It’s 6 o’clock in the morning and the receptionist of the Indian beach resort promises to get the gate towards the waterfront opened upon my apparently unusual request for beach access at that time of day. Now? Now. Like we discussed yesterday already. Some of my guests want to enjoy the early morning hour by the sea observing the fishermen coming back with their catch.
While I’m strolling the couple minutes which are needed to cover the distance between reception and beach I figure the guard located directly beachside might have done his job by the time I get there. But something tells me, that he and I will anyway be far too late for the determined pair of somewhat eccentric German seniors I enjoy travelling with these days.
And sure enough the image that unfolds in front of my eyes when I approach the gate only minutes later is that of 65-year-old Ursula climbing the nearly 2 meters high fence to get where she wants exactly when she wants. It is relevant to know though that some 6 days earlier in our trip she had partially fractured her fibula. Not at all while we were crossing one of many streams or navigating down our way from 2.640 meters high Meeshapulimala in pouring rain on slippery trails. No, it was on her way to reception to check out of the hotel. Loaded with one backpack each side back and front, going down the stairs, quite consequentially ignoring the convenient elevator since it was occupied and waiting would have occurred.
As a result she missed three out of three trekking days, but was apparently more than ready to take it on with the odds on day 6 after the fracture. Her faithful 66-year-old husband indicating her just now where to step for a smooth scramble over the gate, he himself already on the other side of the fence. Looking at the scene I once again realise how energy in humans must indeed be a commodity without limitation and that I certainly shall not wonder nor worry about older age and retirement bringing any sense of inert depression or stale boredom.
As abundant as their highly extroverted energy is the unapologetic curiosity of the pair and their relentless willingness to question each one and everything with an excruciating love for detail. EVERYTHING. That fence was not the only edge they had led me to during the two weeks of our shared journey through Mother India with her plentiful contradictions in all aspects of life and for Westerners hard to accept version of equanimity. Challenges just about everywhere for an inquisitive Western mind…
Nearing the fence that early morning in Kerala I’m contemplating how being a tour-guide is really the most beautiful combination of being a parent (no matter the age and status of the “fosterling”), a teacher and educator, a counsellor or consultant, a nurse at times and an entertainer always.
“They don’t need to like me”, said a colleague a couple weeks back when we trained on the safe grounds of an Alpine meadow for managing first aid scenarios while hiking in the high mountains. “I just need them to be safe”, she said.
Well, the parent in me sees massive doubts rising in regards to the latter goal while watching Ursula swinging her barely taped broken leg over the nearly 2 meters high barrier. At the same time my heart is swelling with lightness and joy when hearing them giggle like teens on the run. Half child myself, purely feeding from the sweet moment in the blue morning light.
It hits me how I love that job and all these marvellous humans crossing my path in the process. And how life has magnificently trained me for all the standard scenarios. Tour-guiding is fully playing into all the psychological strategies the little self has developed over its early decades: the Parentified Child, Ms Nice Girl, the Not-Good-Enough in a strong team with the Pretending-To-Know-It-All-In-Order-To-Survive. Guiding a group is the perfect mirror to eliminate any remaining obscurity in these departments. Much like an intense insight meditation – minus the sweet silence and the relaxation. ?
But the unexpectable inspiration is boundless and the lessons intense. The empathy and the respect for the humanness ever-growing. What remarkable beings we all are!
Thank you, Ursula, for deeply rocking my world! Keep on climbing all the fences you encounter until you decide not to. ?