My time in Vancouver has been quiet and mostly spent alone, and it’s everything that I wanted it to be. I spent the past 48 hours exploring the city by foot and bus since the rain has been coming and going, and biking didn’t seem like it was going to happen.
People here seem really friendly and polite. I heard “thank you!” many times being shouted to the driver from the back of the bus as passengers departed. I saw plenty of strangers strike up conversations with each other on the sidewalk. Runners jogged in groups and laughed together. And I wandered alone as an observer in a city that I’d been romanticizing for years, and I never felt out of place.
I wondered if the people making eye contact with me and smiling on the streets were just being extra friendly, or if I was only noticing the kindness now that I’m feeling better about myself.
The natural beauty of massive Stanley Park left me speechless. I started walking just to see the outskirts, but the beauty kept drawing me farther inwards. Before I knew it I had walked about 4km along the Seawall and passed the halfway point. My legs and knees were starting to tire, but my mind was calm and my eyes amused.
The crowd thinned out at a certain point (aside for those with bikes) and I walked for a little while longer before I wondered if I should turn back. The route that I came from was familiar, and I knew I could be out of the park in about just under an hour if I turned back. But the way forward was unknown and could be more beautiful than the rest, though for all I knew the path could also be longer, more elevated, and my knees might have given in without notice (relevant since I have a recent history of knee pain). I was awfully hungry too; a meal might have been a good choice before entering the park.
We’re faced with these decisions of where to go on a daily basis, but for me, I really start weighing the options when I’m spending time alone. We can go back to what we know, or we can press onward. The risks going forward can be heightened, but so too are the rewards. The benefits of going forward ended up being taking a few nice photos and finding a quiet, relaxing stream inside the park.
Whenever I came to a fork in the road, I wondered which one was the right one to take. After all, one might have yielded a more beautiful photo and landscape than the other. But neither trail is correct or better, they’re different and relevant in their own ways. The fact that we even choose to take either is key. And it once again comes down to how we reflect on our choices.
If we take the ‘wrong’ path, it’s only because we let our minds think it’s wrong. Countless tourists have stood in front of beautiful monuments and said they weren’t worth seeing. Though I wonder if they even saw it at all when they rushed to snap a photo and leave. It seems far easier for them to say they should have gone somewhere nicer instead of just appreciating where they were.
The next time I decide to take a contemplative walk in nature to clear my head, I’ll look for the beauty in wherever I end up. The direction I take is far less important.
In what setting do you do your best big-thinking?