Today I stumbled on this photograph of Canada's first woman prospector, Kathleen Rice, and was struck with that old familiar call to adventure. Rice was recently inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame for her discovery of Manitoba's first nickel deposits. Like my other hero, Amelia Earhart, she eschewed the security of a husband and family life, blazing her own trail in a male-dominated profession. I couldn't help but recall how I romantically once pictured myself living in some remote setting with a team of huskies and a shotgun for protection, and how far my actual life seems from that dream. Looking out the window of my office today at the gridlocked highway of large city, for a moment I felt I had failed.
Then I remembered a phone conversation I had a while back with my 85-year-old grandmother. Feeling lonesome and homesick, I told her how I often missed her and everyone back home, and how I was sorry for leaving them. She simply replied, "Don't feel guilty. Just do what you have to do."
What defines a pioneer? In my view it's someone who leaves behind what's safe and familiar in order to pursue their dreams. Seven years ago I left my home and family, moving to the city with the dream of making a feature film. I haven't realized that dream yet, but there is still time--it's not a race.
Unlike Ms. Rice, I had the good fortune of finding a partner to share my adventure with, and although we may not live in a cabin in the wilderness I like to think of myself as a bit of a pioneer after all. I'm sure that Kate Rice and Ameila Earhart had more than a few moments of regret in their loneliest hours anyway; one of them crash-landed somewhere in the South Pacific and the other died penniless in an old folks' home in Minnedosa, Manitoba. These pioneering women were not defined by having fulfilled their dreams, but rather by having pursued them. That is, I am convinced, an attainable goal for anyone, myself included.