Monday, June 25, 2012

One-way tickets

Or, alternate post title: "Holy $@%#, this is really happening!"

You know how I set an intention this year to be a more active participant in my own life? Well, I just did something to really act on that. I've had the seed of a dream for a while now, but it was too delicate of an idea to even talk about. So it remained a distant dream. A maybe. A someday.

After seeing a growing number of friends embark on their own long-term journeys to various places around the globe, we finally asked ourselves, why aren't we doing that? I mean, really. Why aren't we?

I realized then that I'd defaulted to this self-limiting mindset that things like this only happened to other people. It was something which I would only ever experience vicariously. But one day, we asked ourselves (almost in jest), do you think we could do that? Could we? There were so many "practical" excuses that could deflate such an idea. But my only regret now is that we didn't decide to do this sooner.

So the delicate seed of an idea was born and continued to grow. It sat, at the back of our minds (most of the time) while we squirreled away money into a new savings account. And waited. Not so patiently. But we waited.

Reading Vagabonding only reinforced everything we were trying to do. Many travel blogs too. And inspiring articles like this.

I need to see more of the world. I do. I need to see/understand/appreciate how the values I have and the systems I operate within are just one of many possible ways of living. I need to be thrust firmly out of my comfort zone. See how I fare without the safety net. Stray from the linear trajectory I've been on. Go sideways. 

So we're doing it. It's happening: we just bought one-way tickets to Bangkok. I. Cannot. Believe. I just typed that sentence. Holy #$%@! I've been wanting this to happen for so long!

From Bangkok, the plan—or "unplan" (more on that later)—is to begin a 6-month adventure around South East Asia, northern India, Nepal, Bhutan, and—time- and resource-pending—Japan.

Cried a little bit when I saw the confirmation screen from Expedia.

Only 150 days to go!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I am Spartan!

I had some idea of what I was getting myself into when I signed up for the Spartan Race. I knew it was a 5k race with obstacles, and I'd heard from people who'd done it in the past what some of them might be, but still, I went into it fairly blind. Then, a couple of days before the race, I got the waiver. It gave me some new ideas of what I was getting myself into:

"The risk of injury and/or death from the activities involved in the Spartan Race and its related events is significant including, but not limited to the following: (i) drowning; (ii) near-drowning; (iii) sprains; (iv) strains; (v) fractures; (vi) heat and cold injuries; (vii) over-use syndrome; (viii) injuries involving vehicles; (ix) animal bites and/or stings; (x) contact with poisonous plants; (xi) accidents involving, but not limited to paddling, climbing, biking, hiking, skiing, snow shoeing, travel by boat, truck, car, or other convenience; and (xii) the potential for permanent paralysis and/or death."

Oh crap.

Then I arrived at the race for my start-time (they had staggered start times all day long), and saw people coated in mud—some limping—and got a few more ideas of what I was in for.

And now, having done it, I can tell you how it went down. What I was in for was a 5km run through mud—├╝ber-thick, suctioning mud most of the time, slick mud the rest of the time—bogs, forests, fields, and rivers, all the while tackling random obstacles including, but not limited to: scaling an 8-foot wall, crawling through culverts, climbing up and over tall nets strung between trees, hauling heavy sandbags and cinderblocks, a 100-metre military crawl under barbed wire (through mud, of course), rope climb, javelin toss, and burpees for any unaccomplished task. And just before the finish line, you have to battle your way past two gladiators set to pummel you with those giant q-tips (which were a lot softer than they looked!). Also, there was a second military crawl under barbed wire, right near the finish line. This one was only about 10-metres, and as I was going through I felt a strange and painful spasm in my shoulder, which I found out later wasn't a spasm, it was a shock from the barbed wire, which was electrified!

Doing burpees, even though my javelin clearly hit the giant straw man!
And scaling the 8-foot wall, which I promptly fell off of...

Apparently, this is the face I make after receiving an electrical shock.

Hey, look at me! I'm more Spartan than I thought!

The shoes that previously had seen nary a puddle...

This is about the fifth sink wash...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Do what you can't do

Just looking at the sheer range of works that Picasso produced proves that this wasn't just something he said; it's something he lived. The AGO's exhibit of work from his personal collection truly shows that there's no medium he didn't try. Whether you're a fan of his work or not, his immense impact on the art and political scene of the time, and lasting impact into today's art and pop culture scene, cannot be denied. He was revolutionary! I was especially taken with his etchings and line drawings of performers backstage. Such energy, whimsy, and passionate sense of fun.

And he sure liked the ladies, didn't he? The infographic of the chronology of his life showed a lot of overlap between the women in his life—made me giggle. But each was a muse for him at different points in his life, and had a huge influence on his work.

It was fun to be back in Toronto, to see the AGO after the reno (so light and airy!) and to feel the energy of the city that I sometimes miss, but in hindsight feel I never appreciated enough while I lived there.

Lake Superior by Lawren Harris

Perhaps my favourite room in the AGO? Love the paintings exhibited floor-to-ceiling, French salon style.
Awesome mural by Nunca, southside of 52 McCaul Street