Wherever you go, there you are.

It’s a little unusual for me to tell stories, but this thought came up and I wanted to share it. Hear me out on this, I promise there’s a good ending.

A Canadian couple goes on vacation to a beautiful island; it’s like paradise for them. They have done well in life, and are considering a change. The thought of moving to this island would be amazing.

One morning while they were walking along the beach they ran into a local, older gentleman. They asked him, “We are thinking of moving to this island from Canada because it’s so beautiful. Have you loved living here?”

The older gentleman replied back with a question, “Tell me what your community is like where you’re from in Canada?”

The couple answered, “OH, we have wonderful neighbours. The community is kind, and we really enjoyed raising our kids there!”

The older gentleman remarked, “Well, I am sure you will find the same thing here then.” And smiled.

The couple, elated with the response from the gentleman, skipped away contemplating the potential move – full of joy.

A few days later the older gentleman was faced by the same question from another couple. The older man responded the same way, “What is the community like where you are from?”

The second couple frowned, “Well honestly – we can’t wait to move. People are edgy, almost unkind. Neighbours yell at each other, it is at the point we don’t want to walk in the neighbourhood anymore.”

The older gentleman paused, “Hmmm, I am sorry to say that you will likely find the same thing here.”

The couple looked downcast, and walked away disappointed. 

Why did the older gentleman give two different answers to the same question? What did he know?

Wherever you go,  there you are. What you bring to your surroundings will make (or break) any experience.

I have reflected on this story in my own life, mostly pertaining to where I want to live. I enjoy cycling, back country skiing, and being outdoors in general. My family loves our home, but I had a feeling of dissatisfaction because I perceived the inability to engage in activities that give me joy. I thought, maybe we should move to BC, another part of town, or some kind of change in general.

On one of my dog walks with my wife, Heike, I was trying to explain these feelings. Heike was more silent, just listening to what I had to say. Then I had a moment of grace, a revelation really.

I said to her, “Actually, you have never stopped me from doing anything I had wanted to do; whether it be to ski, bike, compete in Ironman races, any of it.”

She said, “Nope.”

It was all my perception and conceived notions that were creating most of my internal conflict. Change is hard and unsettling. It is very worthwhile if it’s FOR something, and not just change for change sake.

The moral of the story is that wherever you go, you’re always bringing yourself! Until you work on the inside, the outside will never change. 

Dr. Payne

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