Fort McMurray

Life at the Crossroads

Eleven years ago today.

That’s how long I’ve lived in Fort McMurray, Alberta. That’s how much time has passed since I made the choice to live here.

Not bad considering I thought I would only be here for eight months. Just a quick stint to make some money. I’d be headed back to Ontario in no time. Or so I thought. Clearly, the eight-month plan didn’t work. But that seems to be a common thing.

I will admit, I never would have guessed I’d still be here after all these years. This is the longest period of time that I’ve lived in one place consecutively. I guess that makes me Albertan more than anything else. If you had asked me about that 11 years ago, I would have answered differently.

The first year or so was tricky. Landing here in mid-October 2011, I found myself dealing with weather and temperatures I wasn’t used to. The lack of sunlight, at first a novelty, started to wear on me mentally. And coming from a densely populated urban area to remote and isolated regions of northern Alberta is enough to make anybody feel lonely.

A lot has happened to me since then. I’ve made friends, been married, worked on my career, found success on stage, and worked on my writing. I’ve also walked away from jobs, believing I was a failure. I’ve gotten divorced; I watched as my marriage shattered into pieces. There have been moments when my life felt as though it were slowly being torn apart. I hit rock bottom with nothing more than $20 in my bank account (overdraft dollars, not real dollars). I felt alone. To say I’ve experienced a rough time would be an understatement. And it would have been easy to just give up.

But looking back, it’s hard to hate any of it. That sounds strange, doesn’t it?

I’m sitting here today with a loving wife and a soon-to-be son who’s only a few weeks away. I have a roof over my head and two dogs who, despite their best efforts sometimes, are a joy to have in my life. I’ve travelled the world with more yet to see. I have a job I love and have friends who care. This community is amazing!

I have a life.

Every time we come to a crossroads, the path may not be clear. We might not be able to see what’s waiting for us. Do we turn left, right, or go straight? There are no real answers. Just do the best that we can with the information we have at the time. Each choice, a puzzle piece that fits into the greater whole of our experience. Not everything will work out as planned. We all make decisions along the way that will leave us in doubt. But a decision made is still ours to own at the end of the day.

My life is the sum of all the decisions I have made in the past. All the things I’ve seen and done. Good. Bad. All of them. For better or worse. I have experienced success, failure, sadness, joy, and pain. And there’s guaranteed to be more of all of that in the future. But despite everything, every moment was worth it. Because they made me who I am. They brought me to where I am today. To this very point, right here, right now.

This is where I am supposed to have ended up.

And the truth is, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Image Credit: naanaanabooboo

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