Les Brown said religious people are afraid of going to hell; spiritual people have already been there. With a degree in religion in my back pocket, and years of religiously attending church every Sunday morning, I certainly never wanted to go to hell. I moved to Canada instead. Today I’m looking back on nine years in this larger-than-life country.
When I first came to Canada, I decided to rent a small, almost one hundred year old farmhouse on a twenty-six acre lot just outside the city. It was an interesting experience. In my old neighborhood, you’d find about twelve apartment buildings on that same size lot, leaving very little space for each individual. Many people want to escape that anonymous and crowded city life. Having all that space to myself with virtually no one caring about what I did was quite liberating. I had large bonfires, launched fireworks and had a pretty good time, until winter came. Winter on that property was unpleasant to say the least. The furnace was undersized for the house, and therefore it was tough to keep the place warm. Even harder was the driveway, which was positioned incorrectly (as I learned later) giving the famous Alberta prairie winds free play to dump lots and lots of snow onto it. Even if it didn’t snow at all, I found myself plowing most of the weekend to be able to get back to work on Monday.
In winter, some people say, Canada is the equivalent of hell on earth. I’m a skier so love the winters and the distinctly different seasons that we get to experience. While I don’t mind the cold, my Canadian adventure did turn into hell on earth. By removing everything familiar to me I was left with just myself, and had to completely reinvent myself. That included an extended sick leave with diagnosed depression and burn out where the doctor required me to stay at home for several months. That’s how much I hated my life and everyone and everything that was part of it. I lost myself, and many friends going through that process. I just ended up watching funny movies and was a frequent customer at Blockbuster before Netflix and iTunes replaced them. I bought myself a postcard that says, “If you’re going through hell, just keep going”. It’s what literally kept me going.
But what if hell and heaven were on earth, right on this planet with us now? In my nine years here, I’ve definitely experienced heaven on earth, being in the right environment, surrounded by the right group of people. Hell is something temporary you might go through, but the only way out of hell is through, building towards the life you truly want to live. If society was built on people living their passions in freedom, we could all experience heaven on earth.
Reality is that often we have very little control over the things that surround us. We might work towards a certain goal or possession, but certain events just happen to you. It’s the events in life that make up the circumstances around you, and those can either be positive (heaven) or negative (hell). It’s up to you what you do with those circumstances, and how you respond to them is an active choice you can make. You might be going through hell, but the only way out is through. After nine years (and counting), all I can say is this: Keep going, and you might just find heaven can exist on earth after all.
Curious to read more? In my second best-selling book The Freedom Project – Happiness I share many more stories from my early days in Canada: the good, the bad and the ugly. The book is available through Amazon and finer book retailers worldwide.
And for those who also live in Canada: the book is also available on Amazon Canada!FreedomProjectBook.com