I lived in Calgary for under two years, a short time compared to the ten years I've lived in Toronto. And yet when I return here, the familiarity wells up from deep inside me. So much so, that it feels like some sort of a priori understanding of the place. And the muscle memory of reading its signs returns easily; I feel the Chinooks coming before the clouds fold themselves up like sails.
Yet, it would be a mistake to understand this feeling as belonging or love. I don't want to live in Calgary again. And if Dublin teaches me anything it's that knowing a place and feeling it deeply is not the same as living happily in it.
Toronto has never surrendered itself so easily to me. Even now I struggle to pry it open. It often feels like I do battle with two of its four seasons. That I need to ditch it regularly so I can return and trust I'm in the right place. But, simply, I love it. And fleeting as a deep sense of belonging sometimes is, when it comes to me it's the deepest, loveliest sense of home I've had.
I think, more generally, we sometimes mistake the things we're good at for things we love. There's an underlying assumption that being able to accomplish something must come from a deep sense of kinship with it. And I believe this is a particularly the case for generalists - those of us who are quick to learn something new and can become competent at something reasonably quick. But being good at something does not always mean you love doing it.
It can be easy to skate along doing jobs, living in places, building those relationships that come easily instead of discovering deeper objects of affection. And I sometimes envy those who simply could not do anything other than the one thing they love no matter how much it tortures them. I've realized this is a tension in me: I sometimes wrestle with ideas that I ought simply to stick at what I'm good at, those areas where I can succeed, and give up on what I really love.
And now I'm thinking about 2014 goals and I've decided to make a single sweeping resolution: To do what I love, not what I'm good at. To allow myself to indulge in being a mediocre writer, because writing is what I love. And being a hit-and-miss photographer, because whenever I open a canister of film, I inhale. Or being a sometimes-lonely Torontonian, because Toronto is the home that makes me happiest.