I had a dream a couple of months ago where I was standing at the edge of a lake. Quintessential Canadian scenery. Pine trees everywhere, the sun just glistening off the water. It absolutely took my breath away. I was pointing and marvelling and saying to all of my Aussie mates, “Look, look how beautiful it is!” It was then that I knew it was time to go home.

Fast forward to me riding home on VIARail last week. I was lightly sleeping during the early morning hours and the girl next to me tapped me on the knee and pointed out the window. Holy deja vu. The morning sun was swimming its light over a lake surrounded by Canadian conifers and my seatmate was adoring it saying, “Look! Look how beautiful that is! Sorry, but I couldn’t let you sleep through that…” Thank you, no worries, I appreciate it. It was just like I’d seen in my dream. Incroyable. Tres magnifique. Then a feeling came over me, engulfed me really, of absolute joy, love and affection for Canada and, at that precise moment, its unique and stunning landscapes.

I had developed a major respect for Aussies and how they cohabitated with all of their crazy, poisonous spiders and snakes. They don’t even seem to acknowledge how brave they are to be effortlessly sharing space with these creepy, crawly critters. “Hey, huge, hairy spider in my bedroom: you do your thing, and I’ll do mine, cool?” They just learn to coexist and it’s beautiful. It totally shapes their identity, makes them tough as nails in their own special way.

Canadians, on the other hand, we’ve got our own set of dangers and endurances to toughen us up. It dawned on me as I soaked up the shiny, morning lake light that we’ve got 4 true seasons here, and one of them is a real, cold ass freakin’ winter! Transplant an unsuspecting Islander to my living room in Byron Bay and ask them to live with lizards, cockroaches and monstrous arachnids and they might flip their lid. Alternatively, the morning I woke up and it was a recordbreaking 2 degrees in Melbourne (!!!HA!!!) and Aussies were blowing their loads, shivering like a bunch of wussies, I had a good hearty (proud) chuckle to myself; 2 degrees is a hard earned spring day, you wimps.

It just goes to show we’ve all got our hardships that quickly become second nature to endure, the sand that makes our pearls, if you will. I think it’s an invaluable exercise to supplant yourself into someone else’s shoes every now and then to garner some sympathy for what makes them tick.

That’s another thing that I try to keep fresh in my daily thoughts, “You know, we’re all just doing the best with what we’ve got.” It helps me be less judgemental, more understanding, and forgiving. Snakes, stingers, house-high hills of snow and frozen nose hairs for months on end, hey, we’ve all got our shit to contend with and who’s to say how we’d fair in someone else’s position.