I’m leaving you again. And I hate it. Everytime I’ve had to leave you for a significant portion of time, I hated it.
There are many beautiful places in the world. Strange nooks and famous walkways that have amazing stories. They’re beautiful to visit. But what I’ve longed for is home. Being away is not the same. It feels like the oxygen is being depleted from me with every breath that isn’t on the island. I’m missing another joke my friends made over brunch or memory my family are making without me. I know time is passing. I see it on the faces of the people I love. But what remains the same is that feeling that being in Newfoundland gives you the moment you step off the plane. That no matter who you are, no matter what part of the earth you’ve known, the language you’ve spoken or the things you’ve seen, you are home.
I came back to you weary of the world and people. Weary of cynicism, bullshit and pretention. A world that speaks in a weird jargon I don’t understand. It leaves me longing for people who are kind and plain-spoken. Working as a physician after working in Newfoundland is tough; it’s easy to help people who are kind, who show courage and humour through suffering. It’s tougher to help when people seem indifferent by comparison. Indifference is what kills the soul of the world. Maybe that’s why I love being home. The province and the people in it have heart; they’re an incredibly open and generous people. They care about family, and friendship, about their word and their work. They know the secret to living is to steal as much happiness from life as you can before you pass.
It’s strange to live in this time of history, where the world seems awash with hate and intolerance. I never knew about that growing up. I had a childhood of happiness and support, where my teachers, neighbours and friends made our community brilliant in ways I couldn’t appreciate. I learned about racism at the age of 12. And you know where I learned about it from? Television.
Now, after many years, I know a bit more about the edges of life, the places where people sometimes get cut. It’s in the dangerous places like love, hate, pain and ignorance. And even though I sometimes bled in Newfoundland, unlike every other place it did its best to soothe my injury. It did its best to love me the way I loved it, and that’s something the rest of the world should envy.
The islands’ call affects people from far and wide. My friends J and M, are incredible South African born physicians, who left warm beaches and booming practices for St. John’s four years ago and continue to live here. I always tell the story of how I went to visit them for lunch when they first moved here, and how M opened the door a crack, with the chain still on, peering around it even though it was the middle of the day. I had never seen someone open a door like that. “I’m not here to murder ya!” I joked, and we laughed. But later I realized stupidly that they of course had lived through apartheid and seen violent crime daily as physicians. Peace of mind is a highly underrated commodity and worth the weather a thousand times.
There many critical challenges now in Newfoundland. But I’m not one of the people to prescribe answers. To be honest I try to only write about things I know, which seems to be a startling rarity these days. But what I will say is that I think the way forward is us together, with the things that make Newfoundland so brilliant: family, friends, entrepreneurship and music. But most importantly food. Delicious, glorious, local food.
Whatever your day contains, I hope you get a chance to relax and live the simple things deeply. Because you who get to live in Newfoundland are blessed.