Last year when I was in Africa, I spent a night at a cosy little resort close to my field station. While there were clearly amenities missing, this was my idea of paradise. The lodge was built atop a crater lake, with a breathtaking view of the hills in the distance, then the plummeting landscape of the basin beneath. The food was fantastic but simple, and there was no electricity, so it ran by candlelight at night. It was owned by a British couple. I will never forget the image of this couple, silhoutted against the beautiful landscape by the glow of candelight, stargazing through their telescope, laughing together, and having a glass of wine. I later asked the man how one comes to acquire such a seemingly perfect existence. His reply: “Never give up on your dream life, Ria. They do exist, if you try hard enough to find them”.
Such a simple statement, said with conviction. Yet this concept seems to be one that humanity unanimously struggles with. Perfection….happiness…..is it that we don’t really know what they are, or we just don’t know how to attain them? How many people do you know go to work every morning loving what they do? How many have given up on their dreams for a steady paycheque and a life of creature comforts?
I came to McGill following a deep-rooted passion for animals. My PhD has caused an uncomfortable distance with my family, broken ties with the best of friends, pushed me to the brink of my sanity, and made me wonder, on more than one occasion, if I actually know anything about ANYTHING at all. But I still have my passion, I can see my dream life. I’m heading closer towards it, not further away. That I haven’t settled for anything less will make this journey worthwhile. And for now, that is enough.