We all dream of drop­ping ev­ery­thing to pur­sue our pas­sions. Th­ese Toron­to­ni­ans ac­tu­ally did. Find out why they think you should too.

Richmond Hill Post - - Contents -

Meet eight Toron­to­ni­ans who gave up ev­ery­thing to pur­sue their pas­sions

Hip­pie van man on his 16-coun­try road trip Like many other mil­len­ni­als, Aaron Neil­son-Bel­man went back­pack­ing in south­east Asia. When he came home, he was al­ready ea­ger for his next ad­ven­ture. He had re­cently bought a VW van and had an artist paint a hip­pie-in­spired mu­ral across it, so he de­cided a road trip was in or­der. At that point he had been free­lanc­ing as a web­site de­vel­oper and pho­tog­ra­pher and de­cided to take his gig on the road. He drove out of Toronto in Au­gust 2013, reached Buenos Aires by De­cem­ber 2014. “Driv­ing in Peru was such a wild ad­ven­ture with the dirt roads on the side of a cliff with a huge drop,” he says. “You meet great peo­ple ev­ery­where you go, that was one of the best parts too, break­ing down cul­tural bar­ri­ers and stuff.” Cur­rently, the van is un­der­go­ing renos, get­ting ready for the next big trip. With a re­built en­gine and cus­tom in­te­ri­ors, it’s a lit­tle more liv­able. Liv­ing in your van is the #van­life trend af­ter all. He’s also get­ting a new mu­ral painted. “One idea I’m toy­ing with is to drive up to the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries.” Neil­son-Bel­man rec­om­mends drop­ping ev­ery­thing to travel: “There is no bet­ter way to learn about your­self or the world we live in. You trade in your mis­con­cep­tions gen­er­ated

by movies, the me­dia and other third-party sources, for price­less first-hand ex­pe­ri­ences.” —

Nikki Gill

The sky­div­ing grandpa Elly Gotz, a Holo­caust sur­vivor, dreamed of be­com­ing a pilot be­fore the war. Af­ter liv­ing in Nor­way and South Africa, Gotz and his wife, Esme, came to our fair coun­try in 1964. “I love Canada. I’m a great Cana­dian pa­triot. I learned here how to fly an air­plane. I ful­filled my dream of be­ing a pilot,” he says. Last July, the day af­ter Canada cel­e­brated its 150th birth­day, Gotz took his dreams of fly­ing to the next level. He de­cided to go sky­div­ing for the first time at the age of 89. “I wore a big sign that said Canada 150,” he says. “The mo­ment you jump out of the air­plane into the cold air at 13,000 feet, your heart stops for a minute, but it re­sumes.” This March, Gotz will turn 90, and he and his wife will cel­e­brate their 60th wed­ding an­niver­sary. The dar­ing Toron­to­nian will also be re­leas­ing a mem­oir in the near fu­ture. When it comes to jump­ing out of planes, this grandpa says it’s per­fect for peo­ple “who have that spe­cial love of space, of fly­ing, of be­ing in an air­craft.” —

Macken­zie Pat­ter­son

The colour-blind finance pro turned artist De­spite the fact that he’s colour-blind, North York artist An­thony Ric­cia­rdi has had a life­long love of paint­ing. Yet in­stead of chas­ing his dream, he chose a sta­ble ca­reer in finance. A gig at a real es­tate in­vest­ment fund down­town paid the bills, but he al­ways found time for paint­ing. “I con­sid­ered my­self a full-time artist be­cause the hours I was putting in paint­ing were al­most the ex­act same I was putting in at my job,” he says. Then last Fe­bru­ary, the artist re­ceived an of­fer to paint a mu­ral in New York City.

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