A year ago, a stranger smiled and walked up to me in the library. He brought these two scooters – one slightly bigger orange Xooter and the other, blue and silver.
We ended up talking for 3-4 hours. And I spent the night scootering to a New York Comedy Club show and we continued talking till 2am. Fast-forward till today, we remain good friends.
These are the conversations that I hope will stick with me for the rest of my life.
#1 : MAKE “DOING GOOD” YOUR RELIGION
I remembered within the first 30 minutes of meeting Alex, I asked him “what’s your religion?” And his answer was so clear and simple. To align his every action with doing good.
For all intents and purposes, let’s use Timothy Keller’s definition of religion : A set of beliefs that explain what life is all about, who we are, and the most important things human beings should spend their time doing.
Now, we could waste plenty of time arguing what “doing good” is. Or we could just go out there and be good. To the best of our mental and physical capabilities, we can strive to live our last day (aka everyday) without frenzy, sloth or pretense.
#2 : WEIRD IS A SIDE-EFFECT OF AWESOME
I have to admit, when people first meet Alex, there’s likely two ways they’ll respond.
A. Defense mechanism will be triggered – This guy is a wackjob, he could be very dangerous, run now.
B. Receive him with open arms – This guy is refreshingly different. Let’s talk more.
There’s justifiable reasons for both reactions.
Alex is… to say the least, an enigmatic guy who takes on an entirely new perspective on life. Physically, he’s always dressed in the same few clothing. He’s bolder than most people and he speaks on an entirely different wave length.
He is constantly breaking out of social norms. That’s why Category A people fear him. They cannot find a way to label and put him in a box. He is unfamiliar territory.
When you ask Alex what’s his nationality / where he’s from, he will smile and say ” What do you mean? I am a citizen of the world. Aren’t we all?”
To the question “What’s your age?”, he will calmly respond with “Infinity. I am the past, the present and the future. I am a 1000 years old.”
The man doesn’t sleep (it’s true, I’ve texted him at all hours of the day and he always replies within 30 minutes).
He will question your fears and loves and environment and thoughts and vulnerabilities. He will show up and disrupt your routines. If you’re open, he will do everything he can to put you in a perpetual state of discomfort. Who wants that?
Maybe being weird will result in societal rejection. But keep being weird, and soon enough, you’ll inject enough color into people’s lives that they’ll keep asking for more.
#3 : DO SOMETHING BECAUSE YOU WANT TO
“Sorry, I can’t make it tonight, I have to rush X out by tomorrow.” I cancelled on him 20 minutes before we’re supposed to meet and he was already at the lobby. I felt terribly bad that he came all the way here for nothing.
“Why do you apologize for choosing what you want? I came to the lobby because I want to come. Regardless of whether or not you’re here.”
99% of people do this without thinking. The other 1% is lying.
Why do we apologize when we don’t want to attend that party?
Why do we feel guilty when our decisions conflict with that of our friends?
And when we give a lame excuse to why we can’t go, we use words like “I got to / have to do XYZ, that’s why I can’t go” because we’re too scared to admit that we really have better things to do.
I’ve lost count of the no. of times I’ve felt obligated to show up for something that I know I won’t enjoy. Next time you’re not having a good time, make a conscious decision to leave. It’s okay.
#4 : THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE… BUT IT WILL BURN YOU FIRST
Making the hard choice is always difficult.
That could mean finally coming to terms with the emotional abuse and deciding to leave a toxic boyfriend/girlfriend
Or recognizing that you need to shut up and start doing the hard work that’ll ultimately move the needle in your career
Or up and leave the city you’re in to search for a different lifestyle
Whatever fears you have, smash through it. Better to live a life that’s temporarily painful but ultimately yours, than live a life of pretense.