I was chatting to someone on the way over to Canuckistan earlier this week and, as I was drifting off to sleep, had a revelation. You see, at first she was kind of defensive and cagey, which confused me. Why would anyone be defensive and cagey with someone as affable, nay, positively charming as I?
I mean, I do know that some of my friends have accused me of being creepy and stalker-like. But that’s normally when I’m hiding behind a tree or in my car with my long lens pointed at an unsuspecting subject. And in this case, in the bowels of a Boeing, my camera hadn’t made an appearance, even covertly.
And then I realised what it was. Over the course of the evening – until she feigned sleep, turned her back on me and started breathing more loudly than needed – I had shared something of my life story. And if I were her, I too would have been wary of this yarn-spinning fellow passenger who clearly wanted to impress with his tall tales of travelling the world; of his numerous jobs from working with young offenders, to serving in the church, from teaching, to being a part-time photographer, from sub-editing on a daily newspaper, to working as a maintenance man, from helping establish several churches, to volunteering on a helicopter-relief programme in earthquake-hit Nepal.
“Lies, all lies,” I would have thought, if I were her. “How could anyone have done that many things and still look so young?”
(Of course, I also pried surreptitiously and listened to her personal anecdotes! If nothing else, I can pretend to be polite and interested.)
But seriously. My life has been quite fantastic and I am thankful for the incredible experiences and opportunities I’ve been given. Above all, I am also grateful for all the friends I have made in my home country and around the world; of the youngsters I have taught and the places I’ve been.
I’m told often nowadays that it’s time to grow up and “settle down” – that I need to think about saving for my future. I’m just not sure what that means exactly. I’m not sure I will ever fit into the neat little box with my name and address stuck unchanging on the outside, as my company seems to charge. And I’m not sure I’m ready to stop recounting my outlandish life experiences to unsuspecting, unbelieving neighbours on planes.
Perhaps I will “settle down” one day – perhaps even next month. But for now I just don’t know if I have the courage, faith or patience to do it. Or whether I’m ready to deprive the world of my pleasant personality, my humility and my dashing good looks.