Take Off & Leave It All Behind

April 13, 2023 08:30 AM By Paul Boucher

So today, by sharing this, I hope to encourage fellow self-employed persons to go beyond the “work-life balance” conversation. 

Instead, imagine taking off and leaving it all behind to follow a passion. Not forever, but a meaningful enough amount of time to rediscover yourself, leave “digital” and almost everything it conjures in your imagination behind, and frankly just to stop. Love a bit more deeply – people, the world and all the beauty in it. And maybe, find a way to live in the present moment, unshackling yourself from your past – or perhaps more accurately, put it in its place: the past.

Over the past several years, and especially during the pandemic, I began to appreciate my visceral need to be connected to the physical environment I’m in, and like-minded people to do it with.

Fortunately, I live an hour away from the Rocky Mountains and Banff National Park, not to mention the even closer provincial area called Kananaskis (where Leonardo DiCaprio starred in The Revenant, where Inception filmed that fabulous Snow Fortress sequence, etc.).

As a result, in 2017, I refocused my energy into some favourite physical pursuits, road cycling and hiking. In doing that, the most incredible people dropped into my life. 

After numerous hikes, I also rediscovered a nearly 20-year-old desire to trek the Camino de Santiago, originally inspired by a friend who’d read Paulo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage, and then done the trek. Last year, I was re-inspired after another friend’s trek on the Camino. That was a gift to my imagination that I would have been a fool to turn away.

This time, I acted to make it happen. 

I didn’t succumb to the trap a lot of self-employed people fall into, which is NOT doing something based on fear.

Fear of being away for three weeks. Fear of not generating revenue for that time. Whatever.

Instead, I thought, HOW MANY TIMES have I allowed that sort of reasoning to turn me away from something that I genuinely want to do before I die (call it a bucket list item if you prefer)? Isn’t that at least ONE of the reasons I’m self-employed? Other than likely being unemployable now after 24 years of being my own boss. LOL.

So, for the next few weeks I’ll undertake the first section of the Camino Francés route stretching from St jean Pied de Port in France, to Burgos in Northern Spain. As a bonus, I’ll be sharing the adventure with my 18-year-old son.  One of the interesting things about being a dad a second time is how aware I’ve become of how much richer bonds can be when the kids know you as more than just a parent – and I, in turn know them as more than “just” the kids.

This isn’t the sort of adventure our family could have supported during my childhood/adolescence (means, scope to travel, blah, blah). I would have LOVED to do something like this with my dad. He’s been gone since 1993 (way too young), but I like to visualize him wearing a “NO FEAR” T-shirt and applauding as we set out. 

I look forward to returning refreshed, and likely humbled a bit, to tell new stories.

For now, though, I’ll say goodbye to my padded room, my microphone, and the familiarity of “the usual” for three weeks. I’m grateful for every step so far, and every one to come.

May YOU check a passion item on your bucket list this year. No fear. Eyes, arms, and heart wide open. It’ll do you good!