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.