Wednesday, July 27, 2011

'Life Experience': the Most Yawn-Worthy Qualification in the World?

Perhaps I should have anticipated it, but her question took me by surprise.

The young, ambitious, unmarried reporter sits at her newsroom desk. Weekends are hers alone to waste. Her wages are spent on partying, updating her wardrobe and bottled water. One morning she receives a dozen red roses. On another she phones her parents for a loan. She is conducting a phone interview with a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary: What did you think when you first caught sight of each other across the crowded dance floor?

I sit at the neighbouring desk, intern reporter, married - mother of three, attempting a mid-life career change. My weekends are spent aside netball courts, in basketball stadiums, catching up on mountains of washing, and driving kids home from late-night parties. I have just concluded an interview with another 50th anniversary couple, and my questions were altogether different: What is the secret to staying with each other after all these years?

Mine is a question born out of the reality of everyday tedium, from seeing some relationships disintegrate and others thrive. But the rich fodder of experience and time reflect on it, is undervalued these days. Instead titillating tidbits are magnified out of all proportion, painting a false picture of reality and breeding unreal expectations.

Now she asks me a question. What have you got planned for the weekend? I am not bitter, but still I let her have it - from early morning sport to the smelly socks.  Her eyes glaze over. Just as I thought. Experience and loyalty bore people to tears. It is no badge of honour. It's not fun enough.

Thank God it is not the weekend that defines me. Luckily time has given me deep roots: the places, the people, the conversations, the books, the surprising encounters, the tragedies and the stories.

Each day I invite the next adventure and wait for it's riches to work on me.

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