Kids grow up so fast. The last time I saw these kids, they all seem to look so chubby. That was about 5 months ago. Now, home for the holidays, they look leaner and taller. But they are still the mischievous, naughty, playful yet sensitive kids that I know. I sometimes wonder if the next time I come to visit home, they will all look so grown up and act like grown ups - being more shy and "diplomatic" as they become more sensitive to grown-up moods. It is evident that we do need to grow up. But still, life would be more interesting if we nurture that child-like character in us that never ceases to wonder and embrace life with open arms.

This reminds me of a story I heard back in my high school sophomore year.

There were three friends who won a free Safari trip. Upon reaching Africa, the first one complained of the heat, the smell and the sight. The second took a glance, shrugged her shoulders, yawned and said, "Ok, this is Africa." The third, upon seeing Africa for the first time, exclaimed, "Ahhhh! I am finally here! I can't wait to see what is in Africa!"

Throughout their 5 day stay, the first one kept on complaining about the services, the people, the facilities and anything that came across her way. The second always looked around with an air of indifference, not minding about what was going on, not caring to know more, thinking that everything is the same and uninteresting. The third, on the other hand, was always curious to find out more about the land and its people, their ways and preferences, their music and everything else. She knew that this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime offer and may not be duplicated anymore. She talked to the people, tasted their food, observed attentively the animals in their habitat, learned simple survival rules in the wild. But in spite of her lively and ever-curious attitude, she remained polite and good natured. Because of her goodness, she was well liked by those who met her.

Finally their 5 day stay was over. They went back to their homes and were met by their friends and family.

Each was asked a similar question, "How was the trip?"

The first complained endlessly. The second let out a yawn, shrugged her shoulders and in an uninteresting tone replied, "It went well." The third smiled broadly and described with much gusto her experiences in Africa. Everyone listened attentively to her and they felt alive and interested to visit Africa upon hearing her.

After we heard the story, we were asked, "Which character do you like best? Why?"

Definitely, most of us liked the third traveller. Later, I came to realize that the three characters are in us. But I wonder which among these three characters are more evident in us.

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