53 Days ’til 40: What is His Story?

30 Dec


I have not worked as a counselor in an official capacity for almost four years (yes, it is true that my current job in educational leadership does lend itself to many counseling moments).  That said, I no longer consider myself a counseling professional, I now consider myself a broader “educational professional”.  Yet, I have these moments when I find myself slipping back into that counseling role.  The interesting thing is that I slip into the counseling role in the strangest of places (can you relate?)  It does not necessarily happen at staff or parents meetings exclusively.  Sometimes, I find myself in counselor mode on the weekends or while on vacation – far away from my professional realities.  Yesterday was one of those days.

We were driving downtown and I noticed this older gentleman.  We followed him in our car for many blocks as he hobbled down the middle of the road, uninterested in moving out of the line of cars (or, perhaps, oblivious to the line of cars behind him).  Thankfully, we were in no rush, as it was painfully slow.  There was no one with him and I never did get a view of his face.  Yet, I realized in that moment that my mind could create many narratives for this man.

I could believe he had a loving family and was walking there for lunch, or I could believe that he was a lonely widow, happy to walk in the middle of the road, as he was overwhelmed with depression.  Perhaps he had Alzheimers or dementia and forgot the necessity of utilizing the sidewalk for safety reasons… maybe he is a millionaire, or was a millionaire, or maybe he struggles to make ends meet.

Everyone has a story, their own narrative about how they interact with the world around them.  It is fascinating and humbling to pause for a moment and remember that there are many more stories than our own – and if we do take the time to stop and listen to the multitude of stories that surround us, we will be blessed.

Today, 53 days ’til 40, I am reminding myself to stop and take notice of all the amazing people around me and the stories they have to share.



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68 responses to “53 Days ’til 40: What is His Story?

  1. knittingwithheart

    December 30, 2012 at 00:52

    Only a few simple words, yet they are FULL … “pause for a moment and remember that there are many more stories than our own”

  2. Another Thousand Words

    December 30, 2012 at 02:55

    That image is truly ‘haunting’, 400…and wonderfully done! I often wonder the same about people on the street…what makes any of us what we are now, and how did we get to whatever space we occupy on this lovely planet. If only you could find him again, and learn more, if he was willing to speak…wouldn’t that be a gift? Hope your weekend is going well (obviously, you’ve been utilizing that iPhone a lot…GOOD!), and that this New Year brings all of you many wonderful blessings!

    • 400daystil40

      December 30, 2012 at 23:26

      Thank you, I have to admit I am really enjoying the photo part of this blog….. funny, I hear people complain about a photo a day blog, but I am having to do the photo plus writing – a photo a day only blog would be easy after this! Hmmmm….. not sure what my next blog adventure will be, but maybe photos will be a larger focus! And yes, I have my iPhone with me almost all the time – imagine what I could do with a “real” camera! I actually love the quality of photographs I can get with my iPhone and I see its limitations as a great challenge. I hear there are now some lenses you can attached to the iPhone, but I wonder what they may do to diminish photo quality. I hope your week is going well too!

  3. Hawkruh

    December 30, 2012 at 04:36

    I see a man following the routine of a lifetime, even though the life around him has changed.

  4. walkwiththerabbi

    December 30, 2012 at 05:19

    I relate completely. There is a world of difference between what we do (as in what we do for a living) and who we are (as in what we do for a life)! Happy New Year to you and yours. By the way, I’m always “on call” as a counselor/life coach, though that’s not what I do for a living. Can you relate? I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That’s where my true significance resides.

    • 400daystil40

      December 30, 2012 at 23:27

      Yes, definitely! I can see where you would be a counselor/ coach to many – your wisdom is a gift!

  5. saymber

    December 30, 2012 at 21:16

    There have been so many times I have looked at all the cars at a stoplight and thought about how many personal stories exist in each car….how few will actually be recorded. I can relate to your slipping into a counseling role and I am also a sort of “record keeper.” A lot of times, after speaking with an interesting person, I will write down what they said. Even if they don’t keep a journal, they won’t be forgotten. By writing this, this man will never be forgotten no matter what his personal story.

    • 400daystil40

      December 30, 2012 at 23:29

      Ah yes, I have done similar! I loved reading how you write down interesting things in your journal… I used to keep a journal and have not done so for about five years now……. a journal of random thoughts could make an amazing blog, but would also be a challenge in the sense that it really puts a person “out there” and exposes a tremendous amount of vulnerability.

      • saymber

        January 1, 2013 at 18:19

        I met a woman recently who has ADHD like me and she carries a random thoughts journal with her everywhere and when it’s full she throws it out. It helps her a lot.

        I’ve been journaling personally and publicly since high school. I understand what you say about the public journaling and “being out there and vulnerable” but my view is most of the stuff I put out is what I’m suppose to. I believe we are all messengers to one another and usually what I write reaches it’s intended recipients. If someone wants to hurt me with what I’ve written….that’s what the delete button is for lol! Happy New Year!

  6. thelastsongiheard

    December 31, 2012 at 07:23

    There was a hill I used to visit in England called Sharpenhoe Clappers. You could lie in the grass and watch the world go by – literally – because there was a highway nearby. It wasn’t so busy that the noise was a distraction, but you could easily watch the cars drive by.

    So that’s what I used to do… I’d lie there in the grass and watch all those busy people rush to or from somewhere… and wonder who they were… where they were going… why they were going there… what they did for a living… what their houses were like… who was waiting for them back home… and that’s the kind of thing I did on a summer’s afternoon in England LOL

  7. heartmama

    December 31, 2012 at 10:15

    Is this a true story or imagined? I can’t imagine seeing a man walking down the middle of the street, particularly an elderly man, and not stopping to check that he was okay. I wouldn’t wonder what his story was. I would be compelled to ask and if needed, to help.
    I like the idea of writing something every day based on a photograph. I just may try that sometime. 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      January 1, 2013 at 00:15

      The man is real, the stories, all imagined….. he did not seem distressed at all and appeared to be going somewhere with intention – definitely did not appear to need or want help – was an interesting character! 🙂

  8. Guila Greer

    January 1, 2013 at 20:40

    A great reminder of how rich life is. Happy 2013.

  9. Gardengirl

    January 2, 2013 at 15:26

    That’s a great story to remind us to think before we judge. We never know what someone else’s story is. Thanks for visiting my blog and for the ‘like’. I look forward to reading more of yours. Will you change the name after 40?

    • 400daystil40

      January 3, 2013 at 00:52

      Thank you for visiting and your great comment! I have thought about changing my name after 40… perhaps I will just change the tag line…… I have a little time left to decide!!! 🙂

  10. naykdpoet

    January 13, 2013 at 19:52

    Many such experiences have been inspiration for poems I have written and I am thankful for the opportunity and ability to do so.

    Your role as councilor is not one given by choice but, one given by purpose.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and liking my poem: Defiance Reward.

  11. Sajith

    January 13, 2013 at 20:08

    NIce …that is the reality of world

  12. theofficialTTA

    January 13, 2013 at 20:09

    Thanks for the great post. I, too, sometimes wonder about people’s stories. When I see someone on the street, I tell myself not to be too quick to judge because I don’t know his/her story. In other words, we don’t know people’s “throwness” (Heidegger), so we shouldn’t be too quick to judge!


    January 19, 2013 at 23:03

    My daughter was unable to walk for more than a few steps for a time a couple of years ago and I took her on a driving holiday, we stayed in little B & B’s along the way, a different one each night. Then as we drove the next day we would make up different stories about the lives of the other guests we had seen or conversed with at breakfast that morning, it was quite an interesting thing to do and as you suggest everyone has their own tale about which we can only wonder. I have often thought how many lives we may have been right about. Perhaps we should all give a little more time to others then we would not have to wonder, we could know them for real and share in them. We are all just too busy these days don’t you think?

    • 400daystil40

      January 20, 2013 at 23:11

      Wow, it sounds like an adventure that you and your daughter had. I agree with you, life would be so different if we did take that time to get to know others a bit more deeply.

  14. Iris

    January 20, 2013 at 23:11

    This is such a lovely and poignant post. It made me think of my very first blog post with its awful drawing but it was the same feeling. There are as many stories as there are people in the world… Thanks for liking my blog post ‘Round dance’, I hope to see you back. I will be back, too 😉

  15. Jaton' West

    January 21, 2013 at 11:58

    Or, maybe he was amusing himself by messing with people. I’ve always wondered if the peculiar things folks do in nursing homes has a more humorous side. I can envision a conversation like this. GERTRUDE: Well, Mildred, I think it’s your turn to come up with something to beguile the tedium of the day. Remember last week when I walked down the hall naked? That sure got the staff off their feet quick, fast, and in a hurry, didn’t it? What are you going to do? MILDRED: I was thinking about writing my name in lipstick in all the mirrors in the recreation room, but I’m fresh out of bright red. Can I borrow yours? At least that’s how I envision myself in a few short years…

  16. Stephanie Jill Rudd

    January 22, 2013 at 08:36

    Thanks for dropping by Grannys Pantry and liking our first attempts to pass on life skills.

  17. lillylion

    January 26, 2013 at 02:22

    I can’t believe what a smile can be smoothing over in someone’s day and life…and I agree…listen to those stories!!! Nice blog!

  18. glutenfreeintheoc

    January 29, 2013 at 06:22

    Thanks for liking my recent post!

  19. halinakasia

    January 31, 2013 at 22:04

    I like it a lot and thank you.

  20. tpolen

    February 1, 2013 at 16:39

    Thanks for the like! I do this a lot myself – see people and wonder what their story is. Get some great ideas for books sometimes.

  21. modernteacher27

    February 6, 2013 at 22:21

    Thanks for stopping by the blog! Being over 40 is great, from experience.

  22. vpsasai

    February 9, 2013 at 22:04

    I believe if we boil down our chronicled existence on this earth we get a rich residue of stories. Fact is that is all, just our gospel. The magic is in the retelling; we get to live forever.

  23. giantELF

    February 12, 2013 at 20:56

    Pssst….It’s Frank Costanza lawyer.

    Dig the blog. Great concept. Cannot wait for 18250 days until 50… Or maybe 400 days since 40? 😉

  24. hookandply

    February 12, 2013 at 20:57

    What an intriguing figure and such an evocative piece of writing. It reminds me so much of an old friend of mine in his eighties with a wealth of memories to share if only we take the time to stop and listen. I had two impromptu meeting on my walk today and the opportunity to share thoughts and life experiences for a brief moment in time. I doubt whether our paths will cross again but today they did.

    • 400daystil40

      February 12, 2013 at 22:37

      I love this comment… you were totally in the moment which opened yourself up to allow your path to cross with others…

  25. hookandply

    February 12, 2013 at 23:03

    Yes somehow it felt like that today………I will hold that thought for tomorrow.

  26. 2unpublishedgirls

    February 13, 2013 at 17:47

    Thanks for you like on my post. I’m glad you found me.

    • 400daystil40

      February 13, 2013 at 23:00

      And I am glad you found my blog – thanks for visiting! 🙂

  27. arjun bagga

    February 15, 2013 at 21:00

    Happy to meet you. I am more or less around 400 days til 40. Beautiful!

    • 400daystil40

      February 15, 2013 at 21:43

      Wow – I wish you the best on your journey to 40!

      • arjun bagga

        February 15, 2013 at 21:47

        Thank you! I got plan. lots 🙂

  28. michaelanson

    February 15, 2013 at 21:56

    Thanks for checking out my blog. I really like this post of yours. To me, he looks a bit like Winston Churchill reincarnated. Perhaps? If you don’t mind, I’m going to repost this. Though I don’t write as many blogs as I would like, I would love your feedback, if you decide to add your name as one of my followers. The only question I have for you: what are you going to do with your blog site when you do, indeed, turn 40?

    • 400daystil40

      February 15, 2013 at 22:02

      Ah, what I am going to do after 40 is indeed the question… most likely take a little time off and then start another blog!

  29. jjtoner

    February 19, 2013 at 20:29

    Hmmm! He’s too tall/thin for Winston Churchill imo. 40’s not a lot different from 39. If I had a blog like this it would have to be about 1000 days til 70 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      February 19, 2013 at 22:04

      🙂 – Are you going to start that blog??? 🙂

  30. Harold Knight

    February 19, 2013 at 20:52

    One great discovery of real age (40 hardly counts, by the way) is that one has too many narratives of oneself to tell them all — or even to keep them straight. In fact, piecing together this from that and that from this, one can create a new narrative every day, and none of them is exactly true, but they are all true. I guess that’s what my blog is all about. Thank you for stopping by.

  31. fremont110293

    February 20, 2013 at 04:31

    seeing your blog reminds me of my 39th year. I so dreaded the big 40 I clung to each of the 365 days. Then I woke up on the dreaded day with relief “Good, now it’s done.”

    • 400daystil40

      February 20, 2013 at 20:18

      Hehehe – I wonder if I will feel the same when midnight hits! 🙂


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