For most of us, we love the outdoors because we love the adventure that comes with it. Skiing, kayaking, biking is what brings us outside and teaches us to appreciate what nature has to offer. Not everyone is like that however. For Tom Cochrane, simply being in nature is not only invigorating but it is necessary and that is something he learnt over the years.
Like many kids, Tom wanted to get our his small Pasadena hometown to go explore what the world has to offer. He went from a University campus in Corner Brook with 1500 students to York University in Toronto which has around 50,000 students. It was a big change, one that he enjoyed and does not regret.
“It was cool and a fun experience but it just didn’t feel right in my heart, but I needed that. I needed to go or else I wouldn’t have learnt that a city wasn’t right for me.”
Tom did not have a big connection to nature before moving but every time he would come back home for the holidays or during the summer, he would have a growing sense of belonging.
“It’s like the Joni Mitchell song. You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone. Not having it, not being able to go outside, walk 10 minutes and be in the middle of nowhere. Not having that felt wrong. And being away from the ocean was terrible.”
Tom still completed his degree in Toronto. He came back to the island to work a contract in Corner Brook for the summer with the plan to start his Master’s degree in St. John’s in the fall. His summer contract brought him to work on a production where they had put dancer in the pond and musicians in a boat. That fired him up.
“It was amazing being able to do that in a place where people already had a connection with. It was new, different and people got excited about it. I got really excited about it. Then I decided I couldn’t leave… there was too much going on here.”
For Tom, it was a new era, a new revelation. He secured a job at the University and would spend his time off and vacation working on events and festivals in Corner Brook and Gros Morne.
“People thought I was crazy but it was the most soul fulfilling thing for me. Art brought me closer to nature.”
During the same period, a long term relationship came to an end for him and his newfound passions were there to heal him.
“I was in a bad dark place. Nature and art saved me. I spent a lot of time in the middle of winter snowshoeing for hours alone in Gros Morne. It was therapeutic to allow the landscape to sink into your bones; physically because it’s cold but also psychologically gathering strength and power from it. Those moments over a period of a year or so solidified the fact that this is important in my life.”
Tom is not a wild adventurer that ventures in long and dangerous expeditions and needs to push limits regularly. No. Tom is a contemplator. One that enjoys a slow peaceful walk by himself to observe and appreciate nature and clear his mind.
“To me it’s really cool when you can go on a 2h simple hike and be stunned by the views. I sit, have a cup of tea and a lunch, just exist in it. You can look around and absorb what surrounds you. I’ll often stop and sit or stop and shoot. It’s really cool because from October to May we are offseason and there is nobody around. It is so quiet but a lot of the trails are still accessible. You can go and not see anybody and that experience is amazing to me.”
This amazement, Tom can experience it regularly since he spend most of his time in or around Gros Morne National Park. When asked what makes this place special, his face lit up as he looked out the window.
“I don’t know why, there is something about this place, because of the communities around. There is a pulsating heart with the people that live here. There is some kind of energy that comes out of here. Some people call it magic, some people say it’s just being able to connect with the universe. Whatever it is, there is just an energy that inspires you to create, love, celebrate your friends and family.”
At the moment, Tom is in a great place. He gets to live, enjoy and create in one of his favourite place and gains energy and inspiration from both his work and personal time outdoors.
“I have the best job in the world right now because I have the opportunity to throw the artists into the natural world and ask them to perform and my job is to record it. But the experience of watching them be in awe about the landscape around them, it brings me a new sense of inspiration. I’m the most spoiled person in the entire word.”
Spoiled is how he feels about his life at the moment because he has found in nature, his way and his purpose.
“For a lot of people creating art is the only way to express themselves. It’s how they grow, it fells right. A tree only know how to grow. That’s what it has to do.”
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