Purely Simple

November 8, 2008
People intrigue me. I love how first impressions never reveal who a person is unless laughter is included. Forced laughter sounds sickening while the loud, face crinkling laughter comes straight from the soul. I define people that way, put them in categories, and separate the dead from the alive.

I was doing a lot of this during my month-long stay in Medellín, Colombia. Travelling with my grandma had included meeting all of our relatives and all of her friends. There wasn’t a myriad of people because most were genuinely nice and truly lived by the saying, “Mi casa es su casa.” Needless to say, my expectations were high when I reached Carmenza’s house, the inviting home of my grandma’s friend. As usual, food had its place right next to talking, and we were all seated around a small table eating morsilla. I had ingrained the name into my brain to avoid future contact with this blood and sausage dish. It turned out Carmenza’s mom didn’t have a taste for the dark purple food either. After realizing that her mom and I could live with chicken as the only meat source, and that her name was Adela, close to my bizarre, antique name Adeline, we became instant friends.

With some help in translation, I understood most of what she told me about her life. It was about halfway through when she told me she was 90-years-old. I couldn’t speak and just gaped across the table. Maybe Adela’s Dumbo ears or the broad veins on her hands could have said “yes”, but it was her youthful face and omniscient eyes that said “no”. The way she composed herself, with such straight posture and sharp sentences, grabbed people’s attention and made it hard for me to believe that Adela was 90-years-old. Smile wrinkles were the only lines visible, and I began to wonder if it was the lifestyle that made her act so young. Then I even began to wonder if it was the chicken. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that it was her mindset. But then, towards the end of the conversation, a good half hour after we had finished our arepas topped with quesito alongside the homemade hot chocolate, she let me in on a secret.

“Cuando llegue a los ochenta años, yo seguía pensando que yo iba a morirme pronto. Y ahora yo tengo noventa años. Me doy cuenta que pasé diez años pensando en mi muerte.”

“When I reached 80-years-old, I kept on thinking I was going to die. And now I’m 90. I spent ten years thinking of death,” She laughed.

And there it was. The light, feminine laughter, perfectly tuned with sophistication and youthfulness. From these few notes, I knew she was truly one of the people I consider to be “alive”. But what she said right before showed that her laugh seemed to say: “Hey, I’m old and I know that. But who cares? I’m alive today.” In those fifteen seconds, I learned that age really is just a number. No amount of birthday candles can define a person; it is up to the style of laughter to complete that task.

The way I see it, it can be day 33,000 or day 6,500. In order to be mentally alive, people need to know how to slow life down to a manageable pace. Fortunately, time can be controlled in installations of “todays”. After my conversation with Adela, I made a promise to myself. Yesterday was yesterday. Today is today. Tomorrow will be tomorrow. Each day, my only objective on my To-Do list will be full-hearted laughter. The rest can wait until tomorrow, and if tomorrow never comes, at least happiness arrived today.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

princess september said...
Feb. 1, 2009 at 2:48 pm
i tink the article is great and extremely well-written. it is highly inspiring and i have made a promise to myself just like you; that i'll live each day fully. keep writing!
higinio said...
Nov. 23, 2008 at 12:54 pm
I think this article speaks about life in a great, different dimension; it talks about enjoyment of life as it is in a day to day basis. It is a wonderful article for all ages, we can all benefit from it. Go ahead and keep on writting. You are doing a very good job.
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