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A Tourist In Rome

“it’s about being kind. It’s about humankind”

You brought me to the river for lunch. A far cry from the Spanish Steps or the Vatican, but instead you showed me life… 

I can still recall the wise and simple fisherman with a thousand stories tucked between the lines on his sun-dried face. Though he is of a foreign tongue I was captured by the excited rhythm on which his tales flowed all the while his eyes gleaming with joy. 

The man from India, with a smile that seemed to stretch as long as the river itself, placed plates he had proudly prepared on the table. The food was particularly good. “I was once a chef at the Sheraton,” he proclaimed with pride, now living on the banks of the river cooking for friends that have become family. 

The old woman at the head of the table, seemingly a matriarch to this collection of unrelated characters, lost her husband, but not her will to live. History hung on her makeshift walls and around her bent shoulders. Years had taken her easy stride, leaving a shuffle, a sharp mind, a healthy appetite and memories to be shared. 

Twelve of us ate lunch that day, I was the only one who didn’t understand what was being said, but I understood much more… 

While driving away, I was moved to tears by my touching experience. I realized the human connection is not a matter of speaking the same language, nor is it sharing a similar style of living, a religion, or a country of origin. It’s having an open heart and mind. It’s not about the stuff we own or that which owns us; it’s understanding that no matter who we are, how privileged or what class system we have fallen into, each and every one of us will one day die. 

I can only imagine the instant I’m confronted with death. I’m sure in those remaining moments, wherever I am or whomever I’m with, I won’t be concerned with status or what brand of shoes I’m wearing… I imagine looking deep into their eyes and clutching their hands close to my heart grasping that last moment of human connection.

That trip to the river reminded me of how important it is to feel alive and to connect to all people. It’s not about your people or my kind; it’s about being kind. It’s about humankind.

Photography by Jonna Bruinsma