Inspiring and being inspired. For Roy Glew, it is a little bit of both, everyday. When you meet this smiling giant, you immediately feel like smiling back. His calm demeanour and obvious happiness is contagious and you start to wonder. What makes someone so happy? Choosing to live a life that makes you smile everyday is what did it for Roy, even if that choice was not the easiest.
“I was caught up in the corporate world once. I had to get out because I wasn’t happy there at all. I was following a path that “they” say we should do. It happened over time. I was starting to realize I had to do something different. It just wasn’t working. My health wasn’t good. I’m thankful that I was able to recognize it and say: ‘Ok, something has got to change’.”
He was in his early fifties when Roy decided to make a move. What a lot were thinking was a mid-life crisis, was in fact way more profound. The change that had seemed sudden was the result of long years of refrained desires for him.
“I’ve always loved the mountains. I’d come here, I’d bring my kids here. I have three kids. For years, years and years, I always said I wanted to live in the mountains, but life catches up and you don’t do those things. I don’t regret it. I got wonderful kids, but they are now on their own, they are doing their thing, and I’m gonna go do my thing again.”
His desire to live near the Rockies and his love for skiing and ski instructing pushed him to move from Edmonton to Jasper and leave a lot behind. Leaving 30 years of marriage and a family behind was not easy at all.
“I was more scared of leaving my kids, or else I would have done it a lot sooner. I didn’t want to leave the kids. It is a little scary to leave all you know. You wonder if it’s going to work. It’s not a huge income sort of a place. I took huge pay cuts to come and do this, but you figure out it’s not about money.”
Between part time ski instructing during the winter, which he loves, and a variety of odd jobs, like being a zamboni diver or a maintenance staff for a resort, he is making enough to meet his needs and it’s all he is asking for. What he did not expect or ask for was meeting the love of his life. Carole was, just like him, drawn to move to a place that makes her heart sing, for both the mountains and the man. Together, they rediscover nature with children’s eyes.
Like this was not enough, he also works for the National Park as a member of a trail crew, a job that contributes to making him smile everyday.
“What I am doing now with the trail crew, what a blessing this has been! We build trails, reroute trails, clear trails. I got to do some really fun things. We built a couple of bridges. You go in, you cut some trees, peel them, slice them up and build a bridge. It’s a pretty cool day at work! We get out to a worksite, and I look around and I’m just in awe. This is my office. How special is that. You get to walk it, there is nobody there. It’s you and the crew.”
Roy is inspired both by the natural wonders he is surrounded by on a daily basis and the young people he gets to work with.
“The kids I work with often tell me they’d like to be like me when they get old. It’s kind of nice because these guys are incredible. They do so many incredible adventures, things that I wouldn’t do because I’m just a little bit too old now. To be around it, to listen to them talk and see them get excited, it’s incredible.”
Isn’t it funny how it works? They think of him as much as he thinks of them. He sees life done right and hopes they can continue making choices that makes them happy and that are not based on societal expectations. On their end, these kids see the hopes of a happy ending amidst a world where there is so much stress, pressures and societal expectations! They look at him enjoying life and hope to continue doing the same. How could you not be inspired by Roy. He’s always smiling, always laughing and seems to have so many more happy moments in front of him.
“I really feel I have arrived somewhere. There is so much to do here. I haven’t touched the surface of it. I want to get into the backcountry and do more backcountry skiing. I don’t really feel I need to go anywhere else than where I am right now. I made a move to be happy where I am. There are so many beautiful places int the world but you got to pick one. You can’t live in them all. I picked one to live in rather than just visit and I feel darn good about that.”
We have so much to learn from people like Roy. We all have the ability to make choices that can make our everyday life better and happier. There is no reason to wait fifty years before taking that step, today is as good of a day as any other. Anyway, that’s what Roy thinks!
“I’m sure you heard the saying: ‘You only live once’. I say bullshit to that. You die once…You live everyday!”