My husband and I just returned from a trip of a lifetime to the spectacular Canadian Province of Newfoundland & Labrador. Similar to our trip to Croatia last year, when we would tell people our travel plans, we would invariably be met with quizzical expressions and the question, “Why did you choose to go there?”
And I must say, even Newfoundlanders wondered why we would choose to spend our vacation days on an island so far in the North Atlantic that we found it difficult to find stars (because the sky was only completely dark between midnight and 3:00 AM).
Newfoundland has become close to our hearts through the music of Great Big Sea. And through that same music and a certain little dancing video, the locals seem to have embraced me as the unofficial ambassador of happiness and cheer in the face of chaos, sadness and despair. I have received tons of messages and emails and notes from Canadians (many from NFLD) who were following my story from afar. I have made friends with some good people there. Seemed like a perfect opportunity to visit such good people in person.
Rick and I also love exploring places neither of us has been before. And if we are the only Americans for miles? Even better. We love to mix with the locals. Be charmed by the brogue of their accents. Ask about favorite restaurants and attractions. Learn the local history.
We stayed in a charming fishing community called Petty Harbour (just South of St. John’s). We read, we relaxed, we hiked, we zip-lined, we iceberg-hunted, we bird watched (saw my first Puffin and 5000 of his closest friends), we whale watched (from the SHORE no less), we were “screeched in” (a ceremony involving black rum and kissing a codfish). . .
Newfoundlanders call people from out of town “come-from-aways.” Although Rick and I do indeed come from a ways away, we now truly feel connected to NFLD and now consider ourselves unofficial locals.
Newfoundland is called “The Rock.” For good reason. It’s an island consisting entirely of rock formations, some created from volcanic eruptions half a billion years ago, others left behind from landmasses clashing during continental drifts. As a result, Newfoundland has some of the oldest rocks in the world. And some of the most spectacular scenery you will ever witness. It’s a geologist’s dream and a nature lover’s paradise.
But I’ve been thinking more and more about those rocks these days since returning home — and I think we can learn a lot from them.
GREAT THINGS TAKE TIME
Much of Newfoundland originated as a volcanic eruption under the sea somewhere south of the equator, and over millions of years floated Northward to its landing spot today at the Easternmost point of North America. We learned that the island’s movement is slow: the same rate as growth of our fingernails.
Now, I know I don’t have millions or thousands or even hundreds of years to accomplish all of my goals. But when I think about how I push myself to complete something before it is (or I am) ready, or stress over the big picture, incapable of making a decision or any movement because the task seems way too big or insurmountable, I need only remind myself that great things take time. One step at a time — even if that step is only the length of a fingernail — is all that is needed for today. It’s motion forward, not backward. And it will lead to great things. Perhaps not according to my preferred timeline. But great things will come nonetheless.
BEAUTIFUL THINGS COME FROM CHAOS
Newfoundland is the result of volcanic eruptions and storm surges and tidal waves and collisions of continents and divisions of landmasses. Its terrain is scarred and battered and beaten by glaciers and ocean currents. And it is stunning. Captivating. Breathtaking. Smooth in some places, jagged in others. Covered in moss and wild flowers. A mosaic of greens and blues and browns and greys. Wild and unkempt and clean and crisp.
The best parts of me, the most beautiful parts of me, are the result of tragedy and loss and pain and heartache. Chaos leads to beauty. Jaw-dropping, show-stopping, heart-rate-inducing beauty. I have been scarred both emotionally and physically. I have had my extreme highs and my intensely depressed lows. I have been explosive. I have been implosive. And the result? Beauty. Raw and real beauty.
And my beauty may not be everybody’s taste. That’s okay. And you may be so close to your own beauty that you are not able to see it or appreciate it. But trust me . . . it’s there. Embrace it and share it with everyone around you. The world will be a more vibrant place for it.
WE ARE EVER CHANGING AND NEVER FINISHED
Newfoundland continues to move Northward. Very slowly of course (again, at the rate our fingernails grow); but each year it changes. The raging Atlantic Ocean changes the coastline by dumping huge boulders or dragging old ones away. We visited a tiny cove that had massive boulders that been delivered by the ocean just this winter. 10-ton rocks that were picked up and placed on the shore as if they were pebbles. And erosion from wind and storm and snow breaks down the landscape and smooths the rough edges of the cliffs, and the relentless tide continues to polish the small stones that wash up on the beach.
If an island the size of New York State is never done with its self-work, then why do we ever think we will be? Why do we long for a day when we will be perfect; when we will be finished with that diet; when we have gathered all the information we need in life? We are never done. Never. We are a work in progress. Change is normal. Change is healthy. Change is awesome. Change should be welcome.
And when we are pummeled with life’s storms and tidal surges, we are being invited to become everything we are supposed to be.
I love rocks and stones. I always have. But I never knew I had so much to learn from them. Thank you to “The Rock,” for showing me the way.