Disruptions With Purpose

On Adventure, Living Intentionally & Following Our Intuition with Alex Savatti

August 02, 2021 Alex Savatti Season 1 Episode 12
Disruptions With Purpose
On Adventure, Living Intentionally & Following Our Intuition with Alex Savatti
Show Notes Transcript

“I've always loved the definition of adventure as a journey, with an uncertain outcome. And it's it's very much that, like, there is excitement and possibility and room to create. And there is this incredible void and grief and sadness and loss that I think you you need to have them together." - Alex

In today’s conversation we speak with outdoor adventure guide, canoe builder and entrepreneur Alex Savatti.  Alex is the co-owner of an transformative outdoor adventure company located in Ontario, Canada called The Trip Shed

We speak about the perceived risk of following your heart's desire, of stepping outside of our regular rhythm and standing in the often uncomfortable liminal space that these journeys take.

We explore what living an intentional life looks like and the ups and downs that come with stepping outside of our cultural worldview to get into alignment with what’s calling us.  We talk about how powerful, yet challenging,  it is to listen to our intuition as it often only speaks as a whisper.  

In this episode, we talk about:

The willingness and 'risk' to loose sight of the shore in search of what's calling us and how uncomfortable this space can be but how imperative it is for following our soul's longing.
Intuition: It usually only speaks as a whisper and if we're willing to listen and follow its guide, the life we long for is on the other side.
Risk: What are we really risking when we follow the path towards our calling
Gratitude: How being grateful for the little small things in life allows for the bigger things to emerge.

Effortless Uncover What's Calling You:

You have dreams for yourself and an ambition for your life. You’re here to create influence, impact, and change.

And if you're like many, you may be stuck  and spinning by the question "What Is My Purpose?"

Finally reveal what’s important to you so that you can begin living the life you’re meant to be living without needing to know your purpose.

Asking ‘what is my purpose’ is one of the most frustrating questions you can ask yourself when you’re longing for a life rich with meaning, creativity and happiness. 

The free meditation below is specifically designed for people who are unclear, spinning, and stuck by the question ‘what am I here to do?'.

Grab Your Free Actionable Meditation

Become A Guest:

Do you have a suggestion for a Disruptor your know (it may be you!) who would be a great guest on the Disruptions With Purpose podcast?   Submit a suggestion.


About Alex

Alex Savatti, self-proclaimed King of the Dirt, is a crossbreed of a life spent loving people and the outdoors.  His path has led him and his brother, Aaron, to creating The Trip Shed, an experience-first outdoor adventure company. 

Ami: Hi, Alex. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Alex: Hi, Ami. It's a pleasure.

Ami: So I want to start by asking you, what does the term disruption mean to you?

Alex: The first word that comes to mind is a rupture, like breaking apart? Yeah, disruption is on the rupture and that is like taking what you know and what has been in place for a while and dismantling it. It's a rip in the fabric.

Ami: Like ripping the fabric of what?

Alex: Oh, I guess it depends on the fabric. What comes to mind is the structures of everyday life that we find ourselves in, we kind of wake up one day and like, "What the hell, how did I land here?", and the disruption is a conscious choice to break it apart with the rip that fabric open.

Ami: Like I said, like conscious, can we unpack that a little bit like a conscious choice to break something apart versus being unconscious?

Alex: Yeah, I think you have to choose it, right? In my mind, it comes at a point where the fabric is no longer holding you in a way that you want it to and you recognize that and I think like once you see it, you need to, yeah. There's something around like when you recognize that you're in a spot that isn't working for you anymore, then it's the choice to reboot and just if you don't see it, then you don't know.

Ami: Right. So it's kind of like a journey, it's like recognizing that there's something. First of all, it's like recognizing. It's like getting that there's actually something that's going on and you have a choice or autonomy or a say in the matter and then taking the steps to actually change that course that you were on or where you're going. So, can you give me an example of that?

Alex: Yeah, I think it's where I'm at in my life right now like the fabric has just been torn in many ways. You know, I've just in the past couple of months left a job that I've been at for four or five years now that was like a really safe, loving space that I really enjoyed and really loved and I've been building this business now for three seasons, and the calling was to step into that in a full-time way that allowed me to create space for me to actually dive into it, in a way that I could support myself and just like try it on as an experiment and see, "Okay, like, can I actually make this work?", and in doing that, after a lockdown, the outdoor school where I worked was shut down anyway. So I had space and through a series of just kind of unexpected events, I found myself apprenticing for a new builder on the site as well that has been calling me to learn this craft and it was so outside of the fabric that I didn't even think of it ever as an option, and that now appears and there's sort of this, again, the conscious choice that, the safety net that I was in for so long, as much as I loved it and I knew it and I was good at it and I was loved there, there was this other thing calling to go explore and leaving that has been uncomfortable and beautiful and full and messy and alive and quiet. I think that's part of the thing, too, with this disruption, as you start to hear a level of noise in certain areas of your life, that whenever you devote attention to. My experience was there was just the static or this chatter in my head and I've come to learn that that is an indicator that something is out of alignment there. In my life right now, there is a lot of quiet and there is a lot of unknown and I think those two can go somewhat hand-in-hand together.

Ami: Yeah, it's so interesting. You talk about the disruption being a place, a kind of chaos like it's kind of a little bit chaotic when you actually cut the fabric that you're referring to. It can sometimes be a little bit uncomfortable for a while and it's not always comfortable. I noticed for myself that whenever I make a big decision to do something where I have to lose sight of the shore for a little bit, I have to get on the boat and lose sight of the shore and I'm not exactly sure. I have a compass and I have a direction I'm going to, but getting through the ocean sometimes can be really scary and it's that trusting that things are going to be okay on the other side. This just in saying that, I also recognize that not everybody has the opportunity to be able to lose sight of the shore, you know, we're incredibly privileged to be able to jump off of a cliff sometimes and to be able to do things that sometimes feel really uncomfortable, you know? So I'm going to go on a little tangent here because what you're talking about was so great because I think for me when I make decisions like that and I make big decisions, like, "Do I quit this job to do something that is calling me?", and I have no idea if it's going to work or to go on a trip.

Ami: And I have no idea if I'm going to get to the end. I always ask myself the question like, "What is the worst thing that's going to happen? Like in the end, what is the absolute worst thing that's going to happen?". I've spoken about this on this show before. It's like, "Can I accept that risk? Like, can I accept the risk of that?", and because I am such a privileged person, it's like the biggest risk that I'm going to take is, I'm going to live back with my mom and I'm like almost 40 years old and me, my two children and my husband are going to live with my mom and is that you know, is that a risk that I'm willing to take? Most often it's like, yeah, I could handle that for a very short amount of time.

Alex: Yeah. I love what you said about chaos. You worked in farming for a bit, if I'm not mistaken, there's this idea of another farmer that toured with me, of biodynamics stirring where you're creating a concoction and apparently how it works, I haven't done it, but you stir one way, one way, one way and then you stop. You throw some stuff into the mix and you stir the other way and in that other way stirring, there is this period of chaos where things are being ripped apart and fused and ripped apart and fused and then eventually, after some time, the new rhythm is greater, that something new has been created inside of that new direction of stirring. He offered that to me when I was in a major period of chaos earlier this year.

Ami: Who's he? Okay, a farmer. Got it.

Alex: Yeah, brilliant farmer. He offered this to me and it was kind of just gave a framework to like when you've been doing the same thing and inside of the same rhythm for so long and all of a sudden you break it, there is supposed to be a period of chaos because it's inside of where these new pathways and formations are created that won't happen inside of a regular rhythm. And so, yeah, you're right, there is a certain level of luxury that we have to be able to not have to worry about where I'm going to get my next meal and whether or not the water coming out of the tap is clean or not. That I have the capacity to say, "You know what, I'm going to go try and build canoes for a while or like guide canoe trips in my business and feed my life through adventure". How many people get to say that? And that's a real gift that I have in my life right now and it doesn't take away from the fact that it's scary as shit, and I have no idea what's going to happen. I probably haven't even assessed all the risks, appreciate that framework, that question, because like the risks here, who knows? We'll find out if we hit that wall at some point.

Ami: Totally. So, I'm hearing like you're kind of in the middle of the ocean right now.

Alex: Yeah and I don't really know. You know, what? I can't see the shoreline. Absolutely. It's like that and work and relationships, and the same thing, like, you know, coming out of a long-term relationship and that feeling of like, it fucking sucks sometimes in the uncertainty.

Ami: Right, just pausing here. Roma, can you just turn your mic? Actually, just yeah, keep going. I'm sorry.

Alex: Yeah. I think there's like a beauty in the fullness of it all, like in leaving a relationship and completing the relationships with work and with romantic partners and friends. On one hand, this curiosity, an unknown and a certain degree of adventure in that. I've always loved the definition of adventure as a journey, with an uncertain outcome and it's very much that, there is excitement and possibility and room to create. There is this incredible void and grief and sadness and loss that I think you need to have both together and that's it's all about the full show of being a human being, that you don't get one without the other and it sucks and it's beautiful and I feel grateful to be able to, I guess, have the capacity and have the opportunity to feel both of those realms and to be in them right now.

Ami: I like what you're talking about right now, like stepping outside of something of a life that you had or a job that you had, a relationship that you had, in order to get closer to something that's calling you and what's calling you.

Alex: Now, that's a great question.

Ami: I'm just curious, what's calling you to leave that world that you had that was safe and content, but sounds like it might have been not necessarily lighting you up or something that didn't really excite you so much or maybe did excite you, but you just were ready for something new and you were willing to get onto the boat, lose sight of the shore? And what were you willing to lose sight of the shore for? Like, what is it that set your sails? What are you creating right now?

Alex: Right now, I'm creating a life in which every component of it has me operating in a way that I feel most alive. And for me, I think that's serving as a guide. I think that there's a big purpose in my life to teach through story and to do that outside and it's interesting, as I'm saying, that I'm getting that and recognizing that, you can do that anywhere and that isn't incompatible with that safe life that I had in the life that had a vision. But as we talked about earlier that, sometimes there's just this quiet voice inside of you that is like beneath all the noise and chatter that is pulling you and I think that for me is what kind of pulled me was this deep, knowing that there is something. This sort of ethereal, unknown, perpetual, something that seems to call us every now and again in our lives. For me right now, it's to create a life in a business that is intertwined and that has me doing the thing that I love most. That gives me the freedom to create whatever I want to create, to be in a space where I can actually build something of my own volition that has no constraints on it outside of what I can imagine. So in the canoe tripping world, having been a guide for 12 years now, doing this is my business and kind of shifting the way canoe trips typically operate, using them as a teaching space. Yeah, there's a freedom to, I guess, without seeing the shoreline to bring it back to that, there is a freedom to kind of let the boat paddle wherever it wants to and to see what's there and then now having the opportunity to actually build canoes. I think that's a pretty perfectly fitting So.

Ami: So your medium to get to freedom, what I'm hearing underneath all of it, is like this is like a deep calling to have freedom, to be able to live life on your terms and to be able to be the guide of your own life? And the medium that you're using for that is taking people out into the wilderness, taking them on experiences and also building boats, like building canoes, like that's the medium you have right now that you've chosen to kind of get you to closer to what's really important to you, like what lies at the very foundation of what lights up? Alex, you know, as you're talking, I started thinking about like, yeah, this is the work that I really care about that's like at the bottom of, what I'm here to do and what I've been willing to leave the shore for. I really, really care deeply about people living their life, like with that same thing with like listening to that intuition and about helping people uncover what the intuition is because the thing about intuition that is so annoying is that it's always a whisper and logic, which is a form of fear, will all typically for me and my expertise will come in and crush that intuition so fast. And so we're living in this life where we're like, we're not happy, we're not necessarily lit up or we are, we're content, we know there's something more. It's like that's the thing I hear most often from people. It's like I know there's something more for me. I can't tell you exactly what it is and it's because of that intuition, we're not listening to it. It's always, and that's why I always talk so often, but you have to get still and go inwards and that for me is so annoying because I hate sitting still so much. It's much work, but sitting in that stillness really allows the intuition to get stronger and then it gives us the opportunity and the choice to be able to listen to it or not.

Alex: Yeah, it's kind of, and I know I've brought this word up before, but this idea of liberation is like and I think that's where I'm kind of playing with right now, is taking the structures that have existed inside. I've been in school, just completed my master's program in December and was inside of that world for so long and with working, too, and whatever. And I think disruption is very much like breaking that structure that you've been inside of, to liberate yourself from whatever constraints that there were and again you write like this logic and fear. I love the way you frame that because there's this kind of thought track that comes up of like, why the hell would you do this? Like, everything's great. There's no problem here, almost a lack of gratitude and a self-shame around that, like how could you ever consider breaking this life that you have? It's beautiful. That's so nourishing and as you said, there is a quiet, quiet voice in there that's like there's this, isn't it? And it's a shitty voice to listen to sometimes because it challenges all.

Ami: Because sometimes you have to go through a major disruption. Yeah, and the major disruption is so damn uncomfortable. To put in it is so uncomfortable and you have to, stay so focused and so committed to that quiet intuition and that deeper knowing. That's why for me, the way I talk so much about spirituality is because I have to trust in something bigger than myself. I know that this is like what's calling because it's not coming for me. It's coming from somewhere else, you know? So I have to trust in something bigger than me to help me, to help make sure that there's constantly wind in my sails and that I will get to land eventually. And during that, you know, that really uncomfortable journey, that I will be kept alive.

Alex: Well, and it's a matter of, I think like you've had him on the show, Jamie Miller, keeps offering this dynamic to me that's fear or faith. You can live in your life, you live your life from a place of fear, from a place of faith. And the place of fear is to not listen to that voice. And the place of faith is the trust that in listening to that voice, everything you've ever wanted is on its way to you and all you have to do is nothing else outside of listening to that voice and listen to that intuition, and it takes a serious act of faith to trust that you're taking care of that. The universe has your back, that's something out there is looking out for you in that. It's all on its way to panning out perfectly, and I'm right where I need to be and it's awful, you know, sometimes it's like "Fuck that, no, I'm not", like "This sucks. I want the safety, I want the life that I had in mind. I want the beautiful things that I had". And being alone is shitty and like coming home from a canoe trip and being sad after every trip. So far, I've been like, I'm coming home to this, like, void in my life and there is an aliveness and a full range in that, and the reminder comes at the heels to hold faith, to stand there, to trust that whatever is going to come around, whatever it might be, who the hell knows at this point is perfect and that I'm in the float in the unknown and not seeing the shore. I'm like, right at the perfect paddle stroke to be there.

Ami: It's amazing, Alex.  We're going to come back. We're gonna have a podcast episode in like two years. Do you remember that time when you were out of the ocean?

Alex: As shit is now, Alex, that's still shitty, but it's good.

Ami: Okay, so you take people out into nature for your job, it's what you've created for yourself, your company called Trip Shed, you take people out to Algonquin Park. And I'm curious, why is taking people to nature, to have experiences in the outdoors something that calls you so deeply that you've created a business around it?

Alex: Uh, I think it's twofold. I think there's a selfish reason, I just love tripping. I love being out there. I love the escape of it all. You know, I've often I've talked about it several times, this sort of context that I offer folks at the beginning of a trip is that a canoe trip to travel through the wilderness in that way is it's two things. It's a going away. It's an escape. It's in many ways a little disruption. It's a breaking of the regular structure that we live inside of rupturing the day to day routine and that's a vacation. That's a getaway, and in many ways, it's coming home. Lots of going away and going home and the going home component is that there is something inside of us in the human psyche that knows how to be in a community like that, where the people that you have with you, the gear that you've got, is all that you have to support yourself in the wilderness. There's something deep in our core that knows what it's like to feel pine needles beneath their feet and to feel the wind on our face across a lake, to swim in waters, in the lake, to sit around a fire that many of us have lost touch with that living in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, living in cities that we don't typically have access to, the sort of self-reliance that comes with moving through the wilderness in such a way that somewhere deep down, somewhere in our ancestral line, wherever the ancestral line leads to, that's how we have survived as a population of human beings is through

Alex: The creation and value of community against difficult odds, and sometimes when you're on a canoe trip and you're paddling against the headwind or there's a lightning storm or your fire won't start or your tent breaks or you forget your fucking tent as you need, you can't do it alone. And you can't do these disruptions alone, you need a community around you. And that, I think, is this piece of humanity that is so integral and it is something that I think is slipping. I think that today's day and age air quotes of, you know, disconnection and individualism and this hyper sort of boxing of our lives, there's a real gift that comes from being together in the wild and being in these spaces and that for me is, you know, hey, that's like the selfish point. But I remember moments that I've had growing up and in my early guide and career at that, like, totally blew me away. That was like my first experience with actually being present, of being in the flow, with having the sort of nonsense of everyday life stripped away down to its pure core, and it was like, well, what do you need? People shelter, water, food, great. Like the sort of basic bones and outside of that, there's nothing else there beyond what's right in front of you and I remember the impact that had on me when I first experienced that and still do whenever I go in on a trip.

Alex: And for me, the teach through story outside is to do that, to give people an opportunity to have that experience for themselves. Like I know what it's like for me, but to let them sit by a shoreline for an hour and get lost with nothing else around. You know, whenever we guide a trip, I often, as we paddle off and tell everybody, look back on the shoreline and say, like, "Whatever you've done, whatever you have going on at home, whatever meetings call, Zoom this and that, whatever is there, just for a moment, leave it on the shore. I guarantee you it'll be back when we get back. I invite you to just, it's not going to serve you in the next three days. It's going to have no place". And it's just that like physical and mental, "Okay, there's all this shit that I think about, I'm going to leave it there". Something opens up or people can just get lost in the experience of it all. I'm like, "Fuck it. Can I get to live my life and do that for people?". And make sure that they can do that safely and give them the tools and capacity and confidence to do that themselves, to teach their children and their friends and their family and their community and spread that in whatever meagre way that I can. Holy shit. Like, I wouldn't want to do anything else.

Ami: It sounds like what you're talking about is just like the essence of simplicity. That's just what really came to me when you were talking about that, it's so simple. It's just like you said it yourself, it's like it's just the basics that we need to survive and actually when go back to the basics to survive, we have access to parts of ourselves that bring us immense satisfaction, solitude, serenity, peace. I love that. Like coming home.

Alex: It's like you said too, you said, the easiest way to listen to that, that intuition is to quiet like it's effortless. And that's the experience of a canoe trip, it's very quiet. I had somebody play their iPhone in the canoe the other day and like playing a song. I was like, "Sure, go ahead, do your thing, whatever you want". In the back of my mind, I was like, quiet, listen to the goddamn loon.

Ami: I wonder if that's a rule. Yeah, a new Trip Shed rule.

Alex: Yeah, I know. Whatever, but yeah, the whole experience allows for everything to be stripped away and inside of that, people have access to that quiet intuition, that quiet voice that otherwise there's no room to hear.

Ami: David Attenborough says, "It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement, the greatest source of visible beauty, the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living." And I love David Attenborough so much. He's just such a brilliant, brilliant man, and I just think he sums up so well there. It's like there's so much in that makes life worth living. And I feel like that's something in this conversation that we're both so committed to, is like making life worth living, like what is life worth living for?

Alex: And it's the simple joy and excitement that comes up when you say that. I'm just reminded of a memory from this past weekend strip in the evening. This, like wood turtles, comes up to our shoreline. Everyone got like they were freaking out as if they were five-year-olds being given the biggest lollipop. And we're like, "Oh, my God, this wood turtle", and dancing around and talking to it and calling it funny names and this and that, like, how often do we have the opportunity to get so lit up and excited, like childlike wonder, through something as simple as I mean the turtle isn't simple, but like as a tree swaying in the wind or a turtle visiting your site and just poking its head out. You know, we missed all these things in most of our lives. We don't have the quiet to actually see what's there all the time. Even as I sit right in front of you and just look at the cedar planks behind you, I keep getting focused on the one knot over there. Yeah, that's a cool knot. 

Ami: Like we're so distracted. We're so easily distracted.

Alex: Yeah, exactly. And a canoe trip is an opportunity to sometimes shockingly can be a disruption for folks who, you know, live in downtown Toronto and a condo, especially right now in Covid. We had somebody who came on our first trip who had hardly left his condo in the past six months, had very little social interaction. We talk about disruption, getting a canoe and go sleep in a tent in the woods for three days and he came out of that with this because he's coming on this weekend strip too, he's like, "Sign me up for another one, let's go". It's like that is what I want. I don't give a shit what we eat, I don't care if we see an animal or not. For him to have that experience where he reconnected to a part of himself that he hadn't had access to in some time. If I can build a life around that and I think it'll be okay.

Ami: That's amazing. Where do you want to go right now? what is your day to day life of someone who runs a trip guiding company? I picture your Instagram profile picture somewhere laying in a hammock.

Alex: I mean, if that's what I need to do for the day, then that's that. It's a treat. Right now, my day to day is hustle and bustle. Sometimes. I think I mentioned I've been working for the past few months as a canoe maker and a boatbuilder, apprenticing with backcountry custom canoes. And that's been like I talk about disruption as well, and that's sort of the pull that led me to leave my job at the outdoor school, was having this new opportunity and something was like, you've got to go learn this craft. There is a story here that wants to be written like this canoe trip guide, owner of this experience maker, whatever the hell you want to call it, and learning the craft that enables me to do these trips, like there's something romantic in it that, of course, we can make all the meaning we want and write any story we want, and that story was like, "Fuck, that sounds pretty good. Let me go play with that for a bit". So right now, my day to day is I go and build canoes during the day and in the evenings, ransack, that's not the word I was looking for. It's just the bustle of like packing for trips and trying to just push, push, push, push, push. There is like the relative freedom to be able to sit in a hammock and do my work there or take my dog for a walk.

Ami: I think that's such a disruption. Sorry to interrupt you there. I just feel like that alone is a disruption. Yeah, you created a life for yourself. You do get the opportunity to be able to lay in the hammock and go take your dog for a walk. Like, I know it sounds so simple, but it's not really simple. It's actually quite insightful and profound, really, because that is why coming back to what we were first talking about, that is why we are willing to do something so risky like quitting our job, not that every disruption has to be around quitting our jobs and doing something so risky. Yeah, and it's not even that risky, you know what I mean?

Alex: As I left, He was like, "If you ever want to come back, the door's always open", that was the job that I loved first.

Ami: Exactly. Exactly. That's the thing, we perceive the risk to be so much more than what it really is and that we just get so stuck in the devil we know or the devil we don't know. But anyway, sorry, to complete that thought, is that to be able to just go walk your dog whenever you want, to be able to go lay in a hammock, whatever you want, like that is a disruption because you intentionally created your life to be able to do those types of things. 

Alex: Well, I think it comes back to what I was saying before, of like the holding thing, holding both things in both hands, to hold the sort of self-imposed pressure and hustle and bustle of creating a business from the ground up is at times very stressful. So you've got to have that and hold that and be willing to put in the work and deal with the blows that might come up. And the gift of that, like the gratitude part of that, is you know, talk about day to day most every week. And I'm on a trip right now, so my day to day there is like I'm just paddling all day long and teaching people all day long. And the other night, all the dinner was done, dishes were clean and people were hanging out. So I was like, "I'm going to go take a nap for half an hour", and like, took a nap, woke up in the setting sun and went for a swim and usually before I jump in the lake every time on a trip, I have this thought of like, "Holy hell, I'm getting paid to do this right now", and then I dive into a lake. That's part of my day to day right now or learning the nuances of how a boat curvature works and just getting lost in something that is so intriguing and beautiful to me.

Ami: That's what I love so much. Like what I care about the most in this world, like what my calling is and like what I'm here to do and it's taken me a long time. Something I've been talking a lot about on social media is finding out what my purpose is or what I'm here to do, or my calling is, what my soul's calling is. And I talk about this a lot that like, you know, I don't necessarily believe we have one purpose. It's like we have so many things we're interested in that's not necessarily about our purpose. It's about what is important to us and what do we care about and by asking those questions and you stack action of like, you know, this is what's important to me. So I'm going to go and do that one thing on top of another thing you care about on top of another thing that's important to you by the end, your purpose starts to emerge and the thing for me is like it's unfortunate because like I go with whatever's most sparkly in the times, "I'm like, oh, my God, that's more sparkly". So I kind of like I'm like jumping ships all the time in the middle of the ocean and that can be a little bit challenging for the people in my life.

Alex: I can empathise with that.

Ami: I want to bring it back to what you were talking about around intentionality and people. Yeah, like the curvature in the boat, that you're able to live your life doing what you love because that is what you care about the most, is something that I get the most joy out of the experience for people. I don't care if it's hockey cards. I don't care if it's like growing pumpkins. It doesn't matter to me. It's like whatever it is that you've had the guts and the gusto to be able to take the steps, to be able to go towards that thing. 

Alex: And that's the Hole in the Fence.

Ami: Tell me about that, what's that?

Alex: Like years ago, I mean, I keep saying years ago I should just sit down and write it. I had this idea to write a children's book, and it was called The Hole in the Fence. The basic premise is that there's this big city, a young little fox lives in the city, and every day she runs the work and she's got a briefcase and a suit and she's always hustling and bustling around and just like a very fast-paced, rushed, structured and dense life. And every day she walks to work as she passes this fence. One day she walks past the fence and sees a hole in the fence and as she walks by, she hears laughter through the hole in the fence, but she's in this massive rush, she's late for her first day and she takes off. The next day, the same thing. She hears yeeps, and yees, and howls through this whole fence. But she's like, "I got to go, got to go", and takes off. And finally one day she walks by and like in the mud, going through the hole in the fence, sees a track, a footprint that looks very much like her own. And she was like, "Holy shit, I've got to", and dropped her suitcase, like rips off her suit in this fantastic moment and like, crawled through the hole in the fence and there, this fox meets the wild and she meets other foxes who teach her how to be a wild animal. She becomes herself and she finds this part of herself and she lives in the woods and there's always a rainbow, no matter what the weather in these beautiful creeks and whatever, children's book pictures. But it's this idea that there is something in our life,

Alex: There's some kind of fence, there's some hole in the fence that is calling us and it could be hockey cards or basket weaving or toenail painting, whatever the hell it is. But you do that and that's where there's the least noise in your life. That's where you feel the most alive. You know, I had a conversation recently of, anyway's in the conversation, it came out that, a declaration for myself that who I am in the world right now is a guide and a builder. And what I got in that is that, if you're living in a way that there's a lack of integrity in yourself, there is something out of alignment that you're ignoring that hole in the fence. Like I don't trust myself when I'm in that spot, and how can I expect somebody to paddle a boat that I built or to come with me into the wilderness if that is showing up in my presence, if that lack of alignment, that lack of integrity, that ignoring of that quiet voice? Of course, there's going to be dishonesty in my being that is going to come through and coming back and doing like the shitty parts of life that you need to do in eating the shit sandwich to come to that point. Inside of that, you know, I always notice it in my voice, like drops down from my throat down to my stomach and there is like my feet are back on the ground. And I would trust that person to build the boat for me or to take me on a trip into the woods.

Ami: What's this shit sandwich?

Alex: Oh, the shit sandwich. It's the price of admission to get onto the boat, into the unknown. It's the grief, it's the hard work, it's the discomfort of making those decisions.

Ami: Having to get through the carbs in order to get the good meaty deliciousness.

Alex: In this case, the media is just like a pile of shit. Yeah, it's you know, I think we make decisions in our life based on that quiet voice sometimes so we can make decisions based on that quiet voice. And like I have recently, with a romantic partner or with a job. It's not fun and you have to move through the grief and the sadness and the loss and the hardship and the fear and like, you can. Ultimately, you're going to have to eat the shit sandwich at some point, you can try and mask over it with distractions or addictions or whatever the hell it might be. But at some point in your life, you're going to have to sit down and eat that shit sandwich and deal with the pain and the sadness and the loss and whatever is there. There's no way around it.

Ami: But I also get that from your saying, that it's not always shitty. It's like a sandwich to goodness in the middle. But you have to get through the bread in order to get into the middle. It's like, are you willing? And that's the question. I guess that is the question, like are you willing to have to go through the uncomfortable parts in order to get to the parts that you love the most? That you're really after.

Alex: Well, that's the full hue of life, right? You can't get to those good parts that have you feeling most alive and most grounded and the most quiet in your life without being willing to wade into the unknown and do the shitty parts and like move through the grief and whatever it might be, and actually do the work that's required of you to liberate yourself from the structures that existed inside of. That sucks and it's beautiful, and it's like such a gift to be able to. My gratitude every morning lately, is like how grateful I am to experience everything that I'm experiencing right now, the freedom that comes from building this business, from being able to point my sail in a direction and go, and how awful it is to feel this grief and like how sad it is and how beautiful it is to have both of those things. To be awake and alive enough to recognize being in those and cry when you got to cry and laugh when you can laugh and I can jump into a lake when you can jump into a lake because life's too fucking short to not do that.

Ami: One of the ways that you and I first met was an interesting, weird turn of events. We found ourselves painting and as we were painting, we started talking about kind of where are our families came from. And you're talking about how you were raised Jewish and you're Jewish and raised downtown Toronto in a very not orthodox.

Alex: But yeah, the community was modern orthodox.

Ami: And that I was raised German, no, I'm not raised German, my grandmother, my grandfather German, my dad's German, and that both of our families were in Europe during World War Two. And we kind of spoke about how it's crazy that, you know, my family was doing atrocious things to Jewish people and that your family had experience things that my family was putting upon you And we spoke about that and how we were talking about, like how like look at us now. Like here we are sitting here having this beautiful conversation and like, what does it take? Look, I don't know. Do you remember that conversation at all? Or like what came up or

Alex: For me, it was kind of this beautiful sense of, like, funny how the world works sometimes. I think the idea of disruption comes to mind, too, like disrupting ancestral lines or patterns or I mean, granted that happened on large scale in that context, but, yeah. How, if we've gone back two generations, our families were in stark opposition? And then here we find ourselves in community, having known each other for some time and working on this project to create a space for somebody else to call home and to feel safe because we were painting for an apartment that somebody can move into and listening to music and just kind of having this, like, joyous, loving space to create a home for somebody and how you go back to, like, you know, you're right where you need to be kind of thing. Like there's some weird level of faith in there, too, that everything panned up beautifully for us to find each other at this time, at this place in the world, in this basement with this eggshell off white to get it on the walls. And what a treat it is to have those moments of wonder. That's what it was. It was

Ami: Wonder. 

Alex: Holy fuck.

Alex: We're like, how did we get here?

Ami: Yeah.

Alex: I felt so grateful and close to you in that experience on so many levels because of the past friendship, the friendship we've had over the past couple of years.

Ami: Yeah, it was just kind of like, wow. Yeah. Like our grandparent's experience, and did that and that wasn't too long ago. And we're here right now.  Creating healing for the world, going both their own inner work to be able to heal our own trauma, but also our generational trauma.

Alex: So reclamation of love, right? Like it's in a time we go back, there was a lack of that and here we were in a space of giving love and in sharing that together, and reclaiming it and like owning it and

Ami: Talking about it,

Alex: Talking about it by bringing up the dirt that, you know, that's again, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the hard. 

Ami: Ok, so my final question for you is, where is the best place to have sex in the woods?

Alex: I would say either in a tent or on the shoreline of a lake looking out of the sunset. Up against a tree is fantastic. Those are great spots. Apparently, in a canoe but I've yet to get to try that in a canoe and it strikes me as you've got to have some goddamn good balance. But I've paddled a canoe broken. It was apparently broken, some heavy petting in the woods.

Ami: Thank you, Alex, so much for your time. This has been such an amazing conversation. I so appreciate it.