My favourite Canada Day memory is when we were hiking the West Coast Trail. We were walking along a sandy beach, belting out the anthem with no one else in sight, just sand, sun, and surf. There is something cathartic about enjoying a day like that in the wilderness, a wilderness that in some ways defines Canada.
Canada has a lot of wilderness, and I have been lucky to see a fraction of it on foot. Hiking through the Rocky Mountains, over the old gold rush trail, and along the ocean. Or on a sled in the middle of winter on the peak of a mountain. The environment is always unique, the scenery breathtaking.
But, sometimes, things happen that alter our realities, and we are left with a choice: stubbornly ignore it or change with it. For a long time, I fought the idea of changing, hiking and backpacking had become a part of who I was, who I am, and the idea of leaving that behind, at least for a while, was something I couldn’t accept. This, unfortunately, led me to go on a trip that I was not prepared for, my recently operated on ankle was nearly untested—not to the degree it needed to be, the degree I knew it should have been. It went untested because part of me knew that it probably was not going to be okay, but I thought that if I got out there then I would have to power through. This was not the case. I got out there, but could not go on. It spoiled the trip for everyone.
This, however, was not the moment that pushed me to decide to change. It did push me to go back and seek more help. But, after three surgeries on my ankle I am left with the reality that it will probably never be 100%, probably not even 80%, in fact, right now I am hoping to get it at least to 75% (it currently has plateaued at 65%).
I was left feeling a bit lost and maybe a bit resigned. I couldn’t do a lot of what I loved to do but was I ready to give up on it? I’ll never really give up on getting back to where I was, but I did discover that I can’t just wait for that to happen. I had to find a new way to enjoy the beauty that the Canadian wilderness has to offer. I had to let go—for now.
I had a conversation with my husband the other day about letting go of things that we always wanted. And what he said helped me to see that letting go isn’t giving up. Just because we’ve always wanted something, doesn’t mean we have to want it forever, or keep it forever. People change, adapt, and it is time that I learned to adapt as well, to find a new way and enjoy the things I can now, the way I can, and one day maybe I will be able to circle back. One day, maybe my ankle will get to 75% and I will know that pushing it won’t cause damage and I will be able to walk up the mountains again. But until then, I’m not waiting.
Sometimes strength isn’t pushing through or stubbornly sticking to something, sometimes strength is putting mental health first, acknowledging limitations, and adapting.