One humid evening, a boy went to war…

Traveling is my favourite release from reality. You can wear a façade like it’s your new best friend and break it down in ways no friend or foe at home would believe. You can become closer to your true self, using the mask to unveil a truth you were afraid of before. When I travel, I experience the lie and the truth, and back and forth I go. I always find myself again.

One humid evening in the Dominican Republic, I met a boy from the East Coast of Canada. He seemed ordinary, his voice fading into the roar of his friends’ laughter and stories. When I turned to talk to him, I found out that his tribulation and his passions were so much more intense than his buzzed friends who held no cares in the world.

I started with the most basic of questions, one of which was about his future plans. This boy had a fire in his eyes when he spoke about his future, a sort of resolution in which he knew his path as if it were laid out in front of his feet, clear and concise. Life is usually unpredictable, but he exhaled confidence in every dream. The boy was an avid hockey player, but he severed himself from the dream he once had to play professionally, and told me that his friends who thought they would make it were fools.  He knew that his footprint was not guided by an ice skate, and so he saw himself perhaps teaching hockey one day, if only to hold on to nostalgia.

For now, he looked towards the ominous task of paying for college.  As the next words escaped from his lips, he oozed positivity and the fear in decision making fell away right then and there. It was just between him and the truth now. He told me that he decided to join the army. I wanted to cry for him. Was he sealing his fate here? I had a million questions, and yet could utter not one single sound. All I could do was listen as he explained to me in impeccable detail how his dreams moulded his future, his fate. A boy who played hockey would melt into a man designed for violence. Sure, army doesn’t necessarily equal killing. But the innocence would soon be gone.

I asked him if he realized that life would never be the same. He smiled- he didn’t want it to be.

He talked about fate and destiny. There was a secret passion that he held onto, and he told me he wasn’t sure how to explain. He had never been to New Zealand before, but he could picture himself being happy there. He would be a farmer, and live with his family off of the land they tended. Perhaps he had seen it once in a movie? Captivated, he placed his heart in the hands of snowy mountain tops.  That was enough for him. The pure confidence in which he spoke these ideas made me think that fate might grant him his wish. With a kiss of determination, I felt this boy seal his dreams.

Who’s to say it won’t happen this way?