocean as we approached Vancouver. I even allowed the rocky mountain backdrop of Vancouver’s cityscape to take my breath away. By the time I got on the plane, I had lived a lot of memorable moments.
But there is more to life than memorable moments. Life is about connections. This little piece of writing is inspired by the connections I have made with my wife, my sons and even my dog. Memorable experiences serve their purpose but they don’t bring fulfillment. Connections are what bring fulfillment.
Reilly has taught me this valuable lesson time and again. As a pack animal, Reilly’s priority is to keep the pack together and, where possible, to bring newcomers into the pack. Whenever I leave the house, he mopes before slipping into a deep sleep. Before I come home, he moves on top of a small couch that looks out an upstairs window so that he can watch me drive up our driveway. And when I come in that door, he greets me with an enthusiasm that I don’t really deserve.
When I arrived back in Toronto, I was welcomed home by Sharon with a tender kiss and some warm words. A relieved reunion for both of us. And when I got to our house, Reilly greeted me with a frenetic tail wag and a gentle mauling of my hands. He missed me and he showed it by bringing me back into the pack.
The great finish to my homecoming early the next morning. I sleepily responded to the call of nature and, when I crawled back into bed, I curled into my wife. She let out a happy, heavy sigh. A few seconds later there was an elegant thump on our bed. It was Reilly. He doesn’t normally jump up on the bed but I guess he wanted to make sure I was still home. I petted him for a minute or two and then he settled down. There I was – sandwiched between the love of my life on one side and the dog of my life on the other. We were all connected.
Why would I want to live anywhere else?