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Spring Gillard
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Doggone Transitions

Over Christmas of 1987, I travelled to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with my then boyfriend. I dubbed it our break up holiday and had already picked my theme for the coming year: clean slate in ’88. I knew the relationship was over a few months before we left. I remember the moment I knew, we were huddled in lawn chairs in his beachfront yard on a summer Sunday morning, hung over again. I had a carton of chocolate milk beside me, my regular cure. I turned to him and said, “Don’t you want more than this?” He spread his arms, gesturing to the beautiful scene around us and said, “What more is there, man?”

It took a few months to completely unravel, and besides the trip was already booked and paid for, so off we went. Cabo was still a little fishing village back then, very few resorts. We stayed at one of the original three inns, the Mar de Cortez. He spent the holiday partying, I had my nose in a copy of Richard Bach’s Illusions. My search for something more had begun.

Recently, I found some notes in the photoalbum from that trip. I had intended to write a travel piece, but never got around to it. It was to be called Even the Dogs Smile in Cabo. The dogs were everywhere and happy to join in with whatever was going on, even if it was just sitting on the beach. The Rottweilers loved to chase the tourists into the water. While I was in Cabo, I slowed way down and slipped easily into the manana mindset. Like those dogs, I was joyful, content with the moment and wide open to whatever came next.

One day we rented bikes and rode up into the hills, accompanied by one of the local dogs. I stood on the edge of a cliff and spread my arms out wide, feeling the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and drinking in the spaciousness. I didn’t really have language yet for this experience, but I sensed I was in a place where anything was possible, both literally and figuratively. That trip marked a huge turning point in my life and indeed it was the end of a relationship, at least in that form. We are now very good friends. A few months later I moved to Winnipeg, for the second time, to begin what would be the final phase of my advertising career, at least in that form.

It is reassuring to look back on these big shifts, especially when you are on the brink of another, as I am now. While I may have more experience with cliff edges now, I am not exactly embracing the transition this time.

Illusions begins with a parable of these little creatures that live their lives clinging to the bottom of a river bed. One day, one of them decides to let go. All the other creatures plead with him not to. You’ll be dashed upon the rocks and killed, they scream. But the brave creature says he would rather be killed on the rocks than die of boredom stuck in river mud. So he lets go. And sure enough, he gets batted around pretty good by the waves, he crashes into some rocks too, but finally the current lifts him up and he’s carried out to sea.

Here’s hoping the bashing about part passes quickly this time. And that I find a dog or two along the way to keep me smiling.

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