I just spent the last five days in Ontario’s capital city (partially for work, partially on holiday) and I am still exhausted. But like – a good exhausted. Like I rode a cyclone and came out okay on the other side. My legs are a little wobbly but I’m quite content with the experience.
Remember how I mentioned before that in the last little while, I’ve been learning a lot? The learning didn’t take a break while I was in Toronto. I’d be delighted to share with you some things I learned (or re-learned .. remembered?) while I was there. Be warned – some may seem ambiguous – but they are concrete lessons and observations. Sometimes you need to be taken away from your home to absorb things differently.
1. Toronto is beautiful.
Love. That. City. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Toronto has a death grip on my heart. The towering landscape, the hurried pedestrians, the bold ambiance, the assortment of districts and the spectacular fusion of citizens in any given spot – there’s nothing like it. Vancouver and Montreal are stunning – but nothing elevates my spirit like Toronto. It certainly helps that I have some amazing friends who take me in when I’m there and make me feel oh-so-comfortable.
Not to mention I am a self-proclaimed food fanatic and the quantity of restaurants is AMAZING. It also seems as if there are 127 first-rate concerts happening in one given night – and I may be low balling with that number ..
There’s something about that town.
2. (Most) Everyone is here to help each other out in this crazy messed up universe.
I spent my days off in Toronto meeting with various people in the music industry to ask them questions, hear their stories, learn about their exact field, and assess the risks of working in such an enormous metropolis – something that I one day aspire to do. Admittedly, I was a little scared that once I met each one of these people at their offices, at the restaurant, at the café – that I would freeze. That I would look silly in my inquisitiveness. This wasn’t the case at all – each person I met with was gracious and treated the encounter with a feel of importance. I did it. So if you really want it – you can too. Here’s who else you should talk to. Here’s what else you should learn. Here’s what I did. This is what I recommend. This. Is. The. Industry.
Everyone with a good heart in this world wants everyone else to succeed. If you have the ability or capacity to help, help. It can be big, little, whatever. Because no matter the place, no matter the size of the city, everyone is just trying to remain afloat – and if you can be someone’s life boat, DO IT. Because someday they, or someone else, will be yours. I promise.
3. Then there are people who simply are what they are – and you can’t change that.
You can work against your entire belief system in trying to ensure that someone won’t let you down, but unfortunately in some circumstances – they always will. You can try to defend someone to the core but sometimes they aren’t worth defending because something in them doesn’t want to change. Something in them wants to hurt you – or is simply just careless with your feelings. Sometimes you just have to listen to that gnawing voice inside your head telling you to just .. let it be.
Sometimes what a person appears to be is exactly what they are, even if they dress themselves up in different clothes and slap on a grin. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck – it’s just a duck in a nice outfit. And unless that duck can right all the wrongs they have done unto you – they are still a duck. Capisce?
4. Creativity is heightened outside of your comfort zone.
Just when you think you’ve hit the ultimate writer’s block, just when you think you’ve painted your last stroke or strummed that last chord and you simply can’t squeeze out another ounce of inspiration .. shift. Shift your mood. Shift your setting. Shift from that groove on your couch that you gravitate toward. Shift from your favourite food or your favourite colour. Creativity flows out of those little pinholes you accidentally poke in the cosmos when you just step outside of what is familiar.
5. Don’t be scared to be alone.
I mentioned this in a previous post – but being alone is different than being lonely – and as I get more comfortable with this concept, the more I can apply it to different situations, and the more it is becoming cathartic. I went to my very first movie alone, in Toronto, at the Toronto International Film Festival. I stood in line, alone, watched the lights dim, alone, and felt the range of emotions that the film provoked, alone. I listened to the faultless music, alone. I watched the Q&A that followed, alone.
I was in a beautiful timeworn theatre with thousands of people. I never once felt lonely. That won’t be my last solitary theatre experience.
Kerouac said it best, “You’d be surprised how little I knew even up to yesterday.”
I wonder .. if these are the things I learn from a 5 day jaunt to a neighbouring province, what are the things I will learn if and when I travel to a different continent?
I don’t know, but I’m beyond excited to find out. 🙂