| Angie Counios

Lessons from a hitchhiker: Part one

Looking for the teacher

Recently I sent a message on a platform that didn't exist in 2000 to someone I didn't know for more that a couple of hours. I reached out to him because I wanted to use his words with permission. On social media I found the name I remembered and sent the following message:

Good morning from the prairies. It was the summer of 2000. I don't know how many people have your name, so this may not be you but it if is you you were hitchhiking outside of Jasper when I picked you up and you were traveling alone. No dog. Just you. You said you had a brother or somebody you were meeting up with...? Any how it's weird what our brains remember. You taught me two lessons.

Lesson number one: Pace.

I was driving along the curvy mountain roads when another car in front of me slowed right down. I got grumpy and then apologized for my impatience. You said "it's not about being in a hurry but about going the pace you want"....Thank you Obi Wan!! Seriously great lesson.

Lesson number two: influences.

You (or the person I picked up 🙂 ) said your parents for obvious reasons had a great impact but there was a group of friends who you'd go to summer camp with and there you became your true self or maybe a self that you could create without judgement.

That struck me because that's how I feel about traveling. You show up somewhere and no one knows you. You can really create any history about yourself. No one knows the difference. There is power in building yourself.

So there you have it. The two lessons...if this indeed was you. If not, then some other dude named Graeme shared some pretty cool lessons.

17 years later

The hitchhiker from 2000 replied seventeen years later. His reply was moving.

A timely message from a past self. It's funny how things seem to work themselves out in their own time. Life seems to have incrementally gotten busier and busier for me with family and a business. Somewhere along the way, I started letting outside pressures set the pace. So thanks to you for reminding me of something I felt a lifetime ago.

I do believe it was me that hitched that ride. My brother still lives in Banff. He's a father now too.

Those friends from summer camp are still among my closest. We've witnessed each other invent and reinvent ourselves through the years as friends, travellers, husbands, fathers, and sons. We've stood for each other at weddings and funerals, highs and lows. I count myself lucky to still belong to such a group. We get together at that camp every spring with our young families and it's amazing to see the boys inside the men: the self reincarnated into a new role and time. I hope that being able to connect the old with the new means we're being true and on the right track.

I'm glad you reached out, it's nice to reflect. I hope this message finds you well.


Although I felt the lessons Graeme shared with me were relevant to writing: pace and influence I think the biggest walk away for me as a writer is that we are offered teachers in all sorts of places, characters we don't forget for one reason or another. Connecting with people and padding my experience with the thoughtful words of others makes life a whole lot fuller.

Graeme gave me permission to share this story and I'm glad I can.

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