Two different trips. Two very specific reasons for travel.

Here, in Oregon, I’ve spent my days sifting through some fifty years of my uncle’s writing, reading his travel journals, his letters to his mother, his poems and the work he’s already done on his book about the Manitoulin. In between slow, cane-assisted walks to and from the dinner table and his chair-bound naps, we’ve talked about writing, his life, his memories, how to finish his book and also compile a collection of his poetry, all with pretty regular sparks of his famous wit. Yesterday, he gave me a book by Mary Oliver, my favourite poet, that she’d signed.

Being here with him makes me think of the courage that it takes to stare that final journey in the face. As we’ve been sorting through the pages, I’ve been watching Uncle Clive look back on his life, his accomplishments, his time of being on this earth.

Tonight I leave for my next trip, flying first to Toronto and then to Santiago, Chile, before my friends and I hire a car (complete with tire chains) to drive into the mountains. Just over the border, at Punta de Vacas, Argentina, I will join good friends from Hungary and several thousand other people who are following the Siloist path. Together, we’ll spend three days clarifying the direction of our futures and the meaning in our lives, a process that always involves others and what is also best for them. I’ll also be taking lots of notes about both the mind-blowing scenery and the spiritual expansion for an assigned story for the Georgia Straight.

This trip comes at a good time. While in Oregon, a realization has deepened in me. And it’s simple, really. This is all we have: this time, this place, this intention.