Life kicked your ass. You just lost a fortune in the stock market, your sweetheart left, and you were recently diagnosed with prostate cancer…
This happened to a friend/mentor of mine years ago.
What was once the centre of his universe – his health, lady and wealth – had all vanished in a calendar year. So when I flew out to his mansion, which he later sold for financial reasons due to the market losses, for a weekend of catching up about three months after all this had happened, I was shocked at his demeanor.
Going into the trip my intention was to lift his spirits with some of the good ol’ days conversation fellas often have. And if need be, provide a pillar to lean on…
At the airport baggage carousel waiting for my luggage, I was welcomed with a massive bear hug and laughter. My friend was beaming with an ear to ear smile. It was an unforgettable smile – true and genuine happiness.
I hadn’t seen him in nearly a year, and the last time I did he was on top of the world of finance. At this moment, he was at the proverbial bottom, as explained above, but you couldn’t tell by looking at him. He had lost about 80% of his wealth, among the other more important issues mentioned, yet I had never seen him so peaceful-looking. On top of that, he had shed about 20 pounds thanks to a rigorous workout program he started after all the shit hit the fan.
Surely he was putting up a front, I remember thinking. I expected the truth would come out about how he was feeling when I had been there for a bit. So I recommended we go down to a great bar near his house and have a couple brewskis to get caught up. My main reason for flying out to see him was to lend an ear and support my buddy in a tough time, after all.
Throwing my bag in the trunk of his 911 Turbo, he threw me the keys and said “I know you want to drive. Let’s take it out to the farmlands.” No hesitation from me.
Whipping down an empty road, I hit some kind of bump and the car bottomed out slightly. “Shit”, I said, “my bad.” He is a car enthusiast, and I knew his Porsche was by far the favorite sports car in his collection. However, he was unphased by my somewhat reckless driving and told me to keep pushing the pedal down. Needless to say, it was a fun drive from the airport back to his house.
After dropping my bags off at his palatial home, we started the 5 minute walk over to this cool bar surrounded by white pines which sits on a little peninsula by a river.
He was a regular at this bar, and upon arriving he deliberately made an effort to greet at least 3 of the staff working, engaging them in real conversation, not just a hello. I could tell then and there that this ‘happiness’ was not a front. He was a man who had discovered something valuable in all the turmoil and loss he had recently experienced. What it was, I had no idea.
After our first pints came over, I just flat out asked him “Dude, what the hell? I’ve never seen you this relaxed” – he cut me off.
“I know where you’re going with this Aaron, and it’s okay to ask. But let me just tell you: I’ve had a lot in my life, and I’ve lived through times where I had very little. My life appeared to be on the right track, but I was veering off course last year. I couldn’t be alone and happy back then. I always wanted to be distracted for some reason. It was only a matter of time. And being as stubborn as I am, the Good Lord knew it couldn’t just rain, it had to pour to make me wake up.” He took a sip of his beer, and continued: “I am blessed, brother. For the first time, I enjoy the moments when I’m alone. Life can come and go very quickly, and if you’re not paying attention, it’s a blink. I’m paying attention now, and seeing things in everyday life that I’ve never even noticed before. It’s a great world. He is everywhere.”
My friend paused, probably to see if I was following exactly what he was saying… he concluded, “You have to look beneath the surface, and when you do you’ll see there is always tremendous intrinsic value in unfortunate circumstances.”
And with that, he insisted we talk about my family. He wanted to know every little detail about how my son, Logan, was growing up.
Have a great Easter. He is risen!