Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

Know the difference between “weird” and “interesting”?  About 40 years.  As a child, when anyone was different, they were weird.  The weird scale ranged anywhere from being polite to their younger sister to having yellow, green and blue hair with 42 piercings in their left earlobe alone.

Now that I’m becoming a “seasoned” Baby Boomer, I find my friends more interesting than weird.  However, if I met a 61 year old with yellow, green and blue hair and 42 piercings, that still would be weird. And I would stay away. 

My wife and I recently visited two special friends in Sedona, Az.  They have successfully transitioned from having high-pressure careers to being a couple that routinely collects interesting friends.  Partly because they are interesting themselves and are individuals others want to know.  But, also because they’re open to other people having different traits.   Let’s focus on one situation that makes my point.

One evening, friends came over for dinner, including a 73-year-old lady who is five-foot-zero “and not one millimeter more” and has the energy of a locomotive rushing down a mountain, as well as a smile as big as the west.  She is a former nun, current Buddhist, and the widow of an attorney who argued five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Interesting enough for you so far?

Our friend, Karen, and the locomotive, Marilyn, went on a hike recently.  “Not a long hike,” Marilyn said, “only six and a half hours.” I laughed, because it was obvious she was teasing.  She wasn’t.  She talked about the strenuous hike they took with Bob, a trained guide (do not confuse that Bob with me, please).  They were descending the rocks and got to a narrow ledge.  I don’t know how narrow. Imagine something tiny. To go down safely, it was best to lean back securely against the wall of the rocks and reach out with a hand or foot to steady yourself against the tree that rested between you and space.  As the locomotive was figuring how she could grow enough to touch the tree, she watched as Bob slipped and fell 18 feet. She heard his head hit the ground.  You can breath.  He eventually was able to walk away from the accident without major problems.

Forgetting the ledge and the tree, Marilyn scooted down the rocks to her friend and held his head and made certain he was OK and safe.  “He was just a youngster,” she explained.  “Sixty-one.”

“That’s my age,” I gasped.  Another “interesting” character at the party, Jack, said, “Bob, you’ll have to go with them next time.”  I thought bad thoughts about him.  Marilyn and Karen then teased, “Yea, we want you to go with us.”

“I’ll be glad to go,” I answered quickly.  “I’ll stand at the bottom and shout up after you ‘Go girls, go.  Go girls, go!'”

It occurred to me after our visit that these people don't see themselves as all that interesting. They’re just normal people living fulfilled lives. I want to introduce my grandchildren to these characters. “Look carefully at these people.  If you love life and take it by the hand, you might be that interesting one day, too.”

Date of Blog Story: 
May 29, 2008

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