Editorial: The long route

Andru McCracken, Editor

by ANDRU MCCRACKEN, EDITOR

When I was a kid there was a great deal of pressure for kids to graduate high school with their peers. Kids that were not going to graduate on time were somehow less good than those of us that did. The consensus was they would live a poorer life.

It all made a lot of sense to me until I was a couple courses away from graduating university.

I was studying engineering. Going to university was a privilege and an adventure. Meeting new people, exploring new ideas, learning. At first, school was great: calculus, physics, linear algebra… I loved it. Extracurricular activities weren’t bad either. Discussing the classics with hot art students, international potlucks, hosting killer house parties, playing in a punk rock band, trips to Rutherford library… I was exploring the edges of the known universe.

But not everybody was enjoying it. The worst-off came from wealthy families. Living at home, spending nights studying old exams. They were motivated by terror of failure, fearful of the world. They wanted to climb back up their parent’s skirts and to replicate their parents home in suburbia.

I was gung-ho for new concepts, but less so for cramming. I was set to graduate a year and a half late. Part of it was due to a motorcycle trip to find the meaning of life (in Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina of course).

The meaning of life eluded me, and I only made it to the Baja, but what happened to my peers while I was away was devastating and it would literally change the course of my life.

I watched them disappear into the chasm that followed school.

Their schedules for the next 20 years were set. Cell phone design, programming subroutines, or developing test criteria to test testing machines. All for the modest income of an entry level engineer. And two weeks vacation.

They became tiny cogs in a giant machine. Those were the honour students. Average students ended up in remote camps.

So, I quit school.

Five years earlier it would have been unthinkable.

I didn’t have a plan or any idea what would be next.

I worked as a labourer. Connected with an itinerant uncle. Things came up.

It has been fun. It’s worked.

Caring for my daughter for the first year of her life was a luxury few others can enjoy and it’s something that a pension won’t buy in my old age.

I take no shame in luxuriating in the things I love to do.

My path was many things, but it was no shortcut. I’m pretty sure this is the long route.

I was delighted to learn that Megan Teering dropped out of high school on her adventures (See page 8). Few would have advised her to take the difficult path she chose. And yet her ambition lights her way. However far she goes, she will have arrived there on her own terms. Doesn’t her high school diploma somehow matter more because of how she earned it?

I was also delighted to learn about the Valemount Learning Centre’s Mike Johnson. His late discovery of who he was and his courage to follow what came next is inspiring.

I’m pretty sure this is the norm here in the mountains. Few of us are here for the money and certainty is a fiction.

Graduating high school, staying in the same line of work, finishing university, that’s one way to do it… there is another. It’s just a bit longer… but the views are phenomenal.

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