Courage as You Age
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Courage as You AgeRiding A Camel at 60
Heart pounding, breath held, I slip my foot into the stirrup and swing my other leg over, astonished to find myself successfully seated. It’s hard to describe the strange, undulating and privately painful experience of riding a camel: jostled on a moving rock. Three of us head up a sand dune, following our guide who definitely had a few drinks of airag, fermented mare’s milk, before we set off. This is not your standard safety-belts-take-care-of-the-tourist kind of excursion. Those cost a small fortune in Outer Mongolia. This is a cheapy trip booked at the end of my six-week stay in that wild and beautiful country, birthplace of the alpha of all males, Chinghis Khan.
I can see the vulture at the top of the dune. He’s hopping about and shaking his raggedy black wings. Is he dancing with delight at the sight of a few hapless foreigners? Do he and the guide have an understanding? I’m growing more anxious by the minute. My camel isn’t happy either. He opens his mouth and lets out a roar. Is he ready to bolt or fight? I can see the headline in the news back home: Irishwoman in unfortunate camel/vulture incident in the Gobi.
Luckily I have a smattering of Mongolian thanks to lessons on YouTube and I shout enough “uuhgwee’s” – no! no! no! – to wake up the guide and make him change direction. A muscle-sore hour later, we are feasted by a nomadic family in their ger. (They prefer not to use the Russian word yurt for their moveable, round tent of a home, as they are now 20 years free of communism and the Soviet Union.) We eat hunks of mutton from a big metal bowl set in the middle of the table and drink suutei tsai, milky tea brewed with salt. No time to be fussy or a vegetarian.
That I am enjoying this madcap experience at 60 years of age is something that pleases me no end. An adventurer all my life, I worry sometimes that the best is behind me and that I’ll go no more a-roving. Given that my mother is still travelling at 90, I need hardly worry! But there’s no denying that a kind of nervousness creeps in with age, an attachment to the familiar and the comfortable, a hesitancy that makes us pull back from the sort of thing we jumped into when younger. It is vital to resist these tendencies to diminish our own lives. Even as young people must draw on all the courage they can muster to propel themselves into the broad vista of life, so must we, as we age, maintain that courage to stay out on the grand highways and byways as long as we can.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. -Anais Nin