Struggles with silence and self-doubt

My family has endured a lot of change in the last six months. First, there was preparing for the move – immigration forms, getting the house ready for sale, and various other logistics. These ‘tasks,’ while certainly daunting, were all relatively prescriptive – just get them down on a list, and start knocking them off.

Next was the move itself. Picture this: the date, Sunday, September 9, 2017.

Our bags are packed and in the rental car that we had arranged for our final days in Minnesota (we had sold Lani’s Volvo because, of course, she can’t just drive her American car over the Canadian border without fees, fines and paperwork). The house in Bloomington, MN is finally ready for sale. It has literally NEVER looked better, cleaner or more “move-in ready.” Just as we’re walking down the stairs, we realize the baby gate is still attached to the walls.

Without missing a beat, Lani and I divide and conquer. She takes Rowan and Kona (our cat) down to the front yard and distracts her while I begin to dismantle the gate and store it in the garage. We have some leftover paint from various touch ups that I slap on the walls and boom, we’re good to go.

As we hop in the car to head to the airport reasonably on time, Kona lets out a few groggy whimpers from her cat carrier. She doesn’t like the carrier, nor is she partial to riding in the car. We had given her a mild sedative from the vet for our 1.5 hour flight, and we figured that would be setting in shortly.

As we arrive to the Hertz return at the airport, I find one of those $5 luggage carts and begin piling our bags on in the most strategic way possible. We had six bags (2 per passenger to check) and three carry-ons, including Rowan’s stroller and car seat. Oh, and our cat. I can’t imagine what it must have looked like to watch us push that cart across the airport. Actually, I can – and I’m sure it was ridiculous.

We finally make it to the elevator that takes you up to the terminal and Lani turns to me, saying, “Ben, did you fart?!” In one of the few times I can remember, I could truthfully respond, “No, I didn’t!” People are always farting in airports and pretending it’s the next guy, so I shrugged it off as some previous elevator passenger.

As we get to the Delta check in counter, we notice the smell is still with us. Both coming to the same horrible realization simultaneously, Lani and I reluctantly turn toward each other, one of us saying “did Kona shit in her crate?!”

Yes, our cat shit herself in the airport. On the way to another country. While we’re pushing 9,754 bags on a card designed for maybe six. But this picturesque performance didn’t end here. We began speaking with the agent at the Delta counter and as she’s reviewing our passports she sees that Rowan has a US Passport Card. She points to some tiny text on the back that says the card is only valid for “land and sea travel.”

After a few not-so-nice comments back and forth, we step away from the counter, defeated, shitty cat in-hand, and walk back towards the turd-stained elevator. Lani was (rightfully) pissed. I was stunned, but at that point I was thinking to myself, there is no fucking way we are going back to that house to wait for another flight. We are going to Canada, today! 

We ended up renting a one-way Dodge Caravan from the airport to do the drive straight through to Winnipeg that afternoon and evening. After an hour-long stop at the border, we made it through to Stonewall, Manitoba, where we’d reside with Lani’s folks for the first couple months.

Now that the dust has settled

As we’ve been in Canada now for several months, my role as part-time employee/stay at home dad has morphed slightly. I’m now working less in a consultant role for my company and Rowan is in daycare two days a week. This leaves an opportunity for me to look inward to think about new pursuits.

I’ve always struggled with these times of contemplation. I am someone who likes to have work to do, tasks to complete. Perhaps this is why I didn’t get rattled when we were staring at about a thousand things to do before we had to make the move to Canada. Maybe that’s why I now feel anxious as the ‘work’ coming in has dried up.

Lately, Lani and I have been discussing my interests and how now is the time for me to pursue something that aligns with my passion for urban agriculture and entrepreneurship. Being a good partner, she is encouraging me to explore as many resources as possible and start putting together a business plan. I love that she’s encouraging me like this, yet I still struggle with my next steps, sometimes to the point where I’m rejecting her support for reasons I can’t even understand.

There is a voice inside my head (not that kind of voice) that doubts my every next move. I say to myself, how can I start on this business plan if I can’t see the complete picture? Don’t I need ______ (insert any excuse) before I can really get going?

What I realize now is that Lani is telling me to ignore that voice. She’s telling me, it doesn’t matter if you fail…the important thing is that you try. Perhaps this internal doubt that I’ve held all this year isn’t even me doubting myself – maybe it’s just me giving myself an excuse not to do the work.

Either way, I think I’ll ignore it for a while and see what happens.

Author: American Cana(dad)


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