Nothing ever stays the same, and that’s just fine with me

Vacations are times of relaxation, refreshment and enjoyment. Having no ‘set’ schedule is a novelty we look forward to when we’re lucky enough to have a break, and that’s what I had a couple of weeks back during a trek to Vancouver and Victoria.

Each day on the coast was hot, sunny with clear blue skies – it was almost unbelievable how perfect the weather was.

For me, visiting Vancouver is a trip down memory lane. I lived in Burnaby, about five blocks from the City of Vancouver boundary, for a year back in the early 1990s. (Yes, I’m that old). I had decided to attend a Bible College for a year to see if I was pastor material. (I decided I wasn’t).

Still, it was a tremendous year of personal and spiritual growth. It was also something of a dream as I had always wanted to live in Vancouver.

But it wasn’t necessarily an easy year. It was the first time I was away from home. I was ridiculously insecure and unsure of myself. I also wasn’t prepared for a west coast winter (rain, rain and more rain). I couldn’t believe how much moisture there was and it seemed endless. I remember weeks without so much of a hint of sunlight.

Nonetheless, the greenery and beauty of Vancouver – rain or shine — was a magical sight to this prairie-raised guy.

I have returned to Vancouver over the years, and always had a fondness for it. It’s great to reconnect with friends from that time, and I enjoy visiting familiar places.

On this recent trip, I noticed a strong sense of nostalgia. One day I ventured out for a walk around my old neighbourhood and was struck by how much it had changed. How disappointing! The house I lived in has been torn down and replaced by a mansion. It felt strange to look at the yard and see this on the site of the modest bungalow I called home for a year.

Time marches on I suppose. But other changes popped up all around me. Other houses I remembered were gone and in their places there were either bare parcels of property or new condos.

I walked down Kingsway, a thoroughfare connecting Vancouver with Burnaby and beyond and I found myself looking for traces of the familiar. Many buildings remain the same, but most of the businesses from that time were gone. Yikes! Where was ‘my’ Burnaby? But even more troubling, why was I looking so hard for traces of the past? It was like I was trying to reconnect with the past in a way I hadn’t before.

Could be my age, I surmised. I’m 42 now – twice as old as I was then when time seemed to go slowly and life seemed like a great big adventure just waiting to be dived into.

Mid-life crisis? I guess it could be. But the lesson I learned is that there is a fine line between having a pleasant collection of memories and dwelling a bit too much on portions of our past.

Sometimes you have to make peace with your past, and by that I mean you have to simply be thankful for it and let it go. Yes, the world looks a whole lot different, and a whole lot more complicated at 42 then it did at 21 – in Burnaby and in general.

I looked around and smiled inwardly with a newfound sense of peace. The key lies in being grateful for the chapters in our lives. They are complete. They are over. But they are blessings in that they are part of who we are today.

When the trip ended, I regained a healthy sense of appreciating the past while looking firmly ahead. Ultimately, in a world where things change so rapidly, there’s no other option. And that’s something to be thankful for.