Life happens. And sometimes? IT SUCKS.
This past January, I took a trip to Portland, Oregon for my birthday. I’d just experienced some crazy things & I decided that I really needed to leave. I had to do something for myself for once. I needed to feel like I wasn’t being suffocated. All I wanted was a change of scenery. A breath of fresh air.
My friend & I stayed at the Society Hotel in Old Chinatown. It was a quaint, hostel style place that used to be the home for many overseas sailors back in the 19th century. Restored & renewed, it is now the home for many adventurers. Like me! Rumor has it the place was haunted! And knowing me, I’m easily startled. But I’m a sucker for history & local spots!
Down in the lobby sits a small cafe next to a cozy fireplace. Five bay windows let in as much light as possible considering the gloominess of Portland. At the end of every day, we’d head up to our room and shed the layers of that day’s adventure. Then we would make our way back downstairs to relax by the fireplace— journal, listen to music, and my favorite pastime of all, people watching.
One busy night, I was sitting by the fire, watching the embers float up into the air and disappear into the blackness that surrounded the room. Suddenly, in walked an old man wearing a trench coat. As he walked up to the cafe counter, I noticed he was soaking wet. I looked out and it was pouring. He walked up to where I was sitting, coffee in hand, and a deep rumbling voice asked, “May I sit here?"
I politely gestured to the leather couch in front of me and with a deep sigh of relief, he sat down. Not a minute had passed before he started the conversation. A lot of random talks until I asked him about what he does for a living. And I will forever remember what he said to me.
He told me that he used to be a psychology professor here at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He always knew when he was in high school that he wanted to be a psychologist. He grew an interest in it because of is father. After graduating with his masters degree, he went on to open up a clinic of his own. But something still didn’t feel right. He was happy, definitely. Something was missing. He realized that even though he loved what he was doing, he wasn’t passionate about it. And isn’t that what being happy truly is? It’s about more than just loving what you’re doing. It’s loving it so much that you’d be willing to get through the bad days that come with it. Being able to take the heat and dealing with people who shoot you down along the way. So here he is eight years later doing what he’s passionate about. He’s a writer. A photographer. An avid coffee drinker! And believer in doing what makes your heart jump just little more every day.
The advice he gave me was to go out and find something that makes your body feel like it’s on fire. Once you’ve found it, help it grow. Don’t doubt what you can do. Don’t compare your success to the success of others— comparison is the thief of joy. Be open-minded. Accept the mistakes and be fearless. Get back up when you fall and know that you’re doing the right thing for you. You can be the best, most successful surgeon in the world. But will it mean anything if you’re burning desire to do it isn’t there? Absolutely not.
His coffee was nearly gone and the fire grew smaller. He greeted me goodnight, put on his now half-dry coat to continue his amazing life that had only just begun. He mentioned that he didn’t regret starting his life so late. At least now he was able to live the rest of his life knowing he was genuinely happy. He wakes up everyday not worried or wondering. But just living. And so he urged me to start now. Start early while I have the time. Find my passion. Dig deep and let me get to know me just a little bit more. With that, he waved goodbye and left.
We plan and plan and plan but… Life happens. We need to grasp that. You can take ten steps forward but you’ll always have to take two steps back. It's just the way the cookie crumbles. But should we take that as a sign of failure? Should we left a few bumps in the road pave our future? Of course not! Be impulsive. Explore the things about you that you never knew existed. You’ll never know if you never try.