An en route meditation

Spring break has triggered an exodus from the Yukon.

Spring break has triggered an exodus from the Yukon. From students touring Canadian battlefields in Europe to a school bus driver holidaying in Mazatlan, Mexico and a school administrator and family enjoying the beach in Florida, we have spread our territory’s citizenry out across this hemisphere and even further.

Others, teachers and students alike, have chosen getaways like snowmobiling to a local cabin by a frozen lake with a backpack full of good books or just putting their feet up and relaxing. Of course some see the break as a chance to earn a little extra money by booking extra shifts at their regular part-time after-school jobs.

Any change can offer opportunities to recharge physical, psychic and spiritual batteries. Travel, though, provides some unique possibilities. Being put into novel situations, exposure to new places and peoples or just taking the time to explore an intriguing idea outside our normal schedules can push the restart button on our imaginations and freshen our perspectives on our lives and the world around us.

My spring break started with a surprise. Greyhound changed its bus schedule heading south last week. The Monday, Wednesday and Friday bus now leaves the depot on Second Avenue near Ogilvie at 6 p.m. instead of 2 p.m. Fortunately, this was not the other way around or my plans would have been really thrown for a loop.

Any bus trip offers opportunities for discoveries. The start of this one was no exception. A young fellow from France finishing a master’s degree in neuropsychology, who was taking a break to travel in Canada for a while, told me of one of his research projects back home. It offered a way for paraplegics to manipulate mechanical aids just through learning to focus their brain waves via a sophisticated sensory apparatus. Another fellow traveller boarded in Watson Lake heading back home to New Denver, British Columbia. He talked of greenhouse designs and the small one he hoped to build this spring. The promise of tomatoes and other vegetables it held drew him home.

Elk, buffalo and a lynx on the road kept Roger, our driver, focused, along with figuring out whether the driver of a tractor trailer stuck deep in the snow beside the road needed any assistance. Saturn a few degrees above the moon and the aurora borealis accompanied us down the Alaska Highway the first night out. The road can provide the distance from our normal daily routine that allows for a return to mindfulness and a restored appreciation of life.

Actually anyone can have an at-home vacation by following the same course. When did you last take the time to visit one of our art galleries? Have you recently found the time to listen to local musicians performing at the Rah Rah Gallery or in Lewis Hall of the United Church?

What Whitehorse culinary hotspot have you thought you might like to experience some time? Try going to a Yukon Science Institute lecture or Whitehorse Public Library reading. When was the last time you volunteered for one of our many civically minded organizations like the Whitehorse Foodbank?

Plan your own local at-home itinerary or take a road trip if you can, but no matter what you need to fan a new spark of enthusiasm for life into a flame. We will need all the energy and optimism we can muster in the next few years to face the challenges our overstressed world will be throwing at us. As John Keats, the 19th-century English poet, reminds us in this excerpt from his poem Fancy: “Ever let the fancy roam. Pleasure never is at home … Open wide the mind’s cage-door/She’ll dart forth and cloudward soar.”

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact pazypan@yukon.net.

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