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Finding Your Challenges

Finding Your Challenges

June 6, 2016

Authored by Jared Monkman, a bridge engineer in CH2M’s Toronto office. In just a couple weeks he will join nine other global colleagues on a volunteer project with Bridges to Prosperity to construct a 56-meter suspension bridge in the community of La Brisa, Nicaragua.

There’s a line in Douglas Adams book “Mostly Harmless” that always stuck with me, it goes “Everybody has their moment of great opportunity in life. If you happen to miss the one you care about, then everything else in life becomes eerily easy.” My interpretation of this (right or wrong) is that it’s a nice, simple way of reminding us that a rewarding life isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be challenging!

Jared goes to the gym every day to physically challenge himself and chooses to eat chicken and beef every day to achieve his training goals. Fabian busts his butt working every day because he has to and would be pretty happy to eat chicken or steak every day because it isn’t even available that often.

Jared (right) goes to the gym every day to physically challenge himself and chooses to eat chicken and beef every day to achieve his training goals. Fabian busts his butt working every day because he has to and would be pretty happy to eat chicken or steak every day because it isn’t even available that often.

I’ve been pretty lucky as far as life putting opportunities and challenges in front of me. I’ve lived in lots of amazing places, been forced to learn and adapt to different cultures, had the opportunity to be sent out to work in remote locations in the harshest climates on the planet, walked on 6” wide truss bracing members hundreds of meters in the air, and faced just about every fear you can imagine. I’ve trained in the gym and played sports most of my life and when I started competing in bodybuilding I pushed my body to its limits through diet and training, living on less food than my body needed and working my butt off every day to succeed in my chosen goals. I used to think I knew what struggle and challenge was, I’d taken every aspect of my life to the limit and come out the other side…then I started travelling and I realized that the challenges I’d been taking on were simply what most of the rest of the world does on a daily basis just to get by.

I just got back from another trip down to Costa Rica right next door to Nicaragua where we’ll be building our bridge. Travelling opens your eyes to the world, other cultures, ways of life, and the truly incredible privilege we have living in first world, developed countries, and also to many of the values that we’ve lost along the way. You’ve got to go to the ragged edges of our countries to find the sorts of challenges people in some areas of developing countries face on a daily basis. Working north of the tree line in Canada I’ve been in areas that are seasonally inaccessible, or can only be reached by plane, where there are no services and people are essentially on their own to survive. However in those areas they also work together to survive as a single community which is not something you will ever see in a city like Toronto, London, or New York.

Some people train to run marathons, others have to walk 30 miles a day just to get to work…and if they’re going to be late, then they simply run.

Some people train to run marathons, others have to walk 30 miles a day just to get to work…and if they’re going to be late, then they simply run.

Facing challenge is what makes us grow as individuals and pushes us collectively forward as a community. I love that Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) provides people from cultures and countries around the world with opportunities to contribute to a community that will grow and provide even more opportunities for everyone there, while at the same time providing those of us who get to assist them with the opportunity to experience something a lot of our cultures have lost, true community. This way we can start to reclaim community and they can move their communities forward, working towards a unified positive future! Truly a winning combination!

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June 2016

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