The old man with a young smile.
“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” — Aldous Huxley
This story is about my meeting with this old man 2 years ago. It was a 10 mins conversation and it changed my life.
During this time, I was very grumpy with work. I never worked before & having to work specially in a Pizza Restaurant was a nightmare. But looking back, working in this place has been the best part of my life. Meeting everyday people, listening to their stories has been the most exciting part about work. Today I will share with you one of the very special encounters with a very interesting old man. Now I don’t know his name because I never asked for it. I was admiring that enthusiastic beam, that I forgot. I was so mesmerized by his persona, that asking his name didn’t even occur.
It was starting to get evening, and I remember getting ready for the run. Then comes an old man with a crane. He asked for a $1 slice of pizza. “Sir, we do not server slices.”, I said. Looking at his disappointment, I added, “But we do have a $5.99 pizza running today.”. The old man replied, “Really!!!”. That smile popped up. He immediately rushed outside, with his crane. After 5 mins, He comes up with another man & demands the $5.99 Large pie. I was baffled. He paid 2$ for 2 slices and made the other guy pay 4$ for 6 slices. He got his $1 slice and walked away and helping his new friend get 0.67$ a slice.
I was immediately curious as soon as I saw the first smile pop. I knew this man was special. His child-like smile at his age is very rare. Now, this was all before I was self-aware of life & I was living a usual life. Nothing special inside me, same old, dead old. I was observing this person. Big ears, strong voice, cheerful smile, and strong gesture. He communicated with another gentleman in an engaging fashion. Not bragging, not proving, not telling about his day but asking about his. I knew I had to speak with this man & listen to his story. While the pizza was getting ready, I said I was curious about his smile and wanted to hear his story.
He begins by telling his involvement in the Vietnam war. He had lost his friends. He was retired because of his hip injury. He had replaced his hip to allow him to walk again. Now, This person was a veteran living off with a 50$/ week budget as a pension. 50$ a week!!!! yes, 50$. Imagine that. He had his medical expense for his pain killer because his hips were giving him a hard time. He had nobody to take care of him except his wife in an old house. Putting all the adversity on one side, It would get anyone insane. But here was this person Smiling and talking like a child. More excited than 20 years old boy. With more life than me. How could he do that?
I didn’t ask anything like how to live a life? that sort of thing. I knew from within that It’s possible. It’s possible to be happy and joyful irrespective of the outside situations. It suddenly brought everything into perspective. I asked myself, “What would I do at the age of 87 ?”. I didn’t answer the question immediately. I was internalizing it. I was sharing his story with my friends and family. I was just so entrapped by this old man. After 2 years of pondering and asking more question, here I am, with no answer. I honestly do not know what I will be doing when I am 87? If I could, wouldn’t I be cheating?
Now, I am reverse engineering my life. As I am doing this a basic on the question my life comes in front of me. The temporary stay we have on this earth is finite. I look at it this way. If I am going to live till 87, and now I am 22. I will have 65 years to live. That’s 6.5 decades. Now, Breaking the 6.5 decades I will have 3 wonderful decades to live an active and healthy life. Because after the mid-life crisis, a whole new level of contribution and insecurity will cover human expectation. So that means I will have 3 wonderful decades of my life. Now how will I spend my 3 decades? That’s a different story.
Thank you for staying with me till the end. If my perception can give you a better one then I think a did a good job. Lots of love. ¡Hasta luego!
“Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.” — Dorothy Canfield Fisher