It was 1997 and I was 16 years old. My parents were in the midst of a divorce. I was experiencing depression for the first time. I had mearly just started to “find myself” after my family had moved to Los Angeles just a coupld short years earlier. I had made close friends, fell in love for the first time, got my drivers licence and was in the early stages of planning post-secondary education. I was in the middle of my own puppy-love break-up and life felt upsidedown. Marijuana and escapism started coming into play. It was the begining of a depression that would last the next two decades of my life.
I was able to relocate to San Francisco for the begining of college, which I would drop out of shortly after due to health and financial reasons. My family retunred to Canada and I was yet again at the crossroads of my life, without direction. Feeling lost and displaced, my camera was my only identity. It was my backstage pass to any cultural movement. I had made many friends in Califnornia, and after crossing the border on-tour with my freind’s band, I was stuck back in Toronto where I had no personal identity or connection with. This set the stage for the next 20 years of my life. This summer I’ll turn 38. I decided enough was enough. I’ve been awaiting the perfect time to return to the place where I first “found myself”, my creativity, my soul and meaningful friendships.
Admist rising living costs in Toronto, Canada, the loft I was renting was purchased by new owners, they wanted old tenents out to convert units to condos. During the slow year I was having in business, I was bought out of my lease and saw an opportunity to leave the country. Enter HAVEN. A coliving house in Venice Beach, California. A beautiful compound of furnished amenities and travellers of a health and wellness mindset. To most my friends and family it sounded too good to be true. After a Skype tour, application and background check, I was accepted into the community. Within six weeks I sold everything I owned and bought a plane ticket to paradise.
Upon arrival and dipping my toes into the sandy beach, surrounded by palm trees, a glowing sun and energy of the ocean, I made it back home. It’s been an emotional first week of happiness and relief from two decades of depression and displacement. Mind you, a little CBD in my iced coffee help put me in touch with my feelings. I’ve been experiencing tears of joy and relief almost every day. But today I am surrounded by spiritual house-mates and old friends I haven’t spoken to in over two decades. They have all welcomed me with open arms. People have responded to me within 24-hours here, where in Toronto, people drag their feet to comit to anything or may not respond at all!
As of today, I have six months to get my shit together and make a life work for me here. I honestly feel I have found the end of the rainbow. I plan to reinvent myself, my career and attract the things I care about the most, friendships, creativity and my health. The weight of 20 years has instantly been lifted off my shoulders. I sleep like a log and my dreams are more vivid than ever before. Just the sight of a palm tree puts a smile on my face. Every plant, person and street makes me feel more optomistic about life here again for the first time. What took me four years to develop community in Toronto, has take me four hours of landing in a safe place, community and country I feel most alive in. My soul has been touched, and while I have risked so much, I have found hope in life again. I won’t go too far into the depths of my despair, but I was ready to end my life. Instead, I flipped life on its head and took the greatest chance I could, to be happy once again.
So while my friends and family had a lot of questions and concerns about my choices, they are now releived to see me happy again for the first time. My goal is to become a better friend, brother, son and overal human. But first I have a little work to do on myself as I open myself up to all posibilities. To follow my heart and be a passenger of life. I could cry just writing this. Today I went for my first run down the street and jumped into the ocean. Within my first week we experienced the biggest earthquake California has had in 20 years. Internally, I feel my life decisions have been earth shattering. So whether I’m here for six weeks, six months or six years…I’ll never regret making the choices I have today. I won’t die asking myself “what-if”. And all my old friends have welcomed me home, because they know this is where my heart is. And for anyone questioning their own life choices, I say, just do it.