Sunday, May 3, 2015


It was a weekend evening in Vientiane and I'd had the privilege of being invited for dinner with a group of expats living and working in the Laotian capital. 

Our table for ten had creamy porcelain plates and shiny silverware, a tablecloth with fringed edges and flowers on the table. Pleasant yellow lamps glowed above us and soft classical music sailed in the air as we placed our orders ; steak, filet mignon, salmon, goat cheese quiche, and more.

They were a diverse bunch, ranging in age from their mid twenties to late forties and hailed from different parts of the globe ; Germany, France, Sweden, etc.

As we immersed ourselves in conversation (and the bread basket) while waiting for our food to arrive, the nice English lady (she told me she was past fifty) whom I had the pleasure of sitting next to shared the intriguing story of her past.

   " I married my highschool sweetheart, studied finance in university, got a good job in a bank as soon as I graduated. We had a house in London. It was perfect. My life was perfect. "

   " One day, he just came home and told me that he'd decided that he didn't want to be married anymore! It came as a bit of a shock. This was about 5 years ago. "

   " We sold the house and I quit my job. I decided to head to Southeast Asia to travel and do a bit of soul searching and reflection. That was how I ended up working with elephants in Laos. I'm happy and I enjoy it now, but I can't say I'll still be here in three years, or maybe even one year. "

   " I always thought I had it all and would be quietly settled and content by now. Ha! Life is so different. Eeach day I wake up and it's an adventure. It's not what I'd expected at 50, but I feel so alive ; I embrace every moment. "

    " Life's too short to be 'what if'ing and 'hmm'ing and 'haa'ing and sitting on the fence. I don't know where I'll be next year, only that I'll get there a day at a time. People ask me what's the plan, what's next ; I tell them that I'll figure it out as I go along. "

   " Young lady, what do you think? "

Well.. I always thought that people pretty much have their lives figured out when they're adults.

Her face crinkled up pleasantly and she wobbled with laughter.

   " Sweetheart, you don't get better at figuring life out as you grow up. "

   " You just get better at pretending you do. "

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