My ideal life and why I travel / by Jessica Lee



It is 6 am in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The sun is filtering through the window and except for a lonely car once in a while and the scattered background chirping of birds, all is still.

I just woke up from a dream where I lived on an island. I saw it so vividly in my mind. It was a tiny island not even a square km and it's main export is fish. The land is elevated quite a distance from the water below and there isn't a bridge to the bigger town. You have to take a ferry boat for five minutes, or row for ten minutes. There are about twenty residents on this island, a mix of young families, maybe two elderly couples, and me. We all live in colourful wooden houses and it never snows. I imagine it to be a lot like Moonrise Kingdom (2012).

I'm currently reading Richard Florida's Who's Your City (2008), where he makes a case that where one lives is the most important decision of one's life. It affects your earning potential, your choice of dating material and your general happiness.

After visiting a variety of towns and cities in the last year, I can see that where one comes from affects the person they are.

I come from Toronto, Ontario, and I'm extremely fortunate to be from such an established, metropolis of big opportunities and intellectuals. Because I was from Toronto, I had access to free health care, free public education and I was brought up in a society that encouraged pursuing self-fulfillment. On the professional development side, things are a lot easier for me compared to some of my peers who come from out of town because I'm still able to live at home (saving on rent). And after traveling to countries with undeveloped regions such as Indonesia, where most of the population is uneducated, I realize I'm afforded so many opportunities many people around the world don't have. Most people who live in third world countries never get to travel or experience another culture. They will probably spend their entire lives working service jobs making food or peddling goods. And because of how expensive flight tickets are compared to what they make, it will be difficult for them to save up enough for a ticket. And why would they want to throw themselves into a life of uncertainty abroad?

Still, though I come from a place of such opportunity where I can more or less easily obtain a job (because I'm educated remember?) and save up for things I want like travel, sometimes I feel I wasn't born in the right place.

I am a Torontotian with an islander's soul. My personality is more suited to warm climates and slow living. I feel like because I wasn't born in a surf town, a lot of surfing opportunity was lost in my younger years. Or perhaps I'm meant to be living in a small town in the outskirts of Italy, where I would own a bike with a basket and not much else. I would eat fresh bread and pasta all the time. On the other hand, I could definitely see myself living in a port town, in a tiny beach house a short walk from the dock where I would go sailing whenever I felt like it.

While I'm grateful for being born in a first-world country (thank you mom and dad), I don't feel that I am necessarily meant to stay or obligated to stay in the place I'm from. This is why I travel.

I want to find the optimal place to suit my personality and to fulfill my needs. I need a place where the citizens are happy people, it's easy to take up surfing every morning before work and the climate is warm. I haven't figured out where I want to live specifically, which is why I am constantly looking. I am trying to design my ideal life and it doesn't involve Canadian winters (I've lived through enough of those, thank you very much.)

Readers: Where is your ideal life located?