Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I was working in the communications department of an e-commerce solutions provider when I was pregnant with Thomas. I'd been there on contract for almost three years when I had him. I didn't go back after. I haven't set foot in the building since, as a matter of fact.

It belongs to my old life.

But when I did work there, back when I was a very different girl, I used to walk to and from the train station using the underground pathway beneath the streets of Toronto. There's a whole other city down there - hundreds of stores and businesses connected by miles of pathway snaking below the city.

I have a terrible sense of direction. Atrocious. The first day I ventured down into the underbelly, I figured I'd either end up at work or end up a hundred miles away from it, lost forever in the never-ending subterranean mall. By some miracle (and with the help of some surprisingly good maps and directional signs) I made it to work. With time to spare.

So I used the PATH (as it's called) almost every day. If it wasn't too hot, too cold or just generally miserable out, I'd walk above ground, but most of the time I stayed below, carefully retracing the steps I took each morning to return home each night.

Eventually I learned that there was more than one route to and from the train. A co-worker told me about it - told me that he went a completely different way than I did. I wondered if his route was shorter than mine, and wondered if that was the reason there was so little foot-traffic along portions of my walk.

But I kept walking the route I'd learned.

One day I happened to see a sign that said UNION STATION pointing in a different direction than the way I happened to be going. The way I walked to get to that very same place. I was tempted to try it. I was tempted almost every day thereafter. But I never did.

I walked that path for almost three years and the only time I varied my route was to venture above ground when the air was comfortable and clear.

I got thinking about my route this evening. I tried to walk it in my mind. Down the escalator, past the convenience store, through the food court, beyond the double doors and into the Scotiabank Towers. And that's where I get stuck. I can remember bits and pieces of the rest of the walk, but not how to link them all together.

I can't remember my route. I walked it a million times, never changing my course. And now it's gone.

You can be true to a route in life. You can plan it out carefully and walk it faithfully. You can memorize it and depend upon it and hide yourself away along its safe, comfortable lengths. But it doesn't mean it'll take you where you want to go, or that it's even the best way to get there.

Most importantly, it doesn't mean it'll take you where you need to go.

I think it's good that I can't remember my route. I don't want to learn another one that well ever again.

1 comment:

Lori said...

This immediately made me think of the words of Joseph Campbell:

"We must be willing to relinquish the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

Easier said than done... I know.