Advice from a Wise Old Man

I don't believe in coincidences. No sir, not for me. To me, life is too short and too precious to not believe that everything happens for a reason. Some things are just too opportune. Wisdom often blindsides us. Sometimes it's that fortune cookie with the perfect message and timing. Some may say that those little scripts are vaguely manufactured in order to elicit such a response but sometimes it's just too perfect. Sometimes it's watching the news and realizing that there was a fatal accident at the intersection you were driving through not more than ten minutes prior. You clutch your chest and think, that could have been me. And sometimes, it comes as advice from a wise, old, weathered man.

Danielle and I had just finished at the gym and I needed some coffee to fuel my all-nighter. I ordered my Pike Place roast with a splash of heavy cream and had my heart set on a dash of cinnamon on top. At first, I avoided the sugar and creamer bar because there was a man there. He looked homeless, he was talking to himself, I was sweaty, had work to do at home, and didn't want to be caught in a conversation. Selfish, judgmental, and mean-spirited. I know. This is an inward struggle that I am working on. After a minute or so of waiting, I decided to go for the cinnamon anyway. Much to my chagrin, as I reached for it, I made eye contact with the man.

"Hello." I smiled. In situations like this, while I may dread small talk, I really do enjoy it once I get into it. 

"How are you?" He asked. "I'm well, and yourself?" I responded.

"People usually laugh at me," he began. 

Oh boy. I thought to myself, preparing to feign interest in this impending one-way conversation. After a few indiscernibly mumbled words, this man said something that blew my mind.

"You spend your whole life working for your damn pension but by the time you get it, you're too broken with arthritis to really enjoy it. You gotta live while you're young. Live while you're young." I stood wide-eyed and mystified. I was utterly beguiled. I've never so graciously accepted an unsolicited opinion from a complete stranger. So flippant in his demeanor yet it was exactly what I needed to hear. This man's words were so simple yet in this struggle to balance a career, make enough money, contemplate marriage, and worry, worry, worry, it was an unforeseen moment of solace. 

While self-discovery is a process and not a single moment, this was certainly a brightly-shining star leading my way. One more piece of the puzzle. More affirmation that I don't need to be rich with money. I don't need to be rich with success in others' eyes. I need to be happy. I need to be rich with love and wonder and things that money can't buy. I've been so down on myself about my job lately. I never feel like I'm doing good enough, like I should be 20 steps further in my career. It's made me lose sleep lately and until recent days, I've realized just how truly useless that propensity to fret is. I hate to be so cliché but youth really is wasted on the young. I often times ignore the things that elderly folks may say but they've been through life and they know how to do it right. They've made the mistakes that I will undoubtedly make. Their drawn-out stories are more like cautionary tales. I wish I could be privy to more of them.

It was such a small moment, so insignificant to everybody else in that Starbucks but it was everything to me. This is my charge to you: take a look around. You never known when, where, or how you may gain some indispensable and much-needed knowledge. Always be vigilant and open-minded.

xo,
e.m.

14 comments

  1. That man doesn't realize how many people he benefited by telling you that and you sharing it. Thanks for this!

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  2. Keep your head up . Just let go and follow your heart . All of your energy should be vested in what makes you the one and only E.R. . Dont let stress rob you of your joy . When i see you i see a woman that should color the world as your voice has for me musically. Ill pray for you dear. Believe in yourself . Struggle is for a season , seasons will come to pass.

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  3. ohmygoodness!! this is just what i needed to read today!!!! xoxoox

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  4. That's incredible and very wise truths. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You're welcome darling! I figured that if it helped me, it might help somebody else as well :)

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  5. As a teen I imaged life would be figured out by now... sadly I'm probably just as lost but now I have bills to pay! haha I don't know if you ever really figure it out but you certainly have to try not to worry about "life" so much that it gets in the way of actual life! I need to start talking to strangers more!

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    1. Absolutely. With the whole "talking to strangers" thing, you basically have to go against what your parents told you growing up. The weirder, the better! Well, maybe not. You're so right about figuring it out though. I'm trying o make my new mantra, "If you're content, you're doing SOMETHING right." After all, weren't we all sort of dropped off here on earth and left on our own devices to sort of "figure it out?"

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