Sunday 30 November 2014

The Kindness of Strangers

Make new friends, but keep the old,
One is silver and the other gold.
~the song we used to sing in Brownies.  It still makes sense.
I made a new friend today.
He gave me his car. 
First the backstory:
Four of us came together for a girls' weekend and informal ODPU reunion.
(here I need to interject that 'Odd Poo' stands for the former University of Calgary Outdoor Pursuits program and is the all-time worst acronym I've ever heard.  I refuse to use it except in very specific tongue-in-cheek situations.  It more aptly describes the way I feel after eating too much dairy, but that's another story.)
We were converging from east and west and planned to meet mid-way in Lake Louise.  A winter storm warning and terrible road conditions stopped us in Canmore.
In white-out conditions reminiscent of the Wapta ski traverse, we landed safely at the adorable, homey and kind Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge.
It featured cozy rooms, a fireplace and the all-essential hot tub.  Perfect.
Things really took off the following day as our fourth member met up with us after the storm.  We skied, settled in, giggled and caught up, perusing old school photos and sharing delicious preserves from the Okanagan (thank you for bottling up that sunshine Christin!)
We'd all been reading Ken Wylie's new book Buried.  As former students of Ken's, we discussed his courageous book at great length throughout the weekend.
He taught us much as an instructor in ODPU.  And I'm grateful that he's still teaching me with the brave words in his book.  I'm left considering the importance of heeding your intuition, speaking up when you know it to be right, regardless of the social implications, and that experience without reflection is for naught.
We stayed up late talking about these concepts, the world and our lives.
What a gift to gather with soul friends like these!

And this morning we woke up to -30.  It felt like -40.
LaHonda wouldn't start.  We tried everything.  We jumped the car, we harnessed the energy of a Nordic ski team to try for a push start.  We plugged it in.  We crossed our fingers.
Nothing worked.
Holly had a flight to catch back to Saskatoon.  The clock was ticking.  So our new best friend Pat, whose family runs the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge GAVE US HIS CAR.
Mom, I swear I did not steal this car.  It was given to me.
It's an upgrade to say the least. 
For one thing, it starts.  And beyond that, it has SEAT HEATERS! 
We drove back to Calgary in luxury, filled with gratitude.
And remembering Ken Wylie's wise words about the importance of reflecting on experience, let me share a few lessons learned....
1.  If anyone travels with me, they must prepare themselves for a change in plans.  Because as hard as I try, it seems that something always goes a little teensy bit (or a whole heck of a lot) awry.  As we learned in ODPU, this is called a 'misadventure'.  Though I've been known to curse my misadventures as they are unfolding, without them:
  A) I'd have no new material for my blog (wouldn't that be a shame dear readers?) and,
  B) There'd be so much less excitement in my life  (which leads me to point #2)
2.  It is exactly these unplanned mishaps that bring great excitement and open me to new lessons and experiences.  I spent this morning upset and stressed and left this afternoon with a brand new friend and a great new car (I promise that I'll bring it back tomorrow Pat!)  It's when I've travelled with the least money that I've connected most deeply with new friends around the world.  I've stayed in their homes, eaten with their families, shared guinea pigs on my birthday.  When I have more resources and everything goes according to plan (don't worry, it's rare), I am somehow insulated against the exquisite and unplan-able (is that a word??) memorable moments that come from not knowing where I am, where I'll sleep that night, or whether my car will start...
And, ummmm.... lesson 3:  In Canada's chilly climes, it helps to plug your car in overnight....

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