One of the reasons why I love living in Canada is because of the fall season. I cannot resist the idea of cozy sweaters, warm apple pie, pumpkin spice lattes and Thanksgiving, my favourite holiday, where I get to spend hours and hours happily labouring in the kitchen to create a feast for my loved ones. The season is always a reminder to be grateful for the harvest and abundance in my life, large and small. The majestic colours of the leaves were beckoning me to do a solo road trip, a first for me in October 2017.
Muskoka had always been on my list of places to visit. I just never dreamed I would go on my own and I never thought I’d venture too far on the road after my car accident. But after a successful, inspiring, confidence-boosting solo trip to Australia and New Zealand in June 2017, I had to say “Yes” to the challenge of getting behind the wheel and taking off to scenic cottage country by myself.
With excitement and fear, I booked myself a private room in a stunning, luxurious, rustic air BnB in picturesque Huntsville, that, promised (and delivered) relaxation, and peaceful contemplation, by the calming lake. I had plans to capture the beauty of nature with my camera, get some writing done, work on my life coaching business plans and explore a new place all on my own, hiking and driving. I also had plans to visit four towns in Muskoka to make the most of my four-day getaway.
In the weeks before my departure, I monitored the weather conditions and Fall colours report on the Discover Muskoka website. It was hard for me to predict with the current climate changes, but it turned out that by the time I’d get there, the colours would be past its peak. Darn it. Next time, I’d visit much earlier. I still planned on taking up the challenge.
October 28th, 2017, arrived. I was packed up and ready to go. Upon looking at the weather forecast, I was very disappointed that it was calling for rain for most of the weekend. Even though I had known this for a few days, I found myself begging and pleading that the forecast would be inaccurate.
“Mother Nature, how you gonna play me like that?” I whined and complained.
I got on the highway, and it poured. I found myself gripping the steering wheel, irritated that my first road trip experience didn’t start in ideal weather conditions.
Then I thought of the homeless people outside who had no shelter and there I was complaining inside my comfortable car, with the heat on full blast. I felt like a moron. At that moment, I felt compassion for those people. I truly did.
But still, I went on.
Look, I am not here to be some self-righteous person, pretending to have the perfect attitude and perspective all the time, skimming through life as if I’ve mastered it all. At times, I am just as full of sh*t as the next person who is constipated. Mmkay?
Anyway, I was praying for the rain to stop. Go away! I was concerned about my safety, and I didn’t want another accident to have to deal with ever again. And my fantasies of these beautiful hikes and taking photos through my trip were being ruined. I know! I sound like such a spoiled princess.
I thought about other tricks could I pull. Hmm, I thought I should try to just “Law of Attraction” this away. If I put the right “energy” out there, perhaps, just perhaps….umm, yeah.
Yes, because the weather was going to change just for me. It’s not arrogant is it?
It poured non-stop! The visibility was slightly rubbish. Yet, it was precisely at that brilliant moment that I gained clarity.
The only thing that was left to do was to shift my attitude.
Knowing this, I relaxed my grip on the wheel, took a deep breath, cranked up my music, and enjoyed the magnificent colours of the leaves to my left and right. There was no guarantee that I was going to avoid any potential mishaps. But had I chosen to focus exclusively on this, I was going to miss out on everything I was seeing, which was the whole point of the trip.
When I got to Muskoka, some places I’d hoped to visit had closed for the season, and some were open. I’d visited part of the Oxtongue Rapids trail for a photo opportunity. I was on a lonely, secluded, bumpy, “am I in the right place, will Google Maps work?” kind of road. It is like this in life sometimes, huh? We feel alone, lost, confused, and wonder if we are on track.
I was terrified, my mind racing about all sorts of things, including wildlife and yet I wondered whether my unshaved, hairy legs would have scared them off?
Naturally, my stubbornness kicked in and allowed me to stay with the fear. I couldn’t leave, as the beauty of the rapids drew me in, I had to get out and take pictures. It was worth it.
On my way back home, I decided to take a detour and drive to Port Carling with no particular destination in mind. Before I knew it, I found myself on long windy, country back roads.
What a spectacular drive it was; vibrant yellows, reds, oranges, rust contrasted with the dark grey skies and white flurries! Yes, it snowed that day! This time around, instead of complaining and worrying, I was thrilled to have witnessed a blend of weather conditions that made for the most unique, unforgettable first solo road trip. It felt truly magical.
No matter what our journeys look like, we have our moments of complaining and whining, and we are allowed. At some point, though, the perspective must shift. It doesn’t always have to an all-embracing, loving, “conquered this obstacle” point of view.
Perhaps acceptance is a good starting point. I am in these circumstances. I don’t like them, and I accept it for what it is. I take responsibility for who I can be and what I can do at this moment, and allow the freedom to let life be as it sometimes is. And who knows? You might just be transformed for the better, by the journey, in ways you never imagined.