The Intersection of Serendipity and Lonely Planet

I’m a pretty firm believer in the happenstance of great experiences. The vacation by which all vacations are measured was the time that Child, my sister, my mom and I went to Disney. Child was 9, so young enough to still do evening adventure camps whilst the rest of us had fancypants dinner at the hoitytoity Grand Floridian hotel. Young enough to do Pirate Adventures while the rest of us went to the spa, But old enough to stay up late and watch the flotilla parade float by right as we were walking the perimeter of the Seven Seas Lagoon.  Or go on clandestine Chocolate Cake missions with Auntie Rosie. The vacation was the perfect balance of planned good times, and serendipity. Grandma got chosen as an audience participant at the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor show. We played Disney trivia with cast members (Name all the movie titles that are just one word!) while we waited our turn to take pictures with Hook and Smee. And we got exactly the right ferry to be stopped in the middle of the lake when Mickey’s Christmas Party fireworks started. Ah, the halcyon days of that vacation. SO GOOD.

But I also feel like if you leave too much up to chance, opportunities pass you by while you’re perfecting your Hermit skills. Inertia is brutal, but it’s easy to slip into it without even realizing that it’s happening. ‘Taking it easy’ turns into wasted opportunities, and just… nothing. So to make sure that I don’t just find excuses to hide away, I’m creating Make The Most of The Dash (MTMoTD) goals.

In addition to my 10 Beach Project, I’m doing a Waterfall Project, and a Trail Project. I’m doing these on purpose.

I grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, the city of Waterfalls. I mean, I knew some of them that we passed often enough to register – Albion Falls, Devil’s Punchbowl, Spencer Falls – But I didn’t know the extent of them until the marketing people at Tourism Hamilton got a hold of it. Turns out, there are over 100 waterfalls in the greater Hamilton area. I’m going to visit at least half of them, and I’m specifically choosing this goal because I failed at appreciating my surroundings when we lived in McDonald’s Corners. There were some places that I really liked – Code’s Mill and Stewart Park in Perth, the Balderson Cheese Factory. But there were others that I paid no mind to.  It took me 9 years to go to the teenytiny beach on Dalhousie Lake – and I only visited once. I regret that in the 11 years that we were there, I never once visited the Purdon Conservation Area to see the world’s largest  colony of Lady Slipper orchids. I kicked the can down the road – I’d go the next year. Oh, we had [insert excuse here] to do, so I missed them, I’d do it the next year. And I never did.

I started enjoying the trails in Cambridge very soon after I moved because of my Lady Slipper Orchid Guilt. I know Riverside Park and the Linear Trail pretty well, but that’s all. I want be able to say that I have a favourite – not because it’s the one I like better than the only other one I’ve walked, but because I’ve visited enough to have an opinion.

I know that the whole thing with goals is they’re measurable and all that, and part of me wants to timebox these goals. Part of me wants to also be able to enjoy them and not just do them because I’ve got some arbitrary date on them. So if that means it takes me 2 years to do the waterfalls, then maybe that’s OK. Maybe the goal is more like go find an adventure more often. And the beach project and the waterfall project and the trail project are just means to that end.

Make the most of the Dash. And stop to smell the… uh… orchids.

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