Friday, May 8, 2009

Knowing that you don't know

I am mostly at a lost today to explain my feelings. I never realised – truly realised that is – how many wonderful people surround me and how kind strangers can be when you truly open your heart. I have been brought to tears more than once today with everyone’s messages. I don’t even normally get this many birthday and Christmas messages. Yanni in particular; warn me man to read your messages next time without my mascara on. That was an awesome video. Thank you.

I am crossing paths with people who unwittingly give me the daily wisdom for my journey. I left my hostel this morning and the owner drove me the airport. He is a Nordic-looking hippy type with waist length blond hair plaited loosely down his back. He speaks in a slow patient manner with elongated elastic sentences that test my London born conversational rhythms. He carries his baby daughter everywhere on his hip. She grins and plays peek-a-boo from his shoulder and as soon as he puts her down she stretches her arms up to the nearest stranger for a hug. I hold her for a while relishing her unconditional warmth.

I make small talk with him on route to the airport. I talk of the Taiwanese girl I met there who had just started helping them out at the hostel doing odd jobs. She was very friendly and even accompanied me into the city the previous evening. I asked him what he thought of her and he said ‘as young people go she is very different. It’s not what you know, but knowing what you don’t know that’s important.’ He talked of her humility as she was left entirely alone to deal with the hostel whilst he attended to family matters. He said she had no idea what she was doing but was still eager to serve the people checking in and was apologetic for her lack of knowledge. He talked of Bill Gates speaking to graduates at a university about how what you can or cannot produce and your level of humility in doing so is more important than your self esteem. He talked of ‘affluenza’ and I agreed that there is a toxic mix of arrogance and ignorance sometimes in people. We talked of how less is more and I told him of my story in that when I was struggling with my health I realised there was nothing more important than being surrounded by love, trust and good health. Money and buying more things does not bring that. He then tells me that the reason why this girl is helping out is because his wife gave birth the day I checked in and it has been deeply worrying time for them all. He thought he was going to lose both his wife and his son. Whilst she is now okay they won’t know about his new son for another 3 months.

We pulled up at the airport and he heaved my ruck sack and suitcase out of the car. He said ‘yes travel does a lot of things. Mostly though, it just makes you very grateful.’

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