A Few Worthwhile Clichés

I’ve always been fond of the idea that clichés have to come from somewhere. I ran into my own clichéd experience today, while celebrating my youngest sister’s birthday. She’s fourteen, but far from your typical fourteen-year-old girl, and she wanted to take some of her friends hiking down at Hamilton Pool.
Because I am home for a bit and hadn’t spent any time with my family yet, I went along. Six fourteen-year-old girls, my sixteen-year-old sister, her friend, my parents and myself all piled in the car and drove down to the park. Of course the younger girls took off, each talking loud enough to be heard over the others, constantly moving on to see the next thing. They were a tiresome bunch, which means a lot because I currently live in a dorm with a bunch of 18-to-21-year-olds who are often intoxicated.
To get away from the younger girls, my sixteen-year-old sister, her friend and I took it pretty slowly, taking pictures and meandering down every side trail. We spent so much time just noticing what was around us, even though it was hot and muggy and we were all wearing jeans. There were fish in the stream if we looked close enough, and tree-like plants whose new branches had petals around them, as if each new branch had freshly sprung from its flowers. We crossed the stream, precariously, and sat on the other side for a bit, watching the other hikers pass on the trail. Because the rangers take such good care of the park, there was no trash to speak of, and if not for the other hikers I would have believed us alone in the pathed wilderness.
When we finally got to where the stream met the river, the younger girls and my parents had been there for a good fifteen minutes or so and were ready to leave. There wasn’t too much to do by the river, so we were ready to go soon as well. As in so many things, the journey was worth much more than the destination. All I got from the river were feet too sandy to put back into shoes and pants with wet cuffs. That isn’t to say the river wasn’t worth visiting– it was much cooler in the ravine and the sand felt good between my toes– but taking my time to get there was definitely worth the experience.
Yesterday, I was waiting for a friend at a coffee shop downtown, sitting all by myself, waiting for the waitress to notice me, and this guy came and sat down with me. Usually that puts me immediately on my guard, but this man was very nonthreatening, despite the fact that he was obviously older than me. He was flirting with me at first, but once he realized I was much younger than he and in a relationship besides, he let it go and pretty soon we worked up an excellent conversation. We talked about relationships, about our hometowns: in retrospect I’m pretty sure we touched on the entire scope of life.
For me, the most memorable part of our conversation is when he spoke to me about the time he spent with monks in Asia, studying meditation, and how they taught him the importance of living in the present. “We can’t taste yesterday,” he said, “we can’t touch tomorrow. Everything only exists in the present, so we should live accordingly.”
That ideology has so many applications. Make everything a learning experience, and live it to the fullest (see what I meant about clichés?). If I pay enough attention in life, sometimes things fall into place. Some call that serendipity. Hopefully I can be good enough to always keep an open mind and live in the present; I don’t want serendipity to be beyond my reach. 
I hope I’ll have the chance to have such a phenomenal chat with a stranger again. We talked for nearly two hours. And you know what the best part about it was? He didn’t even ask for my number.


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