Motivational Story

We will all face problems in our lives that seem completely insurmountable. Whether it’s getting through a divorce or meeting a demanding career goal, we all feel overwhelmed by our circumstances at one point or another. It’s an inevitable part of any life worth living.

While you may be tempted to think that you should try to minimize the number of obstacles you face when times are good in order to reduce the total adversity in your life, this is not always the case. Instead, seeking out your own challenges to conquer can strengthen you and bring you to better appreciate living. 

Dianne Whelan Does the Impossible by Never Giving Up 

This is the philosophy employed by documentarian and outdoor enthusiast Dianne Whelan. Back in 2015, at the age of 50, Diane had an idea that seemed just a little bit crazy. She wanted to traverse the entire Trans Canada Trail, which is comprised of 16,000 miles of trails, paths, roads, and rivers.

No one had ever traveled the entire length of the Trail, but Dianne was convinced she could do it and began her journey. Her arduous journey started off very slowly. After ten days, she had failed to travel as far as she thought she would have been able to travel in only one day. Undeterred, she set aside her schedule made her peace with the task at hand.

As the days turned into weeks, the monumental nature of her challenge became clear. Dianne’s days became filled with backpacking up mountains, trudging through waist-high snow, and fording rivers. Her skills as a wilderness adventurer were pushed to their limit and beyond.

Ironically, as her reality set in and any timetable regarding her finish faded into fantasy, Dianne came to appreciate her surroundings more and more. The difficulties she had to face every day reminded her of her own resilience. The majesty of the environment she found herself in reminded her of how small she is in the grand scheme of things.

Soon it became obvious that the journey could not be completed all at once. There was simply too much to do and too far to travel. As the harsh winter of Northern Canada began to set in, Dianne came to accept this. Many people would have simply given up at this point. They would conclude they had bit off more than they could chew and move on. 

Dianne Whelan is not most people. Employing some of the adaptability and calm she had learned on the Trail, she altered her original plans. Even though it had been months and she had only traveled a fraction of the Trans Canada Trail, Dianne decided she would complete the task in chunks.

Dianne returned home for the winter and came back to pick up where she left off the following spring. Once again, she put one foot in front of the other and journeyed towards her ethereal goal. Time became immaterial as she spent the next several years of her life in this same pattern, walking the Trail for eight months out of each year. 

Among the solitude and even desolation she sometimes found herself in, Dianne made a surprising number of human connections. She would encounter local people and tell them about her journey, and, time and time again, these people would offer to help her by giving her a meal or even just some temporary companionship. 

Dianne also spent time among the native peoples of Canada, whose land she was often traveling through. In these communities, she learned to be more in harmony with the nature around her. She also made many friendships with people that lasted long after she had left their lands behind.

In the summer of 2021, nearly six long years after she began walking, Dianne’s goal was finally in sight. In preparation for this, her friends and family, including many she had met on her way across Canada, gathered at the finish line. With tears in her eyes and surrounded by loved ones, Dianne finished her journey on August 1.

Dianne had done what no one had ever done before. She had walked, biked, rowed, and snowshoed over 16,000 miles over the course of six years. To put this feat in perspective, that is more than five times the distance from New York to Los Angeles and over three times the distance from London to Beijing.

For much of this time, Dianne was alone and faced conditions that were often harsh and unforgiving. She worked hard every day and often slept outside. Despite this, Dianne said that the experience made her feel more part of the world than she ever had before. She had learned to be a part of nature and to form bonds with people everywhere.

Dianne Whelan can serve as an inspirational example for all of us. No matter how impossible a situation may seem, it can be surmounted by taking one step at a time and refusing to give up, just like Dianne did. In the end, you will come out stronger and more appreciative of your place in the world.