What kind of things could divert me from a long-established goal of becoming a citizen of my adopted country? Well, in no particular order (in fact in totally random order); working too many hours and being away from home too much, illness (not mine), lifestyle changes, divorce, death (not mine) and marriage - to name just a few. Since I arrived in Canada, it's been a busy thirteen years - either in the traditional sense of 'busy', or in the emotional sense. There was for instance, a period of time within which my mind was exhausted, when staying sane was a priority. There was also a period of time when enjoying life and renewing my energy was paramount.
The result of diversions such as these was that completing the citizenship process (paid for many years ago) fell off the agenda and was lost at the bottom of my mental 'IN' tray. The result of that was that I felt that I'd lost the desire to become a Canadian citizen, and when I awoke the process two years ago, I did so out of a sense of duty rather than any passion for Canada. That's what I thought.
Yesterday I stood in a room with seventy three other new Canadians (two of whom were the fruit of my loins), raised my right hand and pledged allegiance to my country's values and ideals. As I did so, I felt the stirrings of emotion within me. I felt that I was arriving at a destination that I had somehow forgotten about, that I had awoken more than an idea - that I had awoken a dream. My journey to becoming a Canadian began sixteen years ago, and yesterday that circle was closed.
I will always consider myself English, but now I have earned the right to use another way to describe myself. I have chosen a new home for the rest of my life, and now I belong a little more completely.
Tears welled in my eyes as I shook the hand of the presiding judge and accepted my certificate. The tears surprised me but they felt right. They made sense because of my journey - the personal journey that lies inside each of us and which only we can fully understand about ourselves. My tears made sense only to me, and that's just fine. My outwardly visible journey has been long, but compared to so many others, on the surface it has been extremely easy. I have not escaped a violent society or persecution, but I have escaped nevertheless, and I have found some of what I was hoping to find.
The truth about my journey is deeply private, and it lives within me. I remember the small stuff and the big stuff that has happened to me in that time - some of it very big stuff...and the emotion makes sense. Suddenly, becoming Canadian symbolizes the end of one phase of my life and the transition to another - the leaving behind of one way of being and the beginning of a way which is more real. Suddenly, against all odds, saying three simple words makes a difference I had never imagined it might.
Today, you see; I am Canadian.