I met a most remarkable stranger today.
She approached me hesitantly, the beginnings of a warm smile lifting up the corners of her lips, and said apologetically, 'I'm really sorry to trouble you, love...you know how sometimes you're so scatter-brained, you end up putting the television remote in the kitchen drawer?'
'Um...yeah, I think I know what you mean...' I replied uncertainly. Does frantically searching everywhere for an earring only to discover you're already wearing it, count?
'Well, I'm even worse!' She declared, looking pleased that we had found common ground. I didn't have the heart to tell her I'm not that scatter-brained. But, in a moment that rivalled the film, 50 First Dates, she revealed that she suffered from some form of amnesia which meant that she had to write the events of her day, everyday, or she would not remember anything about it.
Why she told me about her situation so frankly and without guile, I don't know. Complaining about the bad weather would have been a more natural line of conversation to have with a stranger. But I was fascinated by this woman who had decided to embrace life fully, and startlingly aware that, compared to her, I was about as edgy as a marble. Here was someone who took each day as it came, faced its thrills and challenges and recorded them, so that when the next day came, she'd remember what the previous day had been about. For a moment, I tried to imagine what my life would be like if I didn't possess the ability to remember, relive and cherish dear - sometimes outrageous! - memories that can still make me laugh a great, big, rollicking laugh, long after it's happened. It struck me how precious memories are, more so the chance to create new ones with the dawning of each day.
She asked me my name.
'Davida.' I said.
'What a pretty name. I must remember to write in my diary that I met you today.'
And she went her way, nothing of the shrinking violet about her.
It's amazing how the most random of conversations leaves a marked impression and puts things into perspective: to cherish the moments, savour life, enjoy cheap thrills - the smell of freshly baked bread, the first drops of rain on a dusty ground; the crispness of freshly laundered clothes... - and always, always live each day.
And here's the kicker: you don't have to break the bank balance for it to happen. Sometimes you just need more chutzpah than cash. Carpe diem.