Here I am, basking in the harsh conditions of a California winter. Yeh, I know the West Coast economy and politics are, for many, less than desirable, but on a day like today, it’s worth the compromise.
I have an ongoing joke with a good friend of mine, a transplant to Pennsylvania, he tells me of the seasons, and I tell him of the warm. I’m good with the warm.
Welcome to the Westlake Promenade, an outdoor shopping center where I am meeting a friend by association, Lauren, the assistant manage at the Enterprise Rent-A-Car of friends from the weeks past.
They are a family in working together, and to leave one of the clang out would just be wrong.
I am first to arrive and after a long day communing with my techno friend, Mr. Laptop, my wrists, neck and shoulders are thrilled to grab a bit of afternoon days end chillage (chillage, I claim inventing the word, but it’s OK if you use it).
For sake of story telling and reference, here is my situation and frame of mind: To the right, a couple students are laughingly studying. Their thick textbooks flashing me back to my high school years while slapping me into a scholastic reality. From the distance, looks like algebra, but who’s staring.
Staring is an understatement, it’s more of a Holly Hell! tightening of the chest. Why the shortness of breath, my kid is nine, we homeschool, and I’ve been deemed, school principle, science and “math” teacher. The dean and science stuff is fun, but Algebra*!*.
Right now, a prep school in Pennsylvania is not looking so terrible. And, to add to this reflection, I was actually tempted several months ago to move to the city of brotherly love, when I came within inches of taking a corporate job in Philly. But thanks to a CEO who has troubles comparing my personality test to who I am, the position dissolved. Well the city was cool; just some CEO’s don’t get the spirit.
Yet, all the way through an extensive two months of phone interviews, face-to-face meetings with a plethora of departmental heads and VP’s, and, yes, bearing the infamous-six-hour personality test, my heart was constantly telling me, “Don’t do it!”
For the entirety of the two months, fear of a downward economy compromised my decision-making and burdened my instinct. I denied my own self-worth and settled for the comfort of a possibly secure income. Not to knock it, would have been nice in a way, but in retrospect, I understand why it was not to be. Forgive my indulgence in publically making the following claim, and I ask you to apply it to your lives as well, “I’m in a better place anyway.”
I was blinded by opportunity, and the universe redirected me to the right decision, “Simply staying put!”
Readers, thanks for allowing me this therapeutic moment, but as sit, waiting for the arrival of Lauren, I found it impossible to hold back this stream of consciousness.
Perhaps its purpose is to bring to focus that many of us are going thought similar trials with work, career or family. But whatever the reason, I guess there is one take away I can share, “Whatever the case, never loose our passion, it will always steer us right, regardless of the difficulties and temptations we endure.”
With this stage set, I am grateful for what I have titled, “The Philly Experiment,” and have used it to commit my life to the pursuit of a new direction for 2012. That direction, I’m calling it “inspired decision.”
I know at this moment, inspired decision applies to all of use. Life experience happens for a reason, and if we weather it well, accepting our pasts, and doing our best to move forward, better horizons “always” open up.
I choose the word always with intent. Intent based on both observations of my life history as well as the histories shared with me from the, now over 200, friends of 365. All who have proven to me that every human possesses a voice deep inside, one that most often tells them who they are, and what they need to do. The tough part, it never tells us why we are here, that is the part, which is very difficult to accept. But the question to explore is “Do we have the courage and tenacity to listen to the who’s and the what’s.”
This question is cornerstone to making the following proclamation; “’Mortality is filled with the good and the bad, and within each, there is reason and potential for advancement. What we do with it is up to us, and, as I previously mentioned, with the right perspective, ‘better horizons open up.’”
And with that, it is my finding that the more humbly we embrace our trials, our victories, and learn to patiently weather the storm of life, a sweetness in our hearts can grow; A sweetness that is cleansing, clearing our countenance and giving us the ability to accept self and co-exist with one another.
And as per Lauren, she exemplifies this proclamation, “My boyfriend and I are learning religion on a different level. We are who we are; embrace it, god created us for a reason. You don’t have to fit into society the way it tells you to. If you want to wear a tutu, wear it.”
My perception, Lauren is speaking of acceptance, living with patience and a loving view of the world.
“God created us for a reason.” My take on Lauren’s religion, “Stay kind, respect each other and look toward the future with open arms.” With this, the reasons will be unveiled at the right time.
Working at a rental car company has given Lauren a macro glimpse of society, experiencing both the shining and darker examples of man.
“People need to relax, it’s just a rental car, and I’m here to help you.”
Lauren tells me of the rudeness that many express as they rent their vehicles. Her philosophy in dealing with it, “No one is perfect” and “Patience is a virtue.”
She asks us all to remember, “Next time you are wanting to react negatively towards a person, think about this, “They are your neighbor, They are a human being, They are in your community.”
Again Lauren speaks of acceptance, using this quote from one of her favorite authors, Kyra Davis: “Man cannot improve on God’s creations. When we try, we get things like Hairless dogs and “cheese” that you squeeze out of a can.”
I ask Lauren about her desires for the future:
“Wow”…She contemplates, “I have no idea.”
After a short pause, her composure is regained, “A good president, people out of debt, not living paycheck to paycheck, and the ability to have real vacations – like in Australia. Anything that will help us all to not be stuck, but to live a little bit.” She hums the Supertramp tune.
I’ve looked at Lauren’s Facebook and cannot ignore one more of her favorite quotes,
“There’s been a time for war, a time for strife, a time set aside for everything under the sun. We must now set aside a time for love” -Stevie Wonder
This Stevie Wonder revelation sums up Lauren in one sentence.
Strife is no stranger to Lauren. Towards the end of our interview she opens up a life experience.
“My sister overcame a drug addiction, it was so hard on my family, but she is past it now and happily married with two children.”
Her call to us is matter of fact, “Don’t do drugs! Especially hard drugs!
They not only destroy your life, but the lives of your whole family.
ADDICTION IS BAD!! PERIOD!
We speak of trust, “If you can’t trust the world, find one person to trust, and when you need them, turn to them. We don’t need to be alone.”
In closing Lauren gives us an action item.
First ask yourself, “Are you completely satisfied – always.”
“If not, at least make a list, and check it off as you go.”
All right, I’ll add one more thing to my list, “Learn Algebra.”
Lauren, see you next time I rent. “How much for the Ferrari?”