I’m taking a train across Canada for the next three and a half days. The median age on the train is somewhere between 67 and 89.
I’ve already met people who lived through the World Wars, lived in Toronto when the population was under a million, and someone who used to own a 57,000 acre farm. I think there are cities that are smaller than 57,000 acres… Old people are friggin amazing.
The older we get, the easier it is to believe that we have certain things figured out. And talking to older people teaches you (or at least, teaches me), that you don’t know shit. Whatever hardships you think you’ve gone through, they’re not harder than the ones you’re yet to go through.
But before you feel like a complete waste of a person, their stories also serve as an incredible reminder of how resilient humans can be.
The way they talk about their passed significant others, with a look of reminiscence — telling a story from the corners of their memory, with a laugh that is clearly the product of an inside joke that no one currently listening is in on. They also remind me that happiness is always a choice — not a destination dictated by circumstance. Oh, and that you can be 85 and still walking 10 miles a day.
Incredible facts guaranteed to make you feel grateful today:
- Travelling from Toronto to Taiwan in 1952 needed 4 layovers for gas.
- Siblings who got separated from the war, didn’t see each other until 12 years later.
- Being born of German descent in Taiwan in the 30s risked getting beheaded.
When people ask me why I like to travel so much, it really boils down to one thing: Gaining perspective. You learn so much, and 99.9% of the time, you end up with more gratitude than when you started.
As an overall principle, it’s good practice when you meet people who have lived 300% longer than you — to just shut up and listen :)