A few thoughts on Halifax
The air is freezing. It’s colder here in Halifax than anything I have experienced in the last 18 months, and the first flurries of snow have just fallen. The last time I saw snow, I was camping at over 1000m in the Rogers Pass, British Colombia. That was on a mild May evening. Only the peaks were coated and the adrenaline of having just seen three grizzly bears probably also helped keep me warm.
The nights are also drawing in. It’s dark by five o’clock. A far cry from the last light leaving the sky at nearly midnight at the extreme southern point of New Zealand.
I’ve now been settled into my new life in Halifax, Nova Scotia for more than three months. The change in lifestyle has been dramatic. No more worrying about where I’m going to sleep or if I have enough fuel to cook dinner. At one point I showered more times in a day than I did in nearly two weeks on my trip.
Going back to university has been a huge challenge. In a lot of ways, the life I lived for the year before this was easy. I had to worry about very little. Most of my time was just spent cruising along on a bike. It was wonderful to live in the moment like that. I now find myself with deadlines most days, grades to worry about and teachers to keep happy. For the most part it has been a test that I have relished and I have been taken out of my comfort zone in very different ways. I love talking to people but it can also be very nerve-wracking, especially for the first few minutes. As I settle into an interview, I like to think my passion begins to show through. It is fantastic to talk to inspiring people on subjects that I want to write about. It has left me in no doubt that this is a profession that I would like to make a life from. It is not going to be easy. That much is clear. But there are enough incredible stories in the fields that I love to keep me going for a lifetime.
Halifax is an awesome place. It really does have a lot going for it. The heart of the city is quite small with a busy, compact downtown, but the bars and restaurants are always lively. The craft beer and live music scene is very enjoyable. I’ve made a good group of friends and we certainly make the most of this. I’m happy in my apartment and overall life is pretty comfortable.
Unfortunately, right now, I’m not sure comfortable is what I really want from life. There is just not enough danger. I want to be back in the wild.
It seems churlish to complain. I’m extremely lucky with where I am and the life I’m able to lead, but I’m missing the freedom. Each day I have places that I have to be at a certain time. I have bills to worry about and chores to do.
When I finished my trip in August, I was very ready for a break. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I really did need some time when I didn’t have to worry about finding somewhere to sleep and I could just go to the fridge for food. But I’m past that now. My trip changed me. I’m never unhappy but I rarely feel truly alive right now. Boredom resurfaces whenever I’m not busy. I miss the lakes and mountains more than I can describe. I long for the feeling of exhilaration I would get, camping in an incredible location at the end of an exhausting day.
I try my best to find this in Halifax. I have joined the local triathlon club and I am loving training in a structured way with the aim of tackling some big races next year. But very much like it did in London, real life too often gets in the way. I’ll be busy with school work or have things I need to do and training will get squeezed out. I need to find a much better balance.
Overall, I think I’m in a building phase of my life. I am very proud of some of the work I have produced so far and I will add to that in the New Year. I feel that I am becoming a better storyteller which is crucial for what I want to do with my future. I need to carry on working hard to get the most out of being in Halifax. I’m getting good experience as a journalist and really must make the most of the triathlon club.
For now, the future is fairly open-ended. I hope to set myself some big challenges next year and get my first articles professionally published. I want to find a way to spend plenty of time with my girlfriend Camille in San Francisco. And I want to return to the wild, hopefully with her. I’m desperate for that buzz of adrenaline once again. As John Muir famously put it, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” I just have to put in the work to get there.