Pickles, growth and friendship


Can you grow where you are? It’s a question about which I’ve been thinking a lot. Can growth happen if you stay where you are, or are changes in geography necessary? I imagine the answer is different for everyone depending on more variables than I can count. I guess, the first part is about wanting the growth, right?

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Unknown

Yoga in the Maldives - the gift of travel

A pose I didn’t think I could recapture since my gymnastics days (in the Maldives)

With time on the sand, on the hiking trail and across the over 5,000 miles we trekked from coast to coast, there has been a lot of time to chat, think and of course, wonder. I think wondering is on my list of favourite things to do. I often wonder what a typical Tuesday looks like in other people’s homes. I wonder about how much money we ‘really’ need to live. I wonder about those who change direction and location in various stages of life and how it affects their relationships with friends and family. I wonder if everyone wonders and if growth is as much a topic of conversation in others’ homes as it is in ours. Do you wonder?

“Change the way YOU see things, and the things YOU see will change.” – Wayne Dyer

I’m not sure I ever really took any stock in this ambiguous thing termed ‘growth’ when I was younger. At some point, when I started to travel to more non-traditional destinations and go for longer stretches of time, that’s when things started to shift. Words like perspective, ‘first world problems’, location-independence, and discussions over the true meaning of ‘need’ began to be bantered around more regularly. Some of it started on our first foray into long-term travel in a one-year journey around the world. More took place while living in Australia when I was forbidden (by visa restrictions) to work or volunteer. Still an even greater wondering continued upon our return from that same trip trying to fit into the boxes of old when I was a different person. Then, it exploded.

How to can pickles-Erin- the gift of travel

Photo credit: Erin O’Callaghan

Sure, I know that I could have resigned from teaching, stayed in New York and shifted roles. A year of volunteering, event work and entering the writing fold did wonders, but we were still in the same place geographically. For some reason, at the time, I felt stunted by that fact. Same roads, same buildings, same supermarkets, same back and forth-don’t get me wrong, some of the same was fabulous (family, friends, time on the sand), but others, suffocating. Perhaps a bit of the growth factor is affected by location and geography, but, it seems, much more is based on point of view, attitude, perspective and choice. Perhaps it shifts back to that comfort zone again – encompassing elements of fear while pushing those boundaries just shy of bursting, yielding confidence and motivation while instilling a desire to continue momentum.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

I often wonder if these conversations take place in the households of my friends. Is growth a topic of conversation at their dinner tables, on their car rides or while sitting at the beach, park, backyard, playground or anywhere? What does it say if we talk about it a lot? What does it say if it’s not talked about at all? I don’t have these answers, but I know that if it’s important and if you believe it matters, somehow, the universe will give you answers to your questions in some very special ways (I often find mine in the whitecaps of waves). I wasn’t sure about the answer when I started writing and then, just like that, a conversation with a wise friend occurred and location had nothing at all to do with it!

Phase II-canning pickles - the gift of travel

Photo Credit: Erin O’Callaghan

In the midst of writing this article, I had a chat with my friend, Erin. The short version-she’s summer camp personified and one of the best people I know. Recently converting her home to natural gas and solar power, she annually grows an incredible garden whose bounty is often plentiful (including the cucumbers on tap for their own adventure). A few weeks ago she sent us a care package from the land out east including cookies/biccies from Briermere Farms (where we used to frequent each summer at camp) and her own homemade jams (3 different kinds). As we were talking, she was setting out to can pickles. Seriously! I do have to say, this is something I’d never done but couldn’t wait to learn and share in her excitement. She showed me heaps of various sized canning jars, a few fun tools she uses for the process and all the ingredients needed for the canning of said pickles. Through the magic of Face Time, this black-thumbed allergic asthmatic learned how to can pickles Erin-style! There we were sitting on different coasts, sharing stories (as we have done for over thirty years) and location, as usual, didn’t matter. As always, she managed to share a lesson without announcing it! Perhaps next time we’ll have our own bicoastal pickling party (even if I have to get the cucumbers from the supermarket and she picks them from her own garden)!

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust

Growth is individual. Growth is part of a journey and strikes us each at different times. Sometimes it’s talked about a lot while at other times it sits idly by until we’re ready for it. It doesn’t need to be announced. There are those of us who will only be hit by it in times we least expect it or in the form of the needs of others. No matter what, the answer will be different for each of us. For me, I got my answer. A new adventure can take place wherever you are as long as we’re interested in seeking with different eyes. Find a passion, learn something new, push the boundaries, challenge yourself, change your perspective and you’ll find that elusive evolution. Seeds, when watered, are progress personified. Who knows of what we’re capable when we even try to reach our full potential. You can grow where you are-you just have to be willing to till the soil and do the work.

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” -Unknown

So there it was – a message of growth canned in a chat with a life-long friend shared through a lesson in a pickle jar.

Final step-canning pickles - the gift of travel

Photo Credit: Erin O’Callaghan

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