Until my early thirties, my identity was ineluctably western. I had disdain for all things of the (north american) east. This disdain was bred partly from ignorance, and partly from the opinions of eastnerners themselves. The latter often opined (with a graciousness toward their new hosts that could be bred nowhere but in the east) that the sense of freedom and wide open space, once experienced, was addictive. Once a westerner always a westerner. You can take the easterner out of the east and vice-versa, but not so for the westerner, neophyte or not.
I have been disabused of many notions throughout my lifetime and I have fought many of those renderings to nil with a ferociousness bred of ignorance and close-mindedness. Which is what I (the westerner) was. Close-minded. The opposite of what I thought I was all those years. It is only now, in Montreal, that I a realize how many years I wasted in such a bigoted mindframe. Bigoted not in the sense of racist, but bigoted in the sense of being against cities, of being against People!
A culturally acceptable misanthropy led in mind to my own ‘final solution:’ the evacuation of anything to do with people from my own personal worldview. In northern British Columbia such eccentric and autodidactic and crepuscular views (the dimming of the light of civilization) can take root (none with any sense to disabuse). I needed nothing more than a day long walk through rainforest and an encounter with the deep ecology of things to confirm my views: a bear feeding on berries on a hot summer mountainside; the sound of snowmelt on alpine slopes in early June in amidst fat bees humming across paintbrush and sky-high wildflowers.
Out east now I have access to many of the things that in the back of my mind I always knew I wanted but I wouldn’t necessarily admit to. The galleries and music, the games and festivals, the sheer social enigma of cities and people and culture. I have these things now at my disposal just as in my mind I always have those sky-high images of mountains and deserts to go back to. Before long I’ll return, but I’ve only been out east now for eight years.
Photo by: Gwilym Lucas Eades