The cruise ship was crowded with people off for three days of pleasure. Ahead of me in the passageway walked a tiny woman in brown slacks, her shoulders hunched, her white hair cut in a bob.
From the ship's intercom came a familiar tune - "Begin the Beguine." And suddenly, a wonderful thing happened. The woman, unaware anyone was behind her, did a quick and graceful dance step - back, shuffle, slide.
As she reached the door to the dining salon, she re-assembled her dignity and stepped soberly through.
Younger people often think folks my age are beyond romance, dancing, or dreams. They see us as age has shaped us; camouflaged by wrinkles, thick waists, and gray hair.
They don't see the people who live inside.
No one would ever know that I am still the skinny girl who grew up in a leafy suburb of Boston. Inside, I still think of myself as the youngest child in a happy family headed by a mother of great beauty and a father of unfailing good cheer.
And I am still the romantic teenager who longed for love, the young adult who aspired to social respectability - but whom shall I tell?
We are all like the woman in the ship's passageway, in whom the music still echoes. We are the sum of all the lives we once lived. We show the grown-up part, but inside we are still the laughing children, the shy teens, the dream-filled youths. There still exists, most real, the matrix of all we were or ever yearned to be.
In our hearts, we still hear "Begin the Beguine" - and when we are alone, we dance.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life, you will have been all of these.
- George Washington Carver