Oh Canada

                        “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us

The world beckons us – we reach out to it, we follow its call,
but eventually home calls us back…

Wednesday morning, Westjet holding pen after having gone through umpteen checks and line ups already – waiting to board
I began chatting with the woman sitting next to me – Danielle Newman – a marine archeologist from the prairies – on leave from her job working in the Black Sea – such an interesting encounter – turns out her mom and auntie were good friend’s of my mom and would often babysit my brother and I when we were kids.
Two prairie girls on their way home – returning to the place where space creates perspective – I feel myself breathe deeply and fully – ready to be renewed by the silence of birdsong and breezes –

I arrived back in Calgary on Wednesday afternoon after an amazing flight home – clear skies almost the entire way. We saw the north of Scotland, it was cloudy over Iceland, but Greenland was stunning – outstanding really and then all the way home – over the arctic, Hudson’s bay, Manitoba all clear – a bird’s eye view of the earth, illuminated by sunshine and blue sky –

I feel lucky to have been able to see it, apparently it almost never happens. Instead of feeling dwarfed by the vastness, the starkness, the beauty, I felt connected to it – to something beyond words – as though my small part of that vastness is somehow necessary, maybe even important in invisible ways…interesting –  like a feeling of belonging, a piece of the puzzle essential to the whole.

Coming back to Canada – strange limbo place, landed but not yet arrived – empty place quite disorienting – then home – the place you’ve lived for the last 18 yeas…it all felt so empty somehow, devoid of people and noise, chaos and confusion – quiet!

I found myself becoming travel weary the last few weeks – the airports, the flights, the trains, the trams, the tubes, the suitcase schlepping, the stairs…the endless stairs!! – the noise, the lack of fresh air – so I was ready to go home – looking forward to staying put for a while, having time and space to sort through the last 4 months…Finland, Germany, France, Spain, Britain, Scotland …..

34 years ago I went to Europe and the UK to see everything that I had studied and learned about while at university – I wanted to see real art and architecture, not just slides projected on a wall, and second rate reproductions in books. So for just under a year I travelled with a friend throughout Europe seeing as much of everything as possible…
This time I went to feel the energy of place  – I wanted to feel the pulse of Europe and the UK – to tap into the emotional heartbeat of the people  – to see what I had not seen the first time I was there – to focus on what had changed and how in the last 34 years.
I went abroad to make art, to bring my ‘hai’ lights installations to another country, to bring my version of ‘light’ to northern Europe in the deep of winter –
I went to wander through the landscape, to intersect with the lives of others.
I met some great people, had some great conversations, made some great connections.
People are curious – you’re travelling alone?
They want to know where you’re from, where you’ve been, where you’re going?
Some people ask a lot of questions, some people just listen –
People love Canadians –  as Canadians we should never underestimate this!!
they love talking to us because we are considerate, generally well informed and polite –
It opens doors and doors open conversations, and conversations open people’s hearts and minds. Conversations inspire, affirm, confirm, and sometimes change people – conversations are critical!
They want to know what I think about the political madness –
I want to know what they think! Turns out we’re all thinking the same thing!
I’ve been writing about some of those conversations for future blogs.

My travels tracing a trajectory across the ocean,
a map highlighted -‘hai’ lighted with the
highlights – ‘hai’ lights of my journey,
leaving energetic traces of me along the way –

I wont miss Air B’B or Easyjet, French drivers or Scottish roads…or airports that force you to walk through the perfume corridor, while further assaulting your senses with bad music, with restaurants that charge exorbitant prices for food that shouldn’t even be called food, and screaming kids who just want to stay home!

But already I am missing the freedom of roaming, the challenge of adapting, of being resourceful, of being surprised everyday by something or someone, serendipity and synchronicities, the countries, the conversations, the connections –
Everyday waking up to the wonder of a new day in a new place, making new memories, seeing new things, never knowing what was going to happen or where the road would take me – I will miss those things –

And now before I have time to adequately reflect on the last 4 months,  I find myself having to plan a project with a colleague for later in August/Sept, bringing ‘hai’ lights to Iceland. Because Iceland is so expensive we will be crowdfunding to help offset some of the costs. Much to organize.

Eventually my thoughts will find their way here where you will be able to read  more about my travels….and updates on Iceland.

In the meantime, enjoy spring and all of its amazing energy and beauty.

Louise
Okori

Saturday morning   6:30a    April 13th
Sunday afternoon    5:30p April 21st

5 Comments

  1. susiestine says:

    Dear Louise, I have been thinking about you wondering when you would surface as having been away for so long would mean needing time to settle back home.  What beautiful writing.  Can’t wait to hear about how you are doing. Perhaps we could text and figure out a time to chat on the phone.  Welcome home.  xox

  2. Astrid says:

    🥰
    You‘re gold ! ❤️
    Hope your new project will work out well!

  3. Marilyn Oliver says:

    Welcome home Louise – in your musings you’ve managed to capture the essence of traveling and your own personal journey. Very insightful and relatable. Would love to catch up with you next time we’re in Calgary.

  4. Diana says:

    Hi Louise,
    So good to hear your thoughts and hear of your adventures in the world! Your writings of your journeys make me feel I was on your travels with you! Let’s talk soon.
    Love Diana

  5. Juan Vargas says:

    Great to know you are back in Canada!
    Hopefully all that you experienced the last months will now have chance to be processed, and get in place.
    Intrigued to know in what way you are different now, after such an amazing journey!
    All the very best!
    Juan

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