My number didn’t come up

Sitting in a coffee shop this morning updating my website a man walked over and apologised for staring (actually I hadn’t noticed) and commented that my hat and dress took him back to a day in the 1960s due to a girlfriend he’d had then for about two weeks.

but what is important to me is people thinking

One of the best things to happen in my own life this year is taking the time to speak with people from all chapters of life and share their stories here on my blog. Often their opinions and beliefs do not align with my own, but what is important to me is people thinking. And, like this one, sometimes a story is told only because you are wearing a dress …

“It was the time of conscription and protests and the excitement of war” he said “that was my time.”

Photo scanned from "Vietnam: The Australian War" by Paul Ham.
Photo scanned from “Vietnam: The Australian War” by Paul Ham.

He told me that the protest that day had interrupted his work commitments and, at the time, he felt angry with the demonstrators.

“My mates and I really wanted to go to Vietnam. We were excited about the war. My number didn’t come up though.”

“How do you feel now about not going?”

“Pleased and grateful; at the time I just didn’t know, but then I didn’t really start to think until I was about 40.”

“How can I explain it? We were like robots sort of. We watched TV and believed everything we were told.”

“Now I question everything.”

“I’m hearing the government say exactly the same things today that they told us. They’ll just go in and fix things. But it’s happening again. It keeps happening.”

“Yeh I never really started to think about things until I was about 40. I never stopped until then, I was always on the go. But I guess I had a good reason for not stopping.”

“Oh yeah, what was that?”

“Well I was born with a defect in my feet and I never learned to walk until I was 9. I had an operation and then after spending all my days lying horizontal or crawling I began to walk.”

“I remember the day I first stood up. It was very strange. It felt like my legs were enormously tall and I was so high I was in the sky. I’d never done it before though, you know … stood up.”

“I felt afraid, I can remember that moment of fear when standing up like yesterday and it was nearly 60 years ago.”

“I even got to go to school too.”

“So you see after that happens you never stop because you’re afraid if you do stop you might not be able to walk again.”

“All the time you were lying down, unable to walk or go to school, did you believe that one day you would walk?”

“Oh yes, my mother and father refused to accept that I would never walk. They never gave up, so I suppose neither did I.”

“Yeh it wasn’t until I was about 40 I started to think, you know really think about things and even question what I believed.”

Before leaving he asked me if I was an activist of some kind and why was I so interested in his story. My reply?

“Because you are an ordinary person and we are all ordinary people though we have different opinions and views. I’m not trying to persuade anyone to a certain viewpoint, my only wish is that people will think and decide for themselves. Plus learning to walk at nine (9) is a pretty inspiring accomplishment.”