It’s over. No longer will I be traversing Canada’s vast and diverse landscape with thousands of strangers, all sharing the same wanderlust and longing for self-discovery and growth. No longer will I be waking up in a new city every morning, next to friends I’ve known for weeks at most, though it feels like it’s been years. As the trains reach the stations and we say our goodbyes, is this really the end of our journey? Will this experience of a lifetime become a distant memory that we will one day fondly reminisce about with our children? Or will the lessons we’ve learned and the bonds we’ve made continue to invigorate us and mold us into the people we truly wish to become?
If there is one thing I have realized during this trip, it is that before I left I was merely a shell of myself. On and off the train this month I have been more outgoing, friendly, confident, energetic, and ultimately happier. You might say it’s just an adventure high, or reveling in the summer camp vibe of the train. Speaking for myself (and the other 4,000 Canada 150 Youth Pass holders) you would be wrong. This is no temporary bout of elation; this is our minds telling us we’re doing something right. This is how we should be living our lives. Not by waiting around for the excitement to finally find us, but by getting up every day and chasing it. Why waste your time looking for stairs to a fountain of happiness when all it takes is a leap?
When someone asks if this trip has changed me, I’ll probably say no. Rather, it has done something better: it has found me. I encourage everyone to try and do the same. Do something that makes you happy and makes you better, whether it’s traveling, making music, or helping others. In the end, it’s these moments of happiness that will define you. For me, summiting a peak in Squamish and realizing for the first time exactly why I’m proud to be Canadian will stick with me. So will belting out Twist and Shout almost in key on the train in front of 30 strangers even though I can’t sing. These memories stick out to me, and I’ll hold onto them forever because in these moments the overwhelming emotion I felt was happiness.
To speak directly to my fellow pass holders: I urge you not to cling to this journey as a distant memory, a far-flung version of your reality. Instead, take hold of what you’ve learned about yourself and use it to live your life to the fullest.
So is this odyssey of sorts over? I suppose it depends who you ask. But for me, it’s only just begun.
If you’d like to relive my journey, you can follow me on Instagram @riley.h.moore. You can also use the official hashtag #ViaCanada150 to share your own journey and see others’, To all the friends I’ve made, as well as VIA Rail for giving us this opportunity, thank you so much for making this experience unforgettable. I will cherish it forever.