Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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The Road Less Travelled: Adventures in YYC

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The city core is filled with quiet spaces that invite walkers by to pause, catch their breath and sit awhile. In the west end of downtown there’s Poetic Corner, a tiny oasis of zen-like space designed to give passers-by pause to contemplate the giant arachnid sculptures perched on the stone steps.

On 7th Avenue, there’s the park by the NOVA building, complete with meandering streams and streaming waterfalls.

Yesterday, while walking to a meeting in the late afternoon, I passed the park at the MacDougall Centre, the southern offices of the Premier and found myself entranced by the sounds of the tumbling waterfalls, the firs whispering in the breeze and the birds chirping in their branches. I’ve passed this park many times and never taken the time to discover it. I’ve always been on my way to somewhere, a meeting, a lunch date, back to the office. I’ve always had a reason to hurry by.

It is the nature of being at home in the city.

While sitting with a couple of girlfriends on Monday sharing lunch at a local pub, I glanced out the window beside us and spied a Magpie hopping along the roof of an SUV parked beside the building.

“Isn’t that interesting,” I commented to my friends. “I see that Magpie and my mind immediately started to discount its presence.”

Magpies are everywhere in Calgary. They squawk and taunt from tree tops and where ever else they’re perched. They hop along lawns, willing errant squirrels and other rodents to chase them. In the sunlight, their feathers glimmer with pearlescent hues of green and blue and aqua. But mostly they’re considered a nuisance.
What struck me as interesting though was how watching that bird on the rooftop immediately took me back in time to a vacation in New Zealand. We’d gone for a month’s ski trip only to discover the snow was awful. So instead, we toured about the south island. One day, sitting in a pub chatting with my then husband and some other friends we’d met along the way, I spied a Kia hopping along the roof of a vehicle parked outside.

I thought the bird was cute. His antics amusing.

He’s a nuisance, our friends said.

I laughed and went outside to take his photo.

It’s all in our perspective.

Sitting in that pub in New Zealand, everything looked fresh and new. Everything was interesting. Nothing looked like a nuisance.

Sitting in a pub in Calgary, I see the world through my eyes accustomed to the everyday. Magpies are nuisances. Parks I pass everyday are just that. Everyday spaces I don’t have time to explore.

ThIMG_7316anks to the awareness gained through my observations of that Magpie, I took the time yesterday to stay awhile in the park at MacDougall Centre. I walked beneath the firs, skipped across the blocks of concrete that cross the stream at the top of the waterfall and sat on a bench in the late afternoon sun soaking in the tranquility of my surroundings, even as the city traffic scurried by on the avenues bordering either side of the park.

I didn’t hear them.

I was immersed in the beauty and wonder of the space that surrounded and embraced me. The space I was inhabiting in that moment.

I still made my meeting on time. The difference was, I carried with me the tranquility of that moment in time, when I stopped to take the road less travelled and savoured the world around me.

Or, in the words that end Robert Frost’s iconic poem, The Road Not Taken,
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.