It means whatever you want it to be, for each of us is different and without a sense of Purpose life is a just a trip to nowhere in particular. Covid-19 has presented us with many challenges and for some of us, it has lead us to a river crossing that we must get beyond but the path is unclear fore the river is in flood and the crossing is daunting. Many times in my life of adventure into the wilds of the great Canadian North I have encountered swollen rivers and creeks that I must get across to get to my destination. One such occasion was on Baffin Island traversing from Davis Strait to Frobisher Bay with only a map and a compass to guide us-two of us-on our way. My mate on this trip had not ever done anything like what we were attempting but the one thing I knew about this individual was that he was mentally tough and determined to complete anything he had begun. The trip started when we landed on Baffin from Qikiqtarjuaq-what a ride across the North Atlantic-and while I was setting up camp he was preparing dinner. It was then we discovered our stove was missing a critical element and was inoperative. Here we were with all this fuel, dehydrated food, and no stove to cook it with. After the initial shock of our predicament, we quickly left the “blame game” behind and settled down to discuss how in the “Good Lord’s Name” were we to move forward stuck out the middle of nowhere with no communication with the outside world, no one in all likely head coming our way-we were travelling late in August with the early signs of late Fall on the horizon-with two plus weeks of arduous cross country travel on foot in front of us. I said I’d explore the terrain near camp looking for a source of fuel and that day the “God’s were smiling on us.” I found an old abandoned weather beaten wooden qamutiik and I set to work with my knife; yes my knife, claiming what I could for our fuel for dinner. It worked! After dinner we went to work cutting and breaking the qamutiik up as best we could and then bundled it up with twine to be carried on the top of my pack. The last thing I needed was more weight to carry but there was no choice-I was the younger of the two by a few years and much fitter. Honestly, I had never rationed or paid such attention to my fuel ever again like that trip. Along the way we found in creek valleys spots where stunt willow trees grew-not much higher than our waist-that we bundled up, and collected old dried twigs and they keep us in fuel for the rest of our trek. Our Purpose remained the same, “to have an extraordinary adventure in a remote part of our planet” with a slight twist-to survive.
Purpose you say, “What about it?” I can tell you we all need Purpose in our lives and when Covid-19 struck us like lightning out of the bottle I knew I had to do whatever it took to keep my mind, body, and spirit healthy. Every morning I woke up at the same time-06:00-and made a good breakfast, read some books I’d longed to read, and settled into a routine first thing at daylight that allowed me to enjoy the moment at the beginning of every day. I had learned the importance of routines and habits in our lives. They allow the brain to relax and we all know how taxed our minds have been during this pandemic. Negative stress is a killer and I was determined I was not going to let this virus get the better of me like it had some folks out there.
So what about that river crossing and how does it fit into this story? We got up before the first rays of the sun filtered through our tent walls as usual to prepare for the day ahead and get a head start on the day’s proceedings knowing we had a major creek crossing that day on our topographic map. We reached the creek-approximately 10 meters across-after three hours backpacking and what we saw stopped our hearts. It was a raging torrent of white spray and swift water racing to join the North Atlantic Ocean. We spent hours trekking up and down the shoreline looking for a safe place to cross to no avail. Rather than stay where we were we trekked back to our last campsite-yes, it made sense even though that meant we’d covered that same ground three times. Praying that the night would be cold and hence the creek would be lower that next morning we were up and on our way without breakfast in the dark to reach the creek. We crossed it with water up to our waists, changed from our high top runners-they won’t be ripped off your feet in fast currents on slippery rocky bed surfaces-into our hiking boots and we were on our way again.
Life will in all likelihood send you curve balls-change and death are the two guarantees in life-and life is not a destination but a journey as wise old sages have said throughout the ages. And that journey that you’re on needs to have Purpose, especially during times of strife. So this blog is just another simple example of Purpose during a time of incredible personal disruption, dreams stolen for the moment, and loss in one form or another. Little projects like this photo shoot for this blog give me Meaning and Purpose in my life. LIfe’s as simple as that or as complex as you make it for yourself. Stay safe everyone and keep on living the good life, it’s the only one I know of.