Few people understand as well as my friend Marjorie that life is the adventure you make it. Not in an aggressive, carpe diem, “shall we go to Borneo?” way, but in the genuine, inject a bit of madcap into your average Saturday way.
I wasn’t a bit surprised a week ago, talking about what we could bring for Thanksgiving, to learn that a surprise guest would be joining the gathering of orphans and misfits that has become holiday tradition on our block. How she connected with him after hearing an interview on NPR is her tale to tell and not mine, but the gift of his presence is too much not to share as we head into the season during which it’s easy to lose your bearings.
Imagine yourself at a table full of strangers to whom you are a curiosity shop novelty. Your celebrity stems from your leaving corporate life behind for a few months in order to kayak down the Mississippi River. “What’s your route?” “How did you decide to do this?” “What do your parents think?” Daniel, Marjorie’s guest, couldn’t have been more gracious despite the barrage of questions. Thanks to his gentle humor, in a short while the group fell into the ease of extended family, familiar enough to swap personal tales but formal enough to respect the boundary that protects comfortable conversation.
We learned, among many things, that LibriVox has an excellent, and free, audio rendition of “Life on the Mississippi.” We explored the embarrassment of riches that is chocolate-covered bacon. We tested our hands at inventing a narrative through text messaging and laughed until we cried.
As our table lingering was about to come to an end, I asked Daniel what was the best part of his adventures. “You know,” he said, pausing for a moment, “people are good. Down deep inside, despite all our differences, they’re just… really good.”