My otherness

Living in an economically deprived English neighbourhood sometimes goes like this.

You quickly walk to a local supermarket (for two packets of oat cookies) and on the way, a guy seems to want to stop you to ask for directions. But what he says is “You walk like a young lady.”

He adds “You’ve got youth in your step!”

It emphasises my otherness.

What I have is purpose. What I have is two immediate deadlines on my desk, an online course to make, someone else’s grant proposal about to turn up, and also a research paper in the pipeline. He doesn’t.

In central Oxford, by contrast, most people have my fast pace, many actually walking much faster.

Most of county Hampshire is relatively sleepy to start with. Here where I live, many people have relatively little to do and saving whales is not on their mind when they’re out and about.

I didn’t know what to say back to him, so I simply laughed, taken by surprise.

Because what I also have is the absence of the British notion that people who are over 35 are no longer young. He was trying to make me feel young, but what he did was make me realize that he saw me as someone with one foot in the grave.

I LOL. It doesn’t matter.

Normally, when something like this happens, I’ll say something along the lines of “thank you” but today, feeling flabbergasted dominated too much for that.

Sorry dude. I know you meant well.

This is probably pretty hilarious (read: embarrassing) considering that I just wrote an article on LinkedIn about how we all share more than makes us different but that there is a lot more diversity among human beings than we’ve thought for a long time.

It enriches our lives.

I am sorry that I didn’t thank the guy. It was his awareness of his own mortality that made him say what he said and he saw that as a similarity. He was right.

Thich Nhat Hanh might have said that I didn’t give the guy my presence and that I had not been walking in awareness. He would have been right too.

 

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