Last weekend, the day before I was due to leave Brisbane for the drive home to Sydney, I went on the XXXX Brewery Tour at the famous Castlemaine Perkins brewery in Milton. I’m not too much of a beer drinker to be honest, but I am fascinated by large industrial workplaces. It’s one of the many touristy things I’ve always wanted to do while I actually lived locally, but never got around to doing.
I chose the “Brewery, Beer and BBQ” tour. After we’d finished the walkthrough of the premises we were all treated to four beers at the bar and a freshly cooked barbecue.
I’d gone on the tour alone, and out of the group of about 20, there was another guy who had also come along by himself. He ended up sitting with me for the barbecue and we got talking. You know when you meet someone who inspires you and makes you think to yourself, wow, what an awesome person this is?! He fell into that category.
His name was Alan.
He was from LA. Supported the Lakers.
Initially I thought he was in his early/mid 50’s. It turned out he was 67.
He’d been a school teacher for the past 30 years and had only recently retired.
He travelled through Australia back in 1996, and was now on a return trip 15 years later, retracing his steps to see if much had changed, and visiting some of the country that he didn’t get to see last time.
His trip was going to culminate in December in New Zealand, where he’d booked tickets to U2 in Auckland. He’d already seen them about eight times in the past.
Over his lifetime he’d set foot in 104 countries.
He refuses to stay in a hotel, and has only ever opted for accommodation in youth hostels. That way he gets to meet people.
All his friends back at home think he’s crazy.
He lives to travel, and has no plans to slow down any time soon.
We spend about an hour drinking our complementary ale and chatting about all kinds of things, from beer to travelling to iPhones to Lady Gaga. He was such a cool & friendly guy who was genuinely happy to be alive, with the world at his hands, and living life to the maximum capacity. There is no way at all that he had the mindframe of a 67 year old – he was as youthful and full of zest as any one of his past students would have been the day they graduated from high school at 17 years of age.
If I could be half as active and happy as Alan when I’m his age, I would consider my life a success. He proved to me that there is no such thing as growing old, if you don’t want there to be.