“There are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths.” 

Mark Nepo

The check-in guard gazed over my body with vigilance, distracted in his professional duties by the purple butterfly bag draped over my left shoulder.  The stern, dower face softened, and I knew a witty comment had arisen into his head the moment a glowing grin heightened across his face. 

“What they sold out of the ones in pink?” 

His quip seemed so typically Canadian, a goofy sense of humour I’d become acquainted with over the last five weeks.  I guess that’s what I get for doing present shopping for my three-year-old niece at the airport giftshop. 

The line shuffled forward, allowing me to edge closer to the security scanner, where I unhinged the belt from my waist with care, placing it in the tray among my travel items and the butterfly bag. 

The guard returned to serious mode, reaching out with a big lumbering hand to drag the tray onto the little rollers, which made a knurling noise as plastic clashed with metal, liberating it from my reach to move towards the scanner. 

Another guard caught my attention, and waved me forward with a hand outstretched, beckoning me to proceed towards the towering grey arch scanner. 

I walked through with those deliberate steps everyone always takes at airport security scanners, as if moving carefully through increases the chances of not being pulled over. 

*Beep* *Beep* rung out the scanner, this was a good beep, rather than the bad beep where your body gets molested with a scanning wand.  With my freedom I hurried to grab my things, panic rushing to tighten the belt back up and wait in the departure lounge. 

Home was still 3556 miles away, but it was nice to know I only had a few dozen more steps to take to get there. 

With a seven-hour flight, and lots of waiting, I had ample time to reflect that the opportunity I’d dreamed of for the last 6 years was about to come to a premature end, and here I was returning home early, a failure.  I couldn’t help wonder what could have been done differently. 

But I was always grateful to make it this far as my dream to live in Canada nearly ended before I had even set off. 

This was the river downstream from Niagra Falls. © James M. Lane

The original plan was for a friend from university to come along with me for the ride, however two months before we were due to jet off, he flaked on me. 

I was angry, and upset, that he’d left me to go alone.  Despite the setback, nothing was going to stop me following my dream.   

During my short tenure I’d seen some really great sights, but these were always bitter sweet moments as each new memory created a glowing self-awareness of my loneliness – I had no one I loved with me to share those moments with. 

It was only by leaving home, I learnt how much family meant to me. 

My plan had been to work in this country and make it my home.  I’d put my life in England back on hold to experience this moment, turning down jobs and holding off relationships.  All those sacrifices felt like they were for nothing, here I was, coming home. 

My mind was filled with questions – What would I do when I returned?  How would I explain the gap in my career?  How could I admit to everyone the dream I’d talked about for years, was just something I didn’t want as much as I said? 

What next? 

Tree cover in snow at Niagra Falls. © James M. Lane

Eleven years later… 

I often look at the words of my travel journal documenting my short stay in Canada, started with good intent that this would be some sort of epic recording of a life adventure, one last blow out before settling down. 

The reality was a documentation of broken dreams and plans that never happened, giving a harrowing account of loneliness, as I moved from hostel to hostel, living in a country where I knew no one. 

I’ll admit to this day I often think about the what if’s of that journey a lot. 

What if I’d stayed, would I still be there now? 

What if I’d made some tight new friends who changed my whole life? 

What if I met the love of my life?  How would my fate be changed forever?

But then I remind myself of reality, where none of these possibilities never happened, and recognising the futility of dwelling on the what if’s

When my dream didn’t work out, I took decisive action not to live in that fantasy of what might have happened, instead choosing to focus on what’s next?

Although it would have been nice for my time in Canada to have gone another way, I’ll always have undying gratitude I took a chance to do something outside my comfort zone. 

Despite all my fears and doubts to pursue my desires and follow the dream, I’m grateful I took the risk. 

I’d rather be a failure and pursue what I want, rather than wondering what could have been.  By chasing this ambition, I never am haunted thinking “Why didn’t you follow your dream to live in Canada?” 

When you have something you feel you must do, something you dream about for years, a desire so bad you feel it’s about to burst out of your soul, let nothing stop you from pursuing that goal.

Follow your dream.

My dream to live in Canada started the day I took a holiday to the country, and I had that daring thought “wouldn’t it be great to live here?” 

Through my actions I turned this into a reality, although it wasn’t a bad place to be, it just wasn’t right for me. 

No regrets… 

My Canadian dream never worked out, becoming nothing but a footnote in my life so far.  Things may not have gone to plan, but that wasn’t a bad thing. 

Instead, I got the opportunity to create many new wonderful chapters instead – I enrolled in a master’s degree, found a career I loved, met a woman who became my wife and started a family. 

How can one regret a dream not working out, when you gain so many wonderful things to replace it?

Wishing you the best in your success.

James @Perfect Manifesto

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Related post What To Do When Your Dream Passes You By?

What to do when your dream passes you by?

12 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye To The Canadian Dream

  1. You did absolutely the right thing following your Canadian dream James and it took courage to do it especially given that you were let down by your friend. I’m sure the journey taught you resilience and perspective that have benefited you to this day.

    Your story really resonated with me, I had a dream from my teens to get to the Grand Canyon and on the journey I also felt loneliness and doubt and missed home badly. I told the story in a guest blog on Hugh Robert’s excellent blog site Hugh’s News and Views. If you’d like to read it (no worries if you don’t) here is the link: https://hughsviewsandnews.com/2020/08/24/how-a-journey-of-a-million-miles-showed-me-the-value-of-home-a-guest-post-by-paul-ariss-paulariss1/?fbclid=IwAR2qWPn9F04rbnf6zbg4aERJngSy2tSDydhTH8lSln8Tmb-k9PbBQZqlT7M


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Paul, I certainly learnt a few lessons and grateful for the experience.

      I’ll make sure to check out your post, thanks for commenting.


    1. Thanks Jim great (but short) time there. It changed my attitude about doing more things on my own as before I was the type of person who needed someone to join me to do something. It makes life easier when you’re will to pursue what you want!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. and it is nice to be able to look back on something and see what you learned from it. reminds me of Steve Jobs’ graduation speech where he said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”


  2. Ah yes universal health care for everyone and not employment based! People who can debate politics without killing each other! People who are appalled at the numbers of school shootings and who don’t get offended about talks of gun control. A much more equitable society where POC aren’t expected to “know their place”. I miss all of that!

    Signed, a Canuck

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I miss it! I’d have moved back but my daughter and grandkids are here. I wouldn’t be able to live far away from them again! (I lived in Arizona and New Mexico while they lived in Missouri and that was too far!)


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