… Which makes me consider the crucial value of “Radical Moves”.
Some were split-second decisions, others were rehearsed mentally for hours or even days. All of them, however, have led me where I am today, through a maze of coincidences and fateful turns. It was all scarily accurate.
It was, for instance, opting for the fancy Canadian life and a shot at the New World’s infinite opportunities instead of a gloomy future in a French lycée because my grades in math’s were so bad.
It was deciding not to traverse from the last safe resting spot into and across the “Dalle Verte“, smoothest area of the Mont St-Hilaire cliff, before it was officially closed to rock climbers. Climbing solo and with limited self-belaying knowledge, I would not have made it across the holdless wet upper part, and that would have been it.
It was applying to both civilian and military flight schools and choosing the civilian option, their answer having arrived a few days before the other. And ending up earning a commercial pilot licence I would never use, but “forever walking the Earth with my eyes turned skyward, for there I had been and there I would long to return…”
It was playing with a Commodore Vic-20 computer out of curiosity in 1982 and having computers present in my life ever since.
It was deciding to buy a motorcycle with the money that was meant to pay for my flight instructor rating. All of my life, something has been furiously pushing me towards aviation and then at the last minute pulling me away. When Air Canada declared that for the first time in years they couldn’t give me the First Officer seat that came with winning the award and gave we a free ticket instead (!) it had to be bloody fate.
It was convincing my sister to add a weekend cruise to Freeport, Bahamas to our Fort Lauderdale dolphin-oriented vacation. That was a fluke, of course. And a good deal – $99 for a round trip passage, on board meals and a night in Port Lucaya. The rest is history. We did the Dolphin Experience dive. We loved it. She applied for an instructor position, got it, and sent us swirling into the Caribbean for years. Because of course I had to follow her lead.
It was getting into a violent argument about safety with the Chief Engineer on board Club Med 2 in Guam, quitting my job the same night and leaving Asia the following morning. I had just closed a door an opened another that would get me to sail across the Atlantic.
It was, in the Bahamas once more, irrupting into a moron’s room in the middle of the right and punching him like a sand bag. And doing it again the next day in public at the bar. That one marked the end of my career in Club Med and my departure from the Bahamas. Yet I had just met the people with whom I was going to work for most of the following eight years and who would become like family.
It was, one afternoon, doing a last deep dive on air below 250 ft and calling it a day, or rather a life. Not worth the thrill.
It was sitting on a wooden bench of the local clinic’s dirt floor waiting room, far away from Lima in the devastated and remote northern town of Rioja, tucked away between the Amazon and the Andes, wiping sweat off my forehead and thinking: “The heck with all this!”
It was catching a plane to France from the Caribbean and arriving in Paris with a simple CD and spending 2 days having manuscripts printed, and mailing them unsuccessfully to publishers.
It was hopping on the internet one day and booking a paragliding class in Chamonix, from half way around the globe, and getting hooked forever.
It was giving up the Colonel’s Quarters and a single’s life to move into the fantastic oceanfront Lighthouse No. 1 condo and its eternal sunsets.
It was deciding to cancel a paragliding vacation while in the Alps and flying back to San Francisco to await news of the Cayman Islands’ devastation; and then flying back home to find it intact – against all odds – but the main island in ruins. And taking sharp turns and making harsh decisions.
It was getting frustrated by the lack of a couple’s progress, wanting to help and speed things up, jumping on a friend’s offer and moving to Vancouver on the throw of a dice. And here I am.
Looking back, these moves shine through time like the beams of as many lighthouses. They were markers, crossroads and turning points. They were architects of life and destiny, pillars of a grander structure, keystones of my own story’s arches. These moments are the main bones of an existential skeleton, allowing me to grow and stand upright.
And yet when they happened, I never really knew what they were. So caught up in the unfolding tragicomedy I called my life, I could not distance myself from it enough to see the bigger picture. At most times, I was reacting to events, not acting upon them. They took the best of me and I did my best to choose the best of available reactions. It was all about doing my best. It always is.
Except that nowadays it seems as if I’m no longer confined to a reacting stance. More and more, I catch glimpses of the larger picture while it unfolds and am given the opportunity to act and to choose my fate as I see fit. I’m practicing hard towards destiny and fate as a tree. It’s fun. It’s infinitely complex. It’s endlessly morphing and ever-changing. It’s life.