One day while Don was doing his regular hour-long commute home from our woodworking shop to our home, he called me on his cell and said. “That’s it, we need to change our lifestyle or I’m jumping”.
Of course, I knew he was not serious, but I could also tell that his happiness depended on a change. For a decade he had been doing the 1 + hour commute each way to and from work, 6 to 7 days a week. We had 3 small kids all under 8 and they barely knew who he was. I jokingly said that except for Sundays Don had never seen our kids in anything but PJ’s as he left so early in the morning and got home so late in the evening that he never saw them dressed for the day.
It was no way to have a family life. Someone had to be brave enough to insist on a change.
So, on the recommendation from a craft show friend we came to visit Salt Spring Island. All we knew was that there was a Saturday market for crafters and that the house prices were far below those in Vancouver. We discovered there was a hospital and plenty of schools and that the couriers had finally come to the island, which made it possible for our business to work on the island. That was about all we knew. Neither of us had ever been to a Southern Gulf Island before.
It was January 1993, with snow on the ground. I remember I had a crazy migraine (most likely the stress of such an epic change brewing). We came for an overnighter, looked at a few houses, drove up the driveway for what became our home and thought ok. Let’s do it. Let’s move. It was a 100% gut decision with barely a lingering thought.
For me, it was definitely harder to leave the city. I was born and raised in Vancouver and had deep ties to family, friends and place. But for the sake of a better family life, we decided as the expression goes that we should leap and the net would appear. When we told our kids we were moving to Saltspring (used to be written as Saltspring, though now is officially Salt Spring - old habit), all of them asked what country that was in. For them it probably felt like another country, a world apart from all that was familiar.
The strangest thing about the move for me was that all of a sudden, the phone never rang. It was so strange to be in a place where we had no friends, no family, no one to call in an emergency. I missed my people terribly. For Don, well, he was thrilled. Now every morning instead of sitting in a traffic jam he listened to the morning CBC traffic report while he drank his coffee at home.
A new world opened up for us both, a new life. The happy ending is that before long we had built a woodworking shop in our backyard, hired new people to work with us, met many friends we now call family and created a peaceful, productive, happy life. Our kids became true islanders.
I look back occasionally and try to imagine how things would have been for us if we never jumped. If we kept things the same. I even wonder if our marriage would have survived. I wonder if we would have stayed in a craft world. Of course, those questions can never be answered. What I do know is that I am grateful that we had a momentary lapse of our need for security, that we trusted our inner knowledge, that part of us that we didn’t even understand.
The morale I would come out with or that I would say to others when they are stuck in a rut . . . there are times when reason may not always be the answer. Sometimes you need to just go with your gut. Leap and the net will appear.