Learn­ing to slow down a lit­tle


When peo­ple ask me why I came to New­found­land, it’s dif­fi­cult to give them a short an­swer.

I nor­mally just say that I wanted to try some­thing dif­fer­ent.

Be­fore this week, I had lived my whole life in down­town Toronto. I en­joyed 23 years of crowded sub­way trains, weekly fes­ti­vals and Chinese food so de­li­cious, you can ac­tu­ally feel the MSG as it squeezes through your ar­ter­ies.

I know that I shouldn’t ad­mit it, but I liked Toronto. It doesn’t mat­ter where you come from or what you do, you al­ways be­long there. Of course, Toron­to­ni­ans may not wel­come you with open arms, but they ig­nore you with re­spect.

But I de­cided re­cently that I want to be a jour­nal­ist. Ear­lier this year I in­terned for a mag­a­zine in the city, and found that it was a glam­orous but ul­ti­mately an un­sub­stan­tial job. My am­bi­tions were a bit too old-fash­ioned.

Grass­roots jour­nal­ism

I wanted to write about town halls and fire sta­tions, about park main­te­nance and small crime — the sort of thing you want to talk about with your neigh­bor.

I wanted to ac­tu­ally re­port on the news and at this early point in my ca­reer I just couldn’t get the right kind of ex­pe­ri­ence in Toronto. In a city where all the com­mu­nity news­pa­pers are “al­ter­na­tive” and ev­ery­one un­der 40 has their own blog, there are sur­pris­ingly few out­lets for ba­sic com­mu­nity news.

So I started mak­ing in­quiries at small com­mu­nity news­pa­pers all over the coun­try. The Com­pass got back to me first.

I have to be hon­est. I didn’t give much thought to whether or not I ac­tu­ally wanted to move to New­found­land. I just wanted an in­tern­ship, and I didn’t care where it was.

Only af­ter I bought my plane tick­ets did I con­sider the re­al­i­ties of leav­ing ev­ery­one I love to spend the sum­mer on a damp north­ern is­land all by my­self.

City slicker

My friends in Toronto were all ex­tremely sup­port­ive of this idea. None of them had ever been to New­found­land, of course, but like most peo­ple liv­ing in the city they seemed to think of small-town liv­ing as be­ing pure and un­com­pli­cated — like a sham­poo, for your spirit.

If I had an in­tern­ship of­fer any­way, they said, why wouldn’t I take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity to live the small town life for a few months?

In their minds, I’d leave Toronto a strung-out city-slicker, twitch­ing from too many lat­tes. Three months later I’d re­turn a gra­cious east coaster, with a fond­ness for fid­dle mu­sic and blue­berry muffins. Ev­ery­thing in be­tween, they told me, would be fod­der for a for­mu­laic but hi­lar­i­ous “ fish-outof-wa­ter” CBC com­edy.

Even though I knew they were wrong, the idea wasn’t un­ap­peal­ing to me. Fid­dle mu­sic and muffins aside, I could prob­a­bly learn to slow down a lit­tle.

Diplo­mat­i­cally put, I am an as­sertive per­son. I use a lot of four letter words and my pa­tience is lim­ited. Some­times, I wish I was a lit­tle nicer. I don’t think mov­ing to New­found­land can change the kind of per­son I am, but I would like to pick up some nice habits.

For ex­am­ple, at the Tim Hor­tons in Car­bon­ear, no one seems to mind when I take the time to search in my purse for ex­act change. I get im­pa­tient with my­self when I take more than one minute at the Tim Hor­ton’s counter; could I ever be as good-na­tured as the per­son be­hind me, who may be in a hurry but re­frains from huff­ing while I fish out pen­nies from for­got­ten pock­ets? Could I ever be so ha­bit­u­ally un­selfish?

I don’t know, but af­ter spend­ing the last few weeks buy­ing my morn­ing dou­ble-dou­ble with nick­els, I’m in a bet­ter mood to try.

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