Blog.

Learning to Celebrate.

This week is a throwback all the way to my birthday. Oddly enough, I’m not a fan of birthdays or celebrations in general. Now to justify my obscure feelings when it comes to naturally enjoyed human events, I have to say I’ve just never learned how to properly celebrate. Not only celebrate but feel joy from celebrating something momentous. Occasionally there are moments in life where I feel a child-like joy and then am reminded or someone else has the honour of pointing out how ‘weird’ or ‘odd’ it is to be content and joyful due to said thing. I’ve grown used to this friendly ridicule, although, I think there is still a subconscious insecurity when it comes to expressing joy and happiness around people. As most faults in my personally that I’m aware of, I am working on this and hope to continue growing to the point where I can fully embrace the joy that can be felt from the celebration of good things. Until then I am so thankful to have people in my life like Paul and especially my wonderful wife, Celine, who show me what it looks like to have a good time in life!

I should mention that Paul fell through the ice in the middle of February. This was after an hour drive and probably only being there for 20 minutes. Fortunately he was ok but we had to drive back and crank the heat in the vehicle so his extremities wouldn’t shatter off is frozen body.

Another Adventure Brought To You By Paul.

I'm a pretty strong believer that there should be people in your life who break your comfort zones on a frequent basis. Now the majority of my friends consistently create these scenarios in my life, and I’m not complaining, but Paul tends to do this more than most. The images below are from our 'short 2km hike to a gorgeous hot spring' that we did at the beginning of winter. Now if you’re familiar with any of my other escapades with Paul, you’ll know that his descriptions of difficulty and distance leave much to be desired. Immediately, I should have known to double the distance and maybe even triple it. In addition to the drastically undermined length of this hike, I should have really taken into consideration the difficulty when he was packing long rope and seemingly over preparing for a basic hike. I mean judging by his description of the end goal being a hot spring I just assumed any city girl wanting a new Instagram photo could easily navigate their way to this location. In one way it’s accurate because there is a pretty well-defined trail. It isn't until we reached the saddle between the two mountains where I really started to contemplate the simplicity of Paul’s description.

As we stoically stood, catching our breath, the arduous next few kilometres were right in from of us. Due to the immense amount of wind, the paths from previous people hiking to the hot spring were completely covered. We waited for a few fellow hikers on the trail to pass by so we could proceed along the uncomfortably steep trail that was sheltered from the wind. We wrapped around the corner that you can see Paul and Celine posing on when the wind really decided to escalate my trepidation. The four of us hesitantly made our way along the side of the snow-covered shale and then Sam (Paul's wife) slipped and began sliding down. She managed to dig her feet into the icy snow to slow her decent but we were all stunned. In the exact same spot Celine proceeded to do the exact same thing and then I think Paul might have just done it for fun. Regardless all three of them were not 50 feet further down the mountainside than I was and to their fortune, a little closer to our destination.

After walking a few more kilometres since the saddle, we arrived at the hot spring without any additional company. I didn't get in the water due to some sort of phobia of being wet for non-utilitarian purposes but it was exceptional being able to observe a serene and relatively unknown landscape. After everyone had time to soak in the warm waters and dry off in the relentlessly cold wind, we began hiking back for home.

Just this past long weekend we had the pleasure of hanging out with Paul and Sam again where more adventures occurred. I'll be posting about in the upcoming weeks so thanks again for reading and it would mean a lot if you shared any of my work with someone you think would enjoy joining in the journey.

The Concept of 'Fun.'

What does fun mean to you? Take a minute and think about it, deeper than mere activities.

I’m entirely unaware of what might have just passed through your mind and that idea alone is fun for me to ponder. Somewhat of an odd statement, I know. For some time I’ve been perplexed by the concept of fun. Often mutual confusion occurs when various concepts of fun are exchanged. Currently, I have no desire to experience an adrenaline rush. I’m not sure if many young people are aware but that chemical release occurs in order for us to survive during dangerous situations. I can't help but ask, why would one desire for that mechanism to kick in?Honestly, I don't know and the idea of it is already exhausting me.

The irony of this topic is that the majority of my friends yearn for such a chemical rush to infiltrate their bodies while undergoing dangerous activities. In an attempt to be a good friend I try to engage in some of the activities but I simply become drained during the time of adrenaline endorsed activity. What really excites me is knowing I'm pushing myself outside my comfort zone and learning to adapt to adversity. I'm sure people affirm the same thing while searching for the next adventure, although I think it might be a little different. My primary reason is that it seems as though there are two contrasting sides; the intelectual and physical. You can observe this balance perfectly when watching high-level athletes perform. They are forced to react perfectly on a physical level, as well as, to be mindful of the upcoming play. Personally, the mental part of sports and even video games are what I find exhilarating. Testing the intellect of others and myself in a way that brings about an unexpecting competition is what I can only describe as fun.

I'd love to hear how you perceive the cultural luxury of fun. The photos below are from an extremely windy day of skating in the middle of Two Jack Lake. Enjoy!

2018: The Year of Living Well!

     I'm sure you're thinking a more intriguing title should have been 'The Year of Adventure!' And of course I wish that was something I could promise or had plans for but at this moment there really isn't much on the calendar when it comes to adventures of grandeur. This being said, it's pretty much inevitable that I'll go on some sort of trip to somewhere new and exciting. Since I first started traveling in highschool my life has been filled with relatively regular excursions. I feel beyond privileged to have already been exposed to such a vast variety of cultures, and bucket list worthy experiences. From traveling overseas for 9 months, bungee jumping, a multitude of hikes in gorgeous locations, camping in the Tibetan Autonomous region, white water rafting, snowboarding in the Caucasus, and many more thrills have all provided me with a unique perspective on what it means to live. Some people have an unquenchable thirst for adrenaline, others yearn for more knowledge, and then there are those who crave irreplaceable relationships. There's so much value in each pursuit and people go their entire lives seeking fulfillment through various means but what does it mean to live a well lived life? I'm not only referring to a morally good, or an exciting, or productive life but merely a life that was spent well and responsibly. This lone, deeply perplexing question is one that I think has been on my mind for a long time and only recently have I been pondering it in such a stripped down form.

(side note, I figured this post can be a little longer because I took a long break from writing and have a lot of thoughts building up. Now lets hope I make sense)

     Most people would think that this question could be answered in a variety of ways depending on ones geographical region, religious experience, financial situation, race, gender, etc., but if we are all human should there not be an objective answer for what it would look like to live well during our finite time on Earth? This is where I feel some internal conflict because I want to say there is, objectively, a correct way to progress through life that transcends our personal experiences. Although from what I've observed in so many unique cultures and what society is pushing towards, I don't know if I can stand firm on such a claim without inescapable pushback. It's easy to look at certain actions and concur that it was a good choice. For example, being environmentally responsible, doing helpful things for others, opposing injustice, or even just positively contributing to your community. But I'm unsure if it's possible to rate or scale life achievements in a way that would show what living well could optimally appear as. If there's a farmer in rural China who has an intimate understanding of their crops, the land, their community, and contributes unsparingly to others in need, in what way would we compare that to someone living in a North American city who buys ethically or locally made goods, feeds the poor, helps the elderly, and volunteers inexhaustibly?  

     Even for myself I've worked through various aspirations, all the way from wanting to be a professional soccer player, to a high level commercial photographer in marketing, to now possibly a farmer  or something environmentally related. Each time I'm going down one of these paths I have to ask how can I use that career or choice to positively impact the world around me. I know that sounds like a stereotypical millennial sentiment but I genuinely think that's one of the greatest convictions our generation has to offer the planet. It poses the question of how can we make choices that result in living well so that others can also live well? It forces us to make conscious decisions that intentionally influence our communities directly or even indirectly. Now going back to the question of what does it mean to live a well lived life: wouldn't the logical conclusion be to live in a way that is moving towards restoring Shalom on Earth?

     Thanks so much for checking out the first post of 2018 (especially the McLean's haha). I've included photos from my favourite adventure last year where Celine and I road tripped to Kamloops and our truck broke down literally the furthest spot from home. Lastly, if you have any comments or thoughts I'd love to hear them!

My Friend Caleb.

I simply have nothing to say about Caleb…

     Just kidding! Caleb was the best man at my wedding and honestly he’s been one of the biggest supports in my life. He’s helped me through countless dilemmas over the years and continues to help me process various thoughts. We grew up going to camp for 1-2 weeks each summer with that being our only contact over the 365-day year. Thanks to modern technology we managed to maintain our friendship, over what seemed to be an eternity, and it seemed like those weeks at camp were total gold each time. He’s endured countless awkward encounters between Celine and I when we first start liking each other and he’s probably the reason why we ended up dating in the first place. I’m so thankful to have a guy who is willing to listen to my thought process and say, “I told you so or I disagree” if I need to be humbled a bit. There’s a lifetime of stories I could share and many more that I know will happen but it would be a disservice to not share an unforgettable hike we experienced.

     I think it was my first year of college when Caleb and I decided to venture to the mountains and hike Ha Ling Peak. This was my first winter hike and I wasn’t really sure what to expect but Caleb, a more experienced hiker and outdoorsmen than myself, seemed to be extra prepared. As we started walking up the path I soon realized winter hiking with a heavy camera bag is a lot more exhausting than in the summer on dry ground. It wasn’t too long into the trek that we had to delayer and try to prevent ourselves from sweating on what seem to be a beautiful sunny day. This going and stopping proceeded for the following three hours with stops at nearly every switchback. I’m not sure why we were struggling so much but needless to say, it was an unexpectedly long way up. We managed to emerge from the tree line and enter into the thigh high snow to begin the scramble towards the summit. It was also at this point that a guy who was trail running passed us in what could only be described as Speedo length shorts. Partially discouraged and disgusted we continued through the deep snow but it was also around this time the wind drastically picked up. We thought it would be a safe bet to bunker down behind a waste high tree to eat some of our snacks and make a cup of tea.

     After eating, drinking, resting, and waiting for the wind to die down, there were even more ominous clouds than before so we made the call to head back rather than exhaust ourselves and summit. Just a recap, three exhausting hours up, one man with short shorts, a storm rolling in, and a summit less hike was our day so far. Somewhat disheartened, neither of us wanted to hike back down so when we saw faint grooves in the snow connecting one switchback to the next we were optimistically curious. It was only after seeing them twice that Caleb decided to slide down a short one. I tried the next one where we managed to cut out a good 2 minutes off hiking. As you might have guessed we made the call to just keep sliding. We slid, and slid, and slid, and at some points we were going so fast that we had to grab onto trees to slow down and regain control! Other than the odd log grinding across our backsides it was an absolute blast! Multiple times we paused to make sure we still had an idea of where the trail was and in what seemed to be a mater of seconds we made it to the bottom. The three-hour hike up had just been completed in 30 minutes by sliding down on our butts. It honestly felt like we were in a fairy tale or a scene from The Hobbit. The childlike joy I felt afterwards was unlike anything I remember, which is why I think it has left such an impression on both of us.

     That’s probably one of my favorite hiking memories and I’m looking forward to the future days where Caleb and I create more stories like this one. Thanks again for reading and if you were curious the photos below are also from our hike to Troll Falls in Kananaskis.