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Sometimes it's about the journey

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Miranda Lightstone
When my old high school contacted me about attending their Career Fair to speak about being a journalist to their grade 10, 11 and 12 students, I was a bit shocked. I'm a writer and an editor, not a game-changer. What could the children possibly learn from me?

But I agreed to present, and hopped in my 2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI test vehicle to make the near-200 km journey out to my old stomping grounds.

Along the winding, sloping highway route lined with orange, red, yellow and brown foliage as far as the eye could see, the Jetta and I fell into a rhythm. As I remenisced about my days at Stanstead College (the uniforms; the boarding houses; the 20-minute bell; the sprawling campus; the sit-down meals), the Jetta kept me firmly planted in the present, on schedule and topped up on fuel.

As my 2-hour drive came to an end in the Jetta TDI and we rolled into Stanstead, I took a few detours before heading to the school, visiting the house where my grandparents lived for nearly three decades and where I spent every summer and Christmas for years; then on to my old house where we lived for two years before moving to the big city.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI rear 3/4 view
Photo: Miranda Lightstone

Driving through the small town in the Jetta TDI, it all felt rather symbolic. I was looking back on the foundation that helped me become who I am today. My time living in Stanstead and attending Stanstead College molded me into the person I am today. It is my base. And I felt satisfied to be revisiting those memories in a car just as stable, reliable and unfaltering as that past proved to be for me.

Speaking with other invitees to the Career Fair, I started to feel rather “small” amongst the engineers, fighter pilots, RCMP officers and scientists. There I was: the lowly writer. I had no props (guns for the RCMP officer, helmets and skates for the engineer) and no uniform (the fighter pilot had his helmet and all), just some business cards and a lap top.

And yet, the children I spoke to were engaged in what I had to say. They had question upon question about how journalism has changed, how I make myself stand out, and how to succeed as a writer in a world where “anyone” can do it.

During one of my three sessions, I mentioned how (no matter what), it's important to love what you do or you won't do it well. Not only am I passionate about cars, but I love to write and I'm happy every morning when my alarm goes off. I want to go to work.

This garnered a standing ovation from a few students, and I have to admit; it made me blush.

As I walked out to my Jetta TDI at the end of the night, I stood for a moment and looked at the Moka coloured vehicle, dripping with autumn rain, sitting under a bright red maple tree: It was me, and my career.

The VW Jetta TDI is one of those cars you might not notice on the road, but it's so important to the automotive industry. It doesn't have tons of props or doodads (at least not that you'd notice right away). It's one of those vehicles that can change the game, in a subtle kind of way. It's unwavering, well-built and it knows where it stands in the industry. It's not trying to be anything it's not. And, despite the rapid changes going on around it in the automotive industry, it stands strong in its convictions as an expert in its domain.

I thought my short trip to Stanstead would be uneventful and perhaps even a bit embarrassing, but it turned out it was an enlightening trip in more ways than one. Sometimes it really is necessary to visit the past in order to pave the way for your future.
Miranda Lightstone
Miranda Lightstone
Automotive expert