There are phrases out there that sometimes really get my blood going. Not because they are rude or obnoxious but often because they are a depressing sign of how our society has changed in a negative fashion. What constitutes negative is subjective hence common phrases don’t elicit similar reactions across diverse perspectives. My list includes such phrases as “play date,” sad that parents now need to pre-arrange their kids social interactions, “pet parents,” no, raising a dog is not comparable to parenting a child and any phrase that starts with the word “natural” or “alternative,” what does that really mean? Another phrase I am increasingly attuned to is “staycation.” Staycation is defined in Wikipedia as “a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.” It has come into fashion of late as it has become a unique, or should I say “alternative” vacation option. After working five days a week and knowing that Canada recently scored a pathetic 19th of 22 OECD countries on vacation time, one would think that staying at home and enjoying our local beauty would be the de-facto vacation choice. Why pay such incredible housing costs, work such long hours to live here and then leave the minute you can actually enjoy our own hood.
The International Air Travel Association proudly announced recently that they are seeing steady growth in international travel. Their graph on overall increases spanning several decades pretty much looks like the elevation gain map of Mt Gardner, up and up. The signs are all around us, from the increasing planes flying over our island, to the large number of islanders chugging role on suitcases up the stairs of the Queen of Capilano. Why the flight from what I consider to be one, if not the, most beautiful spots on the planet? Do the fiords of Norway really look that different than the ones we see coming across the sound on a daily basis? It seems like we are always chasing the next best destination, which brings me to another phrase that gets me going, “the world is my playground” and I have to work on my “bucket list.” Not only is this race to the great beyond extremely expensive, it also comes with a number of environmental costs and takes the joy out of living where we are. If Bowen is just work and we are constantly looking for a new playground to explore/exploit is that a recipe for a long happy fulfilling life on our island?
The almost cult like global consumer culture is a fairly recent phenomena, it never used to be this way. Bowen was ironically the local playground for Vancouver. Its beauty was so cherished and still is by urban dwellers that several steamships brought vacationers to our shores on a weekly basis. We had dance halls, outdoor swimming pavilions, lawn bowling, tennis courts, the list goes on. Staying local was the thing to do, it wasn’t a unique holiday experience, it was the holiday experience. People didn’t think about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro they climbed Mt. Gardner or Grouse Mountain. For those who haven’t done either, Grouse is shorter, has trees on it and a bar at the top. Why in the world would you fly to Africa for an outdoor experience you can get to on public transit locally? Cross continental trips not too long ago were a once in a lifetime experience, not a yearly outing to escape the drudgery of the working world. Our holidays didn’t revolve around deciding where to go but what to do. Spend time with family, hike the local trails, sit back on the deck of Doc’s with a good book (and a lager of course). With our limited time off, our increasingly busy lifestyles, our stressed financial budgets and a planet that is heating up faster than a Facebook discussion on Everything Else about dog poop bags left in the woods, it seems that a lot of the desire to leave is more a desire to escape. Escaping the realities of the daily grind can be difficult but does it really need to involve extravagant trips to places afar? We seem to be living in times that encourage the view that we are living in some kind of amusement park. You got to try all the rides or you are missing out.
Here is hoping we can spend a bit more time on our island enjoying our surroundings and not always searching for that next elusive playground fix half way around the world. I hope you all have a fantastic Bowen summer.