Meeting The Old Me Twenty Years Later


I’m paddling a kayak in Hawaii, listening to my guide tell an adventure story. He was out spear fishing in the ocean when a big fish swallowed the fish he’d just caught. The fish then dove, hard, dragging him down with it. But he wasn’t gonna surrender his catch. Not a chance. He barely got back to the surface before almost passing out from a lack of oxygen.

This guy grew up back in the lower 48 and is probably in his late twenties. He reminds me of myself twenty years ago–restless, energetic, pre-gut, bouncing from one adventure to another. He’s a bit more amped up than I was, but he’s not as agro and crazy as the guy who floated on a surfboard in the Arctic, waiting for an iceberg to calve so he could surf the resulting wave.

No, my guide knows to take a break here and there. Hence the job guiding middle-agers up a gentle jungle river.

We drop the kayaks at the head of the river and head off on a trail to see a waterfall. One mile in the guide points to a small stream where water cascades off a small ledge, dropping maybe six feet. He grins at our small group and says “Okay, here’s the waterfall. Oh, did I say 120 feet? I meant inches.”

That’s exactly the kind of line I’d have used at the resort twenty years ago.

We hike some more down the muddy, root-filled trail. My footwear is totally inappropriate and my toes are killing me. We stop by a rock wall and the guide asks “Does anyone know what the original Hawaiians ate?”

I raise my hand and say “Other Hawaiians?”

This is what passes for adventure-seeking in middle age. And it totally works for me.

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4 thoughts on “Meeting The Old Me Twenty Years Later”

  1. This is a great story. I, however, would prefer the kind of Hawaiian vacation where you sit on the beach sipping Mai Tais.

    I would like to take a helicopter ride over a volcano, though. That would be really cool.

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