I guess nothing really has changed, but it all seems so different. It is me that has changed.
Through large windows pattered with rain drops, I am looking across the dark, cold and wet suburban sprawl of this city were I came of age. I am insulated in this building, protected completely from the stinging elements outside. It is a symbol of this North American society, sheltered from the struggles of the world around it, looking through a distorted lens. Every time I come back to Canada the contrast becomes ever more stark, and the flaws become ever more apparent in this perfection that we aim to seek. I think of it as a sterile society, both literally and figuratively. Everything is clean and often quite uniform, and even when it appears random, there is usually some method behind it. Here one can go to the grocery store and buy some lettuce and not worry about washing it before eating; one can walk down the street at night without worrying about a desperate fellow pulling a knife. This is what we have striven for, this perfection, this utopia. But really it amounts to a sterility that leaves much to desire. It is a sterility that perfects our society to the detriment of our characters and of our ability to evolve as humans, and to the detriment of our worldly perceptions. Perhaps we are better off having our heads up and our eyes open more often, perhaps the problem is that we rely too often on this sterility, and it is what breeds that political and worldly indifference that has become characteristic of our society.
I try to be positive when I am here, it is my home after all, and it is a beautiful land with well intentioned people. But I can't ignore the reality of things. I am not a better person than anyone reading this, but living abroad for a long time has undoubtedly expanded my perceptions of this world. The depth of analysis of issues and events becomes heightened when one can compare them on an international scale. To look upon Canada from the outside, especially from the perspective of the poor global South is to see a country much different than the one that I was raised to believe existed. Coming home it has become so much more apparent how little the masses know about what is happening not only in the world around them, but within their own country. There is much talk here in Canada, but the reality is that our actions fail to meet up to our words, and until we change our way of living, the future seems bleak.
Coming back to Canada is starting to become a vacation for me, like returning to a five star resort, where everything is served on a platter. The cold has been difficult to deal with after living an often shirtless life over the last six months. I thought I would enjoy a taste of the winter, but when I got on a plane at the Equator, and arrived the next day to record low temperatures in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, the shock was certainly unappealing. The one thing I am enjoying the most is the silence. Complete silence is the sound of winter and it is something that I missed dearly. Never in coastal Ecuador was it possible to find such natural silence. In Ecuador I could lock myself in an office and hope that the sound of car horns and music would be kept out, but here I can walk through a forest in the cold, dead of winter and hear absolutely nothing but perhaps the calm howl of the wind.
Indeed it is good to be back to see family and friends, to be reminded of why I built bonds with the people that I know here in the first place. I'm not sure how long I'll remain here in Toronto, but the desire to keep moving never abates. After four years of living abroad I have only just pierced the globe South of the equator, and most of the world still remains to be discovered.