Flexibility is key

A “fogbow” off the coast of northern Labrador (Credit Samantha McBeth)
Travel, travel. You must always be prepared to have your plans change at the last-minute. I was supposed to leave from Ottawa yesterday, to start making my way towards Hawai’i and the World Conservation Congress. I was excited, I was frantic, I was trying to see how much scuba gear I could get away with in a single suitcase…

I couldn’t find my passport.

After tearing through every nook and cranny, and emptying every bag, I had to come to the conclusion that is was gone. Woosh. Last place I had it was in the side pocket of my purse. The easily accessible one. And the last time I saw was boarding a Greyhound bus out of Montreal, my arms loaded with bags, sweating bullets in the midst of another city heat wave. Very distracted, and very noticeable.

Lesson learned. One missed flight and one very, very expensive express passport later (one hour!) and I am ready for take-off number two!

I find it funny that it’s the second time in a month that I having difficulty leaving from YOW. In late July, I was part of a wonderous expedition to the Arctic with Students on Ice, an adventure I hope to share more of with you all during the coming weeks. That journey as well was off to a rocky start. Unable to fly North due to heavy fog in Nunavut. We were all presented with the unofficial motto of SOI by its founder, Geoff Green: “Flexibility is key.”

Sunset at sea (Credit Samantha McBeth)
This is a good rule of thumb for both travelling across Canada and setting off on a new adventure, of any kind. Our country is as wide as it is long, with mountains and oceans and Great Lakes and all manner of weather systems. Nature is changeable, and so must you be. The Arctic meteorology is not subject to your whims, and neither are the storms. I’ve been stuck in an airport before, and I will be stuck again. It’s okay.

Flexibility, and trust. Trust that you will find a way to get there, trust in the people you will meet along the way, and trust that the journey may be different then the one you imagined. And trust in your own adaptability.

Arrival in Iqaluit, despite the fog (Credit Kim Mathieu)
When it came to that expedition to the Arctic, we did manage to fly into Iqaluit, despite a low cloud ceiling, thanks in part to a skilled and intrepid pilot, and a little luck. The rest of the expedition was subject to change, moved by fog, chasing polar bears and chasing ice. Flexibility is key.

I hope this foray of mine into the problem solving aspects of environmental issues, project planning and partnership, proves to be one of flexibility, understanding and trust as well. It is my greatest hope for this Congress “at the crossroads.”

You can’t blame the fog, and you can’t curse your luck. And with a bit of flexibility, and little trust, you may get to see some beautiful fogbows yet.

Write to you soon from Hawaiian Islands, maybe with more stories of travel getting there. Meanwhile, safe journeys!

Bon vent, mahalo.




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