In the Winter of 2008, in a suburb north of the city of Dublin, Ireland something felt amiss.
I was living comfortably, the apartment I lived in was scenic and well situated and my neighbors were quiet and pleasant. I made good money, had a nice nest egg of security in the bank and my health was fine. But something was just not right.
“Is this it?” I thought. “Is this the next 60 or so years of my life?.” At that time I didn’t have the words to describe it but what I was feeling could be summed up as ennui, a restless boredom.
The recession, both global and local was in full swing. My job was relatively secure but any hope of a raise or a promotion had vanished.
Find What You Love and Let it Kill You
The recession, in hindsight, was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
It effectively kicked a wedge underneath the hamster wheel I was on and broke me out of the trance I was in to find some corporate ladder somewhere and blindly begin climbing it.
My wife, working in financial institutions also, experienced the same thing. We spent many evenings talking about what we should do next.
Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that we needed a fresh start, a new perspective.
We needed to try living somewhere different. Even though we had everything we’d been raised to believe would give us happiness, we simply weren’t happy.
Over the next couple of years, we had to make some hard decisions.
We sold off everything we owned, let our friends and family know we were moving, left our careers behind and, finally, in early 2010, with only 3 suitcases of belongings remaining between us we uprooted ourselves and headed west to Canada.
Growing Up in Canada
My wife grew up in Alberta and I had visited Canada a few times in the past to see her while we were dating. Canada, particularly the Southwest of the Province of British Columbia, had always been this far off pipe dream destination to eventually move to since we had driven through there on a road trip back at the turn of the Century.
It only began to sink in that our dream had become a reality when we set foot inside our first rented apartment, in the small town of Squamish, British Columbia, and put our suitcases on the floor.
It was liberating to be there, without Careers to worry about, bills to pay or expectations to meet. We truly felt free. The town we moved to, Squamish, is surrounded by water and mountains. With an abundance of time on our hands, we began to explore these wild places.
Exploring Our New Home
Something we began to quickly realize, as we walked the trails near our new home, swam in the lakes, and began to push higher up to the snow-capped summits around us was that we were reconnecting with a feeling we’d long since forgotten, the curiosity we’d once had as children, when we’d spent entire Summers in the woods, in awe of tadpoles and frogs, happy to be among the tall grass fields and feeling content with simply being.
Somewhere along the line, in the process of growing up, we’d replaced being motivated by curiosity with being motivated to keep up with our peer groups, advancing ourselves financially and increasing our status in our society. This was maturity we felt and it was what our families and cultures expected of us.
Feeding Our Curiosity
Without this pressure to be, or at least appear, mature, this latent curiosity that I feel we all always have resurfaced and we embraced it.
Simply feeding our curiosity has taken us to some amazing places and given us some amazing experiences. In Ireland, we were both very much couch potatoes but now, in Canada, we are driven to not only see as much of the wilderness around us as possible but we are also curious about what our bodies and minds are capable of.
We fell in love with the mountains all around us. They are places of jaw-dropping beauty but also an arena where we can test ourselves and see what we are made of.
In the last 4 years since coming to Canada, we’ve grown a lot. Our desire to see the high, wild places in the mountains has pushed us to learn many new skills from Mountaineering to Ice and Rock Climbing to Skiing and Mountain Biking. Before coming to Canada we’d never owned a tent but now we spend many nights a year perched high in the mountains in one.
We’ve been asked how we’ve been able to learn so much in what seems like a short time. The answer is simple. Curiosity.
While others might spend time at the Bar or watching TV we’re looking at maps to see which new mountains we’ll explore, reading about how different foods will affect our bodies and learning the skills and training needed for specific activities.
My wife, Spring, is currently training for her 2nd Ultramarathon, an 80km race through technical trail networks in our home of Squamish. Since coming to Canada I have lost over 100lbs in body fat and am currently training to climb harder rock routes and working to inspire more people to explore the wild through my photography.
This, a life spent connected to the natural world, testing our limits, has brought us happiness. We’ve truly found what we love and have embraced it fully.
Find What You Love and Let it Kill You
Which brings me to the title of this post, a quote from the poet Charles Bukowski. I’ve seen it misconstrued a few times as a motto for the self-destructive adrenaline junkie or thrill seeker. This isn’t at all how it should be understood.
Here’s the rub, life is going to kill all of us. We may not feel it, but the energy we have is finite, precious and ephemeral, and every day a little bit more of it gets used up and evaporates.
Faced with this fact, we have a choice, we can either live a life that stays within the tracks, that is filled with ‘What ifs’ and ‘Someday I will’ or we can find something we love in life and pour all of our energy into that until nothing is left.
When myself and my wife reconnected with being curious, we were also imbued with a sense of urgency to live our lives better, chase happiness and to understand how precious and fragile existence really is. We feel we are now doing this.
Our advice to everyone is simple, listen to your younger self, who knew how to be happy and curious, and let a life lived well use up every second you have on this Earth.
Find what you love and let it kill you.
Leigh and Spring McClurg are Writers, Photographers and Adventurers. Currently living in Squamish, BC, they look for every opportunity to explore, whether it be by visiting new mountain summits in the wild or exploring the limits of their own minds and bodies. At the heart of everything they do is a love for the wild, natural places around them. They hope, through their words and pictures, to inspire others to venture outside into the natural world also.