Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Wisdom of Ontarians (or a few things we heard along the way)

These days when you turn on the news on the TV or open your email or facebook you are typically bombarded with rants, commentary, and critiques.  Everyone's got an opinion and increasingly it seems that it isn't the smart idea, or the moral perspective that wins out but merely the loudest voice.  It doesn't matter how bombastic or how absurd the view is, if it can spouted enough and heard over everyone else then it is taken as news, as as fact, and as the socially accepted view.

The result of this shift (I think) is that we all move into a defensive posture - whether with family or friends, making choices about what to eat or watch, or simply talking about the world.  We are surrounded by critique and so we become increasingly critical and cynical.  In turn this means that we stop listening to the opinions and ideas of others and simply brace ourselves to attack or to be attacked.  I suspect that the problems of our world - of which there are many - would be easier to address if we weren't all so jaded and ready with our responses before others have finished talking.  It might sound hokey but the things I have learned while trekking just by listening are some of the best life lessons I have received.  

I suppose we have the advantage over many today.  We have the time to listen and are often so tired after a day of hiking that when someone comes up to us and begins to chat we simply don't have the energy to do more than listen.  On the surface this might seem horrid - like being stuck on a bus or an airplane next to the person who won't leave you be.  Ultimately however it has been one of the best parts of our trek across Canada - just quietly listening to those around us and receiving their wisdom.  

There are so many people today - even those with family and friends - who sadly seem very lonely, and who seem to just to want to talk to someone who listens.  I have come to see that what regular people and strangers on the street have to say is a gift for us, just as being able to give them a few minutes back to listen to them is a gift  for them. 

With that said, Ontario has been vast and a long trek and we have had the opportunity to be given lots of inspirational stories and advice along the way.  With the border of Ontario on the horizon, we impart to you the wisdom of Ontarians.

Our profound thanks to every person who took a few minutes from their lives to share themselves, their beliefs, options, their hopes and their dreams with us!  


(1) You can sympathize, you can try to empathize, and you can help us to have a voice by amplifying what needs to be said, but you can’t have my experience. You can only watch, learn and try to be a better person.

(2) So many of us try so hard to change our community and our little piece of land, but there are so many interests that want credit, so many organizations that hold things up so that they can be noticed, and politicians who want to keep issues rather than solve one thing and move onto the next.  Change comes from the hard work of small groups of often unsung, unnoticed, and un-praised individuals in every community you will travel through. But change does happen. 

(3) There are two types of people, those who want to  appear to do something and those who do it. 

(4) Perception is the issue, how we perceive our communities, our environment, and one another.  If we presume something about the world it changes our perception.  However if we take the time to learn and see what is actually going on in our neighbourhoods then so much can be seen differently and therefore approached and resolved in a different manner.  That's why you need new faces, new identities and new people doin their best out there.  Because we new new perspectives! 

(5) It’s all about keeping your eyes open.  Whether it is out in nature or in life.  If you don’t keep your eyes open then you won’t see what is around you, you won’t discover what is new, won’t find out what you don’t know, and won’t see how much beauty is out there.  It is perhaps the biggest challenge in getting youth outdoors – getting them to open their eyes to everything that is out there for them to discover.  Once nature is seen, once nature is in your eyes, you can’t stop seeing it and experiencing it.  


(6) Trust and believe in those things that you have experienced yourself, seen yourself and done yourself. 

(7)  If you need to be online while enjoying nature, you're missing the point (a Provincial Park warden)

(8) People need to expect more of themselves, everyday in every thought, in every comment, and in every action.  We each need to hold ourselves to the highest standard.  That’s the only way we all get through this together and make the world better. 

(9) Travelling, especially if you are cycling or hiking, restores your faith in humanity!  People are so much nicer and kinder than you will ever expect.  Sure there are a few challenging individuals along the way, but compared to the wonderful kindness of others they will fade into the background of your adventure! 

(10) Listen to those more experienced than you - you'll learn a lot.

(11) Enjoy today, because you aren’t promised tomorrow.

(12) Live simply from day to day.  Life has enough challenges - that are going to take rethinking everything from the environment to poverty to race.  If we don’t live simply to begin with then we just muddle up our world with problems of our own creation and don’t have the energy we need to deal with the real stuff coming our way.

(13) Respect nature out here, or it will humble you and make you respect it. 

(14) No matter how “old” you get, keep going, keep discovering, keep exploring and never forget to keep your eyes and mind open.  The world is amazing, don’t shut yourself off to it!  


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