She was pretty old... she looked like she was in her 70's to me but it's possible she could have been a bit younger and just had a harsh life. With her weathered skin and long, wild, frizzy gray hair, she looked like the stereotypical 'hag'. She was missing most of her teeth, but it didn't stop her from smiling a lot.
She always dressed in black. One time at a Beltane day ritual in a large public park, she stripped down to nothing but a black g-string and a black, completely sheer skirt. With cellulite on her hips and sagging old lady breasts, she flitted around that park dancing to the beat of the drums. Mind you, everyone else was dressed-- this wasn't a skyclad event. So you can imagine how she stood out.
She was always alone, but it didn't stop her from joining others, completely uninvited, on their blankets or in their groups-- only she really didn't talk. I don't know if she was mute or didn't speak English, but I never heard her talk. When I tried speaking to her, she'd just smile. She held out her hand to me once and pointed to all the lines. I realized she was asking me to read her palm. I didn't know how, unfortunately; I wish I did, I would have loved to learn more about her.
A lot of people at these gatherings were in their 20s and 30s. There were a lot of eye rolls; a lot of 'Oh, my Gods" and staring and head shaking. She was quite the spectacle.
Some of us, though, thought she was kind of cool, and had a 'you go, Granny!' kind of attitude.
As the years went by, and I moved on and never saw her again, I came to realize what a unique opportunity I missed to get to know a pretty awesome person. She was more than awesome, she was practically a Goddess incarnate. She was doing what I hope I can do when I'm about her age-- embracing life, living her spirituality, and not giving a crap at all how she looked or what people thought of her. She was comfortable with her body. She was bold enough to approach strangers and embrace them. She didn't let language barrier or lack of dentures or social conventions stop her.
I often wish now in retrospect that I'd made more of an effort to get to know her. I wonder about her-- what was her life like outside of the gatherings I'd see her at? What was her home like? What was her back story-- how did she get to that place in her life? I wish I worked harder to befriend her.
My Advice to You Today: Find the awesome in people.
This is especially true of those people that seem completely quirky, 'weird', the kind of people that are often shunned or made fun of. The reason they're treated like this is because they're bold enough to drop the masks that we all wear in public and just be themselves. They're not pretty enough, young enough, popular enough, educated enough, cool enough, or just too different-- the outcasts, the so-called 'losers'. This scares most people, but don't let it scare you. Try to look at them not as a person who isn't fitting in, but as a child of the Gods who dances to a tune no one else can hear.
Some of the most exciting and interesting people you'll ever know are the ones other people ignore because they don't fit the social standards well enough.
And, don't forget-- you're people, too: recognize the awesome in yourself.
Are you uncomfortable around 'oddballs'?