Why Aren’t You Proud?
‘So what are you planning to do in Sintra?’ I asked the elderly lady sat next to me.
The train from Lisbon to Sintra was packed with tourists and we got chatting.
‘I have no idea…I am here just here with my two sons and their families. I’ll do whatever they decide do. We are all from California,’ she said, pointing towards two families with little babies.
‘What about you?’ she asked.
‘I’m travelling with my son,’ I said, pointing towards my ten year old. ‘We will go up the hill to Pena Palace first and then make our way back down to see the rest of the town.’
She was impressed that I was travelling on my own with a child. She said she could never do that and in fact this was her first time out without her husband.
‘We learn as we go,’ I said.
Only a few hours later, I found myself next to another elderly lady, this time in a packed bus that was sluggishly making its way up the hill to the palace. She was from Israel and travelling alone.
‘How long is your trip?’ she asked me.
‘Five days. How long is yours?’
‘Two weeks,’ she said, as she opened a travel guide and a diary with extensive notes for what appeared to be a meticulously planned trip. She knew exactly which places she wanted to see.
Eventually, my son and I ditched the bus because of the traffic and hiked up – 49 floors as per my health app!
While climbing, I couldn’t help reflect on the two conversations and just how different the two were. And then I remembered a third!
This one was from the previous day when we were in Cascais (a very relaxed beach resort town) having lunch with family friends. They were an Indian couple settled in Cascais since retirement – 24 years ago!
As we walked by the busy marina, they told me of their lifestyle and how much they looked forward to their daily swim, a walk by the beach and occasional visits abroad. And it would be unfair if I didn’t add that they had made the most amazing chicken curry!!
So what was I thinking?
- First, age. Thinking through the three conversations, I realised that often, age is associated with a sense of pity and even fear. I know of countless friends dreading even just 40 and feel obliged to celebrate yet another birthday! In fact, I remember meeting a friend on the eve of his 40th. He said he felt like life had come to an end. And then I looked at these four relaxed individuals. Regardless of whether they were with spouses, children, grand children or single, travelling or at home, their attitude and gratitude was remarkable!
- Second, choices! Sometimes, we know precisely where we are going and what we want to do while at other times, we are happy just to tag along. And both are totally okay. To choose not to be too particular is also a choice – as good as any other. The same goes with lifestyle. Some of us love routine and others love have a more adventurous streak – again nothing wrong with either.
Not just in travel but in day-to-day life too. Sometimes people more ambitious frown upon those less so and vice-versa. It’s an utter waste of energy in my view. Instead of searching our souls to grant approval (which often was never sought in the first place) we could focus instead on helping people achieve their chosen path – whatever that be.
I’ll leave you here saying whoever you are, wherever you are…regardless of superficial denominations like age and choice, be proud of who you are. Equally, don’t trample on others’ dreams!
Every grey hair and every scar carries a story. Write yours with pride!