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Jasper & The Subject of Chance

2010 October 14
by shana

Jasper National Park

As had already happened a few times on this trip so far, I had considered stopping at a campground before I reached the town of Jasper. The Wapiti campground had wedged itself in my mind however, and before I knew I had bypassed the other campgrounds and was turning off the highway in that direction.

I had asked for a site with electric because I needed to get some work done, but the woman at the campground kiosk told me that it was basically a parking lot. Hmmmm… “Are there any good places in town to sit down with a laptop?” She replied that there were and I said I would go without electric then.

She scanned her reservation board and said she was going to give me one of her favorite sites. She said she was surprised that there were even any of these sites left this time of day, but I was in luck. There was a site available next to the river, but she said that she liked the sites by the creek better and was going to put me there.

I found my spot and got settled in easily. Level. Hmmmm, maybe I should consider staying an extra day. I was also right across the road from the bathroom. It is funny, little things like this, because when I first heard someone say they would put me near the bathroom like they were doing me a favor, I thought… what was the big deal? But as time went on, I realized that I did appreciate being next to the bathroom. After all, we are creatures of comfort and convenience.

During a jaunt into the town of Jasper, I grabbed a bite and got online quickly, then Koj and I strolled around town. We came across an art gallery in an old fire hall. I situated Koji at the picnic table outside then wandered in to take a peek. It is always interesting to see what art is happening in different places.

Jasper Art Gallery

On my way back to camp for the night, I stopped at the kiosk and arranged to stay an additional night. There were things I wanted to see around the area before I left, and it would just be easier if I stayed another night. After all, I wanted to take advantage of being there since I didn’t know whether I would ever have the opportunity again.

Now I am not sure yet what my beliefs are for concrete sure on subjects like coincidence vs. purpose, but I do find it interesting how people going different directions at different speeds with different destinations can find themselves momentarily sharing the same space and time. How one person heading South can be told that there are no river sites left and end up by the creek. And later, the other heading North is told that there are river sights but ends up next to the creek anyway, can end up just a couple camp sites from each other.

Jasper National Park
When Koji and I got back to camp, we went for a long walk. I noticed the other campers. Most of them had RVs or camper trailers, and only a few had tents. Most of the campers were couples, some young while others might be retirees. A few groups of friends and/or couples, and of course, there were families with kids.

As I walked, an overwhelming urge to play cards came over me. I am not sure why and couldn’t explain, but it was strong. I realized I might have to figure out a way to socialize while on this trip on a deeper level than campground and store transactions and quick bonding of dog lovers. I was hesitant to approach people. It wasn’t necessarily because we are taught our whole childhood not to talk to strangers. And not because, as I was leaving for this trip, people kept asking if I was scared to travel alone. But, in this recreational environment I was worried more about barging in on the vacations of others, so I had mostly kept to myself. Occasionally I would end up in some small talk for a brief minute or two, but I was longing for something with more substance than that.

I noticed a couple other people who looked like they might be traveling by themselves, but thought maybe they wouldn’t want their solitude interrupted anymore than a family on vacation, so I headed back to my camp. I couldn’t shake the feeling however, and I found myself walking a couple camp sights down the road and awkwardly striking up conversation with the guy who was sitting in front of a small fire.

I say awkwardly, because although I can almost always have a conversation with almost anyone who is interested having one, I am not very good at initiating them. I am not good at coming up with a good reason to approach someone unless I have a very legitimate reason or purpose. This is an art that I have not yet mastered, and find myself admiring in people who can do it with such ease and sincerity.

Although I sensed he wasn’t that interested in company initially, I also couldn’t shake the urge to continue talking to him for a bit longer. I never suggested playing cards, but we ended up having a good conversation. We talked about life, expectations, circumstances, the roles we play in life and relationships, family, and our interpretations of those things. We talked about finding peace in the chaos of our lives, sacrifice, and the pursuit of dreams. And after awhile we said it was nice to meet each other, and Koj and I headed back to our camp.

Now, I realize that believing everything happens for a reason conflicts with the idea of chance and coincidence, and that even if everything happens for a reason that sometimes, well, it just isn’t important for us to know what that reason is. And maybe it is easier for us to dismiss those things as chance or coincidence if a reason isn’t readily available to us.

But then, maybe things that appear to be coincidences are a signal for us to pay attention.

I don’t really know, and I guess ultimately it is not important for me to. What I do know is that life fascinates me. These “coincidences,” or whatever they are, fascinate me. Such as the conversations we have because of “chance” meetings that plant seeds that can, even if only in a small way, change your life from that point on. Conversations that make you consider things you hadn’t previously considered, or that create an understanding that was previously unavailable to you, and that help you sort out the things that are conflicting in your own mind.

So, if you happen to read this, stranger I met in passing, thank you for allowing me to interrupt your solitude, and thank you for the conversation. It was a pleasure to meet you and I wish you all the best.

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. Linda Ferdinand (from Polson & Lake Mary Ronan State ParK) permalink
    October 19, 2010

    Shana – Your pictures are great. I hope all is well with you and Koj.

    • shana permalink*
      October 19, 2010

      Thanks Linda – great to hear from you!

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