So Friday I decided to head out on a kayaking weekend with my friend
Leslie. This was the first time in about 8 years that I went camping
again, and I had a ball sleeping under the stars. A fabulous weekend
in nature makes you think about life a little bit, so here are a
few snapshots of what’s been going through my head in the last few
days. In particular, I have been thinking about our lifestyles in
the city and some of the stark contrasts with the experiences of
City snapshot number 1:
Thursday night I linked up with a friend of mine who works for a
big international bank in finance. He was telling me how his employer
was sending around a survey to find out what tasks people were spending
time on at work, all for the purpose of efficiency and downsizing
the workforce. In his employee newsletter he read that his company
was proud that the annual turnover rate among employees is now below
30% (!), and this was a big story in the newsletter. We were wondering
why a turnover of almost 1/3 of the entire staff in a year would
be considered a good thing, considering the recruitment, training
and outplacement costs as well as the disruptions caused by a constantly
fluctuating workforce. But on a few days of the year his company
gives away free icecream cones to their employees....
City snapshot number 2:
Leslie and I left to go on our kayaking excursion at 3 pm Friday.
We left in mid-town, just north of the 401, Toronto’s major cross-town
highway. It took us about an hour and a half, to get to Toronto’s
eastern suburbs, from about Pickering onwards we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper
traffic until I had enough and headed northwards to a local road
where at least we were moving in between being stopped at red lights.
City snapshot number 3:
At the outdoor adventure camp I actually talked to another weekend
traveller who told me that he worked for many years for a major
international paper manufacturer until he got unceremoniously laid
off a few years ago. He had been living and working in Toronto’s
east end. After his lay-off he finally found a job in Toronto’s
west end and he ended up commuting probably about 2 hours in rush
hour traffic on a daily basis between his house in the east end
to his new workplace in Toronto’s west end. He figures there is
no point in moving since he doesnt’ know when he’s going to get
laid off again and where his next job might be.
City snapshot number 4:
This same person told me that one of the travellers in his group
was trying to use her cell phone in the middle of the wilderness
on Calumet Island in the Ottawa River. She even tried to get up
on a picnic table and lifted the cell phone up in the air to try
to get better reception. He found it rather ridiculous that someone
would need to make a cell phone call during an 2-day weekend outing
into nature. I guess we need to be wired all the time these days.
City snapshot number 5:
Life is speeding up all around us. To meet a friend for coffee you
now need at least 3 weeks notice and set up an appointment. People
work on the weekend, according to official statistics, many Canadians
don’t even manage to take advantage of their full 2 weeks of vacation
since they can’t get away from work. I was talking to a client recently
who works for a major international retailer. I asked her why she
doesn’t work from home since she receives all her documents electronically
from head office anyways. She said the head office people just don’t
trust people working from home, so she continues to spend 2.5 hours
a day in traffic (on a good day, way more during a snowstorm...)
Country snapshot number 1:
After getting out of rush hour traffic my friend and I thoroughly
enjoyed the drive into Eastern Ontario, particularly once we headed
north of Belleville into the rolling hills, past tiny country towns
and provincial parks. Saturday morning we were woken up by the mooing
sounds of cows who were announcing day break. The sounds of crickets
and cicadas filled the air in the campground.
Country snapshot number 2:
The facilities at the Equinox river rafting camp are extremely basic.
We realize that we can get by on 2 toilets in tiny plywood cubicles
and 4 co-ed shower stalls that are located in a wooden shed. We
sleep in a tent on a mat, I forgot my pillow and I borrow Leslie’s
mini-pillow. There is no Internet, no cell phones, no appointments,
no fancy clothes, no make-up.
Country snapshop number 3:
Evening in the campground. About 60 city folks are letting out their
inner child, they are partying, shouting, playing music, having
fun. That’s what it looks like when city people let loose. The next
night is a lot quieter, after a full day of paddling the rafters
and kayakers are tired and Saturday night was a much tamer affair.
Country snapshot number 4:
I am doing my interview with Krista, the spunky young intern at
Equinox’ river camp. I ask her if it would be possible to borrow
one of the bicycles that were leaning against the shed. "Sure",
she says, "just help yourself, my bike is the silver-coloured
one. Just grab it whenever you feel like it". You don’t see
this easy-going generosity in the city.
Country snapshot number 5:
During the interview, Krista tells me that a number of her rafting/kayaking
guide colleagues are living in tents, in a tree house or in a cobbled-together
shack during the summer. During the winter they go off to teach
English as a Second Language, study theatre, teach skiing or plant
trees and do horticulture in the spring. Krista mentions a key phrase
several times: "It’s amazing how little you need to live."
And this morcel of wisdom is coming from a 25-year old woman! The
guides are young adults that co-exist without a lot of structure,
very few rules, and they are just having fun doing sports they love
and interacting with the clients. And somehow they manage to feed
the clients and safely get them down the river. Everybody, the guides
and the clients, feels like a kid again.....
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
About the Author:
Susanne Pacher is the publisher of a website called Travel and
Transitions (http://www.travelandtransitions.com). Find unconventional
travel information, cross-cultural experiences, interviews with
travellers and other inspiring people. Submit your own travel stories
& win an exciting Amazon River cruise! "Life is a Journey
- Explore New Horizons”
Read more articles by: Susanne
Article Source: www.iSnare.com
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