It’s not every day you see a random pirate. Especially in a land-locked, high mountain area. Yet there he was, replete with feathered hat, ruffled pirate shirt, and smart red waistcoat. Then, of course, there was the hook where his right hand would have been, undoubtedly due to an encounter with a crocodile. His Nike swoosh shorts and rugged outdoor sandals lent him the air of a carefree yet practical seafaring brigand.
When I complimented him on his attire, he acknowledged matter-of-factly it was but a costume (ah, but a fine one at that). With one grand sweep, he tugged his hat from his head and offered to let me try it on, and I did, too, though it was nowhere near my size. He nodded, wisely, and agreed that it was too small. With studied seriousness, he pulled me back as I turned to leave. “You didn’t take my picture yet.” I apologized (it wouldn’t do to cross a pirate, after all) and asked him to smile and brandish his hook. He obliged, a gentleman and a pirate all rolled into one.
That encounter made my day of travel effortless. I’m trying to put my finger on why, exactly, that was so. I know, and he knew, and everyone around us knew, that he was a 3-year-old fellow traveler with a vivid imagination and sense of adventure. And you know what? I think it’s because we both approached one another on the same level. I chose to see him as a serious, young pirate. He responded in kind, that serious young scalawag, and we carried on a fully connected conversation in the midst of a 21st century rest stop as if it were an everyday, normal thing to see a young pirate so decked out.
So today, I am infinitely grateful for inner children. Both the inner child happy to be and do and say fanciful things and dress in pirate duds, and the inner child in me who understood the seriousness of the occasion. After all, it’s not often we see real pirates these days.