How do you put a life-changing experience like this down on paper? You don’t… you attempt to capture it in a blog (ok not funny). My point being, that at the end of an amazing adventure like this it is difficult to remember every specific piece of the puzzle, but I will always remember each of the friends.
In response to one of the local news articles that I was in (the Peterborough Examiner), someone wrote that they have over 500 Facebook friends that are merely Mob allies or fellow Farmville farmers. In my case, other than the casual Scrabble or Family Feud game with a friend on Facebook, I never really got into those games. It has been my policy that in order to be a friend with me we have to have met in person. This is partially because I am now a qualified teacher and one has to be more careful, but mostly because I believe Facebook is a tool for maintaining friendships, not creating them. This means that all of my over 1,200 Facebook friends range anywhere from acquaintance to family to best friends. Of these 1,200 I visited over 300 in the last month.
A lot of people have asked me what I’ve learned about myself over the last month. I wanted to say that I learned that I can deal with being alone for prolonged periods of time but I always suspected that they were looking for something a little deeper. The biggest thing that I learned was about friendship. Now if you have read the rest of my blog you know some of the big life conclusions I have recently discovered. I think the coolest part of this trip was learning that friendship is not time-sensitive and it does not have to fade with distance and time (if you do not want it to). Friendship is not based on the amount of times someone likes your status nor the number of years they post a birthday message. Facebook does not dictate the way we become friends nor does it control the extent to which we stay in touch. Facebook cannot make you send me a message or post a song that reminded you of a great memory. Facebook does, however, facilitate a way of staying connected with people across the province, country, or even the world. It is through social media that I have been able to maintain friendships with some of the most amazing people on the planet. This statement may sound cliché or childish, but in reality I know who I will be friends with forever. Years from now when I am financially stable I know that I will travel to visit most of these amazing people.
That being said, friendship is a two-way street. Many people believe that friendship is about give and take. This I believe is true but not in that one person gives while the other takes. For those of you who read that and don’t understand, it is most likely that you are the taker in most friendships. Before being upset think about it. If you read that and realized that you are usually the giver, this is good. The downside is that there are far more takers than givers in the world (in my opinion). The optimistic look at this is that, if you know what you are looking for, you can find friends who will put the same amount of effort into a friendship as you do. For those people who don’t know what they are looking for, you have two options, figure it out or expect nothing from everyone. Expecting nothing means that you will be pleasantly surprised when something goes well, but never really happy with your situation. I was asked on Live television if I had “unfriended” anyone on this trip. The answer I gave was no, no one lost their status as “Facebook friend”, but I will admit that a few people (not many) did get reassigned. Most of the people I visited were more than excited to see me and hear my stories. It wasn’t until I came closer to home that I found people who, to paraphrase Mark Twain, made me an option when I made them a priority. No matter how old you are, where you are from, or what you do, the realization that some people genuinely don’t care about you or genuinely about themselves is a tough one to swallow. It is difficult to move past but once you do, you will be able to find better, deeper, and stronger friendships with other people. Who knows, maybe those people are already on your Facebook list and are just waiting for some amazing opportunity to reconnect with you. It is this that I am most thankful for.
Looking back at some of the best photos I still can’t believe that a month ago I hadn’t seen any of it. I also did not realize the extent to which I had missed my friends across the country. I could not have dreamed of a better way to spend my summer and now that I’m back I have started to plan more camping trips with all of the amazing product from Canadian Tire that have been unloaded from my car.
One month. 332 friends. 17,000 kilometers. One dream. One amazing summer adventure.
Here’s to an amazing adventure of discovery! Thank you so much Canadian Tire!