"Are you a gardener?"
The cute girl loading freshly-made ruby kraut onto the cart eyed my flowered sun hat, bibs and linen shirt, all rosy-peach and gold.
"Do you love flowers?"
"You're going to become a flower!"
"Um!... When I'm buried, you betcha."
I gave her a soft smile, remembering myself at eighteen. So near my beginning, that its ending seemed way too far-fetched to ruminate.
But I had known a few grand-hearted elders, some more full of life than my own strutting vitality! It gave me youthful pause.
What an adventure that could be! And how does it happen---chortles and kindness into great old age?
Inveterate snoop, I looked for commonalities among vibrant elders. A big one would be lithe legs, and lymph kept moving by adventures in the out-of-doors.
Not much TV, plastic or polyester figured in that demographic. Broad brush strokes as a group, they seemed to honor craftsmanship, farms with old walls and orchards, and to celebrate the wild fecund world.
John Muir, iconoclast and earth-steward, still alive in their old, penetrating eyes.
If I were to happen on such an extraordinary Mensch in present time, I made a decision to try to make contact.
I have been plumbed and mentored in stunning conversations... often of small time frame but life-long impact.
The bud of a girl with the ruby kraut watched me meander on. I grinned over my shoulder and sent her a bright all's-well-Lovie-you'll do-fine thought-ball. Which burst into piñata sparkles above her head.
I laughed; she sent me a goofy, puzzled smile.
I went on about my errands, wondering: What finally matters? And is it even worth asking?
...With such a precarious feeling to status quo, pensions and EBT/SNAP card funding in doubt. All the 10,000 things that define us seeming to teeter seismically of a sudden.
I'd just read about a people apart from modernity's consensual madness. Interesting book indeed: Shepherd's, New Self, New World:
"...in the language of the Penan tribe of Borneo---one of the last nomadic rain-forest societies on earth---there are no words to distinguish between he, she or it, but there are six words for we, the pronoun that discloses relationship.
"(The anthropologist) also noted that 'they measure wealth not by the extent of their possessions, but by the strength of their relationships.' "
Now, mentors come in all shapes and sizes. cozy, sleek or lumpy. The smiling charisma of sociopaths, life in the raw, also can represent a life teaching.
(Politics might be a broad hint!)
I once "learned" about astonishing life-choices from a fellow who had invested in a classic gold Lamborghini. Hm!