Our Centre Community: Bryan Eknath Hill
I was an art punk. One of those kids your parents warned you about. I grew up typically middle class in a rather affluent suburb of Vancouver, not to say that we were very well off, but of sufficiently average income. I graduated high school with a green mohawk, 5 blocks of art and the absolute minimum of academic credits. When I did care about what I was learning I maintained a very high GPA. That was the case in both middle school, college and numerous other courses.
I think of myself as a collector of certifications. I have a lot of them. Lets see; diploma, AED, CPR-C, LSI, NLS, YTT200hr, BCRPA, RMT, NFPA I&II, OFA3, WSI… There are a few more that I can’t recall. The ones I never completed were BFA & BA. It’s like alphabet soup. The majority of these certifications and programs were offered in crash course format; cram as much information into the most condensed amount of time possible. I’m not a fan of that type of educational format. I prefer a slow, gentle saturation of learning but lifestyle has dictated for me to maximize the work/education/time ratio. That was the conscious rationale behind why I selected the SSCY YTT program. It maximized my learning opportunity with minimal sacrifice of employment and time.
I’m a rather frugal fellow, I collect certificates and experiences but otherwise am a minimalist. The 5 blocks of art lead to a very brief stint in Emily Carr College of Art and Design. I was too young to appreciate what they were trying to teach me, or perhaps the message was poorly encoded. There was a rather strange turn in art school; I preferred the academics of art history to the practical skills classes. I was amazed at how the art of the ancient world reflected the collective consciousness in politics and science. There is a direct correlation between artistic style and sophistication and the technological abilities of the culture that births an art form. My downfall in art school was that parties were more important than my part-time scholastic career. That and I couldn’t afford art college on minimum wage. I still create art as a hobby. I’ve sold a few pieces as well. I typically work with acrylic paints on canvas. And I love painting huge canvases. I like when I can present an image that fills the senses and presents a different reality.
Later I returned to the education system with 10 years more maturity. The party had finished. I had spent a decade floating around the Vancouver, the Rockies and Australia experiencing life. Through all the heart breaks and naive things a reckless 20 something does, I managed to survive. There were a few very hard lessons from the school of hard knocks but I lived to tell the tale. I learned very well to consciously select the environment in which to plant the seeds I wished to reap.
Just before the new millennium I was provided the final impetus to return to Canada and begin consciously designing my life. I tend toward processes goals rather than objective goal. I was at a transition point in life of learning to run towards something rather than running away from something. I set my sights on becoming a firefighter. Not so much to be a firefighter but to explore the variety of career opportunities that provide the foundational skills for that career path. I sought out employment in aquatics to support myself through this journey. I ended up teaching swim lessons for many years as well as aquatic fitness classes. I found this to be extremely personally rewarding work for a long time. The safety and rescue aspects of lifeguarding are aligned with firefighting. I learned to drive trucks which is a long road from the art punk I was 18 years prior. This process goal also took me to further post secondary education at Langara College in human kinetics, French and meta-cognition. I devoted myself to increasing my physical strength in order to meet my objective too. For a few years I lived a very intensely full life of school, work and physical training. Yoga found me and lured me in with its calm meditative nature. I participated in a weekly hatha class at the gym I attended every other waking moment that wasn’t spent at work, school or sleeping. In 2005 I went for a 12 week National Fire Protection Agency Level 1&2 certification at Lakeland College Emergency Training Centre in Vermillion, AB. Now I was ready to apply for career firefighter positions.
Catch twenty-two; I needed experience to get hired in my chosen career path. I ended up moving to the Comox Valley to volunteer with Cumberland Fire Rescue. The switch from city living to the rural setting was a delightful shock. After my husband and I had spent a few years in the valley we agreed to make this our permanent home. My career in aquatics had shifted toward more traditional fitness classes and my interest in yoga asana had continued to grow. As my life slowed down with country living I recognized how to feed my soul better. I, again, enrolled in a crash course. This time it was YTT at SSCY. Life was never the same.
Though overflowing with love for the practice of yoga and being recognized as an accomplished instructor the logistics of being a yoga teacher in the Comox Valley was incongruent with a sustainable and calming existence of a standard to which I have grown accustomed. Enter Bryan Hill, registered massage therapist. This was the biggest crash course of all time and yet another certificate!
Some of my favorite experiences were on mountain tops or in remote pristine wilderness. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to some spectacular places, the Alps, Andes, Chilcotins, Desolation Sound, Banff. I share this passion with my spouse, friends and family. I am truly blessed with remarkable people in my life who help me to travel the world and revel in the beauty of what is here, both the spectacular by nature and feats of human creativity. I remember well the awe of seeing a Monet for the first time or Versaille or the Barrier Reef.
My firefighter efforts also brought volunteering into my life. At the heart of the profession is community service. I worked with habitat for humanity and a number of other volunteer efforts while living in Vancouver. When I moved to Vancouver Island, the fire department I started with received no remuneration at all. The department members regularly assisted with other groups in the village to support the young, elderly and disadvantaged. I like to come back to the Salt Spring Centre every year to assist with the YTT program. I enjoy supporting the environment that helps people go through transformation. Each time I return to the Centre and reconnect with my mentors I feel a sense of community. I thoroughly love reconnecting with the Centre staff and meeting the current program participants.