Older people have a habit of telling you that things could be much worse. Worse beyond my youthful (28) comprehension. When expressing gratitude for being done with a project or spring arriving after a gloomy winter, I’ll inevitably have to act up my awe and surprise when someone ‘wiser’ than myself emphasizes what a puppy I am. They’ve seen much intenser times before I was even born.
Thanks for reminding me I’m so very young. I don’t mind that at all. Please don’t feel offended by my oohs and aahs and mistake them for insults to your age – I’m just playing along. I thought that’s what you wanted.
“Lemme tell you a story…”
Be my guest – I love to learn from others. But will you let me tell you a story, or do you assume I have nothing interesting to contribute to your life? I’ve tried many times to join conversations about death, fear or poverty. I’m usually cut off and put in the corner with my mouth shut. Some people stare at me with intense disapproval.
But I’ve been lost at night, freezing, in the heart of the Andes and thought I would die. I’ve tried to revive a young man after a motorcycle crash – blood covering his face and my jeans. I’ve been threatened with abuse and murder by Dutch criminals, been approached by thuggish crowds in Latin America and sexually harassed beyond count. I’ve seen deadly mines, met broken people, slept on the street in winter, got lost again in a roadless desert and witnessed many inhumanities.
But I’ve also experienced intense love, lust and loss. Camped in remote places most people can only imagine and made coffee on a geyser at 5.000 m. Seen sunsets that lasted forever, summited volcanoes and mountains up to 6.003 m (19,695 ft), jumped off bridges and waterfalls and slept in a different hotel bed for years. I’ve read many classics including E. Gibbon, acted in shakespeare, been published. My drawings and paintings are in multiple countries and a monument was made after my design when I was 16.
I don’t attribute experience to age. This is not bragging, only an appeal to respect and appreciate each human for their own story without prejudice or contempt.