A story is a gift – best to open it slowly, careful not to peel away the layers too quickly, often finding something you may not have realized you needed. That is what happens when we share our story – we offer others insight into our world and we give permission to each other to find common threads and obstacles.
My dad and I have been going on a Father-Daughter Road Trip since I was 11. Every year, usually in the summer, we hop in the car and we drive. We drive North or we drive East, we drive over paved roads and gravel roads. We have flown in sea planes and small planes. We have kayaked, hiked, golfed, and white water rafted. We have travelled more kilometres than I can even count, and on every trip we offer each other the gift of story.
Growing up, people would ask me what my dad does. “Um…he’s an entrepreneur, I think. Yes, definitely an entrepreneur!” I would say. When kids would push back, asking exactly what that meant, I would stare them in the eye and with great pride say, “He gets to wear jeans every day and doesn’t have a boss!”
After our first road trip, I started to understand that what my dad did wasn’t a job title, it was a series of events that would lead him to an opportunity. Understanding what our parents do for a living can be a great challenge when we are young, especially when the job falls outside the traditional categories. We often believe we need to parcel things up in pretty little packages; a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher – we assume we know what each of those professions entails. But an entrepreneur? You don’t often see children’s books following the adventures of a Venture Capitalist! Funnily enough, now that I fall outside the traditional employment sphere, it has been amazing listening to others describe what I do for a living, often craving a title or concrete definition.
What we do for a living is not about a job title or an elevator pitch – it is about the everyday stories we collect and encounter. It’s about the people whose lives we affect, and it’s about what we hold onto when we are off the clock. When my dad and I started doing our annual road trips, it started as a way for a father and a daughter to bond. What ended up happening was so much more powerful – our stories started to weave together, and we got to see each other in a whole new light.
As far back as I can remember, my dad would tell me how he started his career with my mom – how the two of them moved around the world setting up different businesses, usually with ideas that were ahead of their time. Looking back now, every year I would gain new insight into my dad’s world, listening to his memories and the lessons he learned. His stories inspired me, and they led me onto my own entrepreneurial journey.
Last week’s trip was no exception.
This year, we decided to drive to Desolation Sound. I didn’t know much about Desolation Sound, only that it sounded far away and remote. Little did I know that it would be just far enough away that it would actually bring us closer to home. Waiting for the second ferry in Earls Cove, my dad ran into a neighbour named Garth Lawrence. Garth and my dad started chatting, and when I told Garth what I did for a living he gave me my first gift of the trip – he told me to read his son’s book. He said that his son, Grant Lawrence, wrote all about Desolation Sound after collecting dozens of stories from his own childhood as well as myths and folklore from the area.
When I got on the ferry, I re-read an email my friend Robyn Spencer sent me with recommendations on what to do in Powell River only to realize she suggested I read the same book “Adventures in Solitude” by Grant Lawrence. This was our first taste of synchronicity. When we arrived at Desolation Resort, we dropped off our bags and headed into Lund to grab a beer and some dinner. We found ourselves at The Boardwalk Restaurant, which once went by the name Sunset Restaurant at The End of the World. As the sun set in the distance it felt like we were on the cusp of something big, that point where the end becomes the beginning all over again.
As we do on our trips, we started talking with a man that sat next to us. He told us that he had recently been to his daughter’s wedding after not speaking with her much over the years. When he heard about our commitment to a road trip every year together, I think it inspired him to reconnect with his daughter. Our story now became a gift for someone else. We ended the evening at the Laughing Oyster restaurant, drinking port on the patio as the owner, Dave, serenaded us with old folk tunes beneath the moon light and meteors. His story, along with that of our waitress, warmed us on a cool summer evening.
The next day, we had a 6 hour kayak planned, and upon meeting Jordanne, our guide for the day, we told her about the Grant Lawrence connection and she just about fell over in her kayak! She knew about his book and used his stories as inspiration when she talked about the history of the region. We were invited to drop in on Garth for lunch and when we pulled our kayaks up to the giant rocks, we could feel the story deepening. As we sat at the picnic table overlooking islands that were once First Nations burial grounds and land that once housed homesteaders in the 20s and draft dodging hippies in the 70s, I felt a deep connection to this place. My story was now being woven into the fabric of the land. Garth gave us a copy of Grant’s book and that evening dad and I both started reading it, amazed at the many personal connections we now had to the people and landscape of Desolation Sound.
The trip brought more than just a vacation between father and daughter – it was a true exercise in storytelling. We shared our stories and by that very act invited new stories in. We came home full, from the people we met and the stories they shared with us. It also reminded me that sometimes we need to venture into the great wide open, unsure of what stories lurk in the distance. Grant prefaces his book with this quote, and I thought it fitting to leave you with this thought…