My trip to B.C.: Traveling and the sublime
By Taylor Charlebois, Staff Writer
My sleepy eyes are fuzzy, blinded by the street lights. Maybe I’m tired because I was surfing all day, or maybe it’s because I’ve been smoking marijuana cigarettes. Maybe it’s because I had one too many ciders on the beach between runs into the water. I expect a visit from the Sandman soon.
My friends and I make a pilgrimage every year to this wild and remote place in Tofino, Vancouver, B.C. to indulge ourselves in the beauty of nature and succumb to the mercy of the ocean’s waves.
It’s the middle of August, the air is rich with sea salt. A freshness fills my nostrils and invigorates my senses — a reminder that I am alive. As I breathe in and out, the smell brings me back to my childhood. The salty air activates neurons and receptors in my brain that is dripping with a palpable and rich feeling of nostalgia.
We’re just leaving the restaurant where we decided to have our dinner. We turn the corner to see our glorious Lincoln SUV, which I’m sure the rental company begrudgingly gave to a group of five boys. We all get into the chariot, tired and ready for sleep. Frey, whom we affectionately call Pretty Boy Frey, is the driver. He’s the only one who hasn’t consumed some sort of ‘poison’ over the day and is the responsible member of our party.
Seat belts click and we depart for our little lodge in Ucluelet, B.C.
The trip between Tofino to Ucluelet is a simple one, a few kilometers down a straight road with no lights and nothing but trees and rich vegetation. It’s eerie, yet beautiful. The night fills the forest with a calm, yet romantic darkness that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’m attracted to it, drawn to it. There’s a silence here that gives the sense that we are nothing but ghosts in this forest for a mere moment.
I think to myself…
I will be long dead and the trees that populate this vast expanse will continue to grow. There will be a time where my body stops working — maybe all at once, or maybe it’ll be gradual.
My breathing will cease and my heart will give out. As a result, my brain cells will die. I end. Brain activity ceases and there will be nothing left of me.
No memory, no more awareness. No more ego — I am gone. Everything I’ve ever done, everything I ever was, the laughing, the crying, the triumphs and the failures — gone.
Everything that is will continue without me. All the little things that make me up — the little microbes and the bacteria and all those billions of cells that make up my hair, my lips, my eyes — and everything else, will decompose.
I will continue to feed life, I will be broken apart — and I will become a part of the world.
I snap back out of my day dreaming, as Frey puts on one of our favorite Lana Del Rey songs, “Season of the Witch.” I’m sitting in the front passenger seat, the ‘moon’ window is open. The sea air continues to fill my nostrils.
The sky is a vast canvas of dark blues, bright lights and a deep darkness that my mind can’t wrap itself around. It’s beautiful to think that all of these lights and colors are coming from billions of light years away and traveling over incredible distances. We are seeing them here, in this moment.
The vastness of the universe engulfs my brain and I think: What are we to understand about this world and the things that populate it? Beyond that, what do we really know about ourselves?
Inside all of us is someone we do not know and someone we cannot know. What can we really know about someone else? What can we know about the world, beyond understanding things on its own terms? Beyond interpreting our own lives from an objective perspective. The only ultimate result of searching forever is finding nothing larger than everything, and this kind of nothing never goes away.
Tofino is an incredible place. My friends and I go every year, every year we get better at surfing and our bond grows stronger. But I’ll never forget this specific trip. This trip was when I finally settled my affair with mortality. As we pull up to our lodge, we all get out and make for our beds. Today was an amazing day.