Catching a cab ride back to the New Orleans airport recently, I was reminded of several important life lessons, and the teacher was my 82 year old cab driver, Eddie.
It was clear that Eddie was nearing the twilight of his career as a cabby and his plan was to turn in his meter at age 85. (In retrospect, I had to laugh at this statement considering how much time I spend helping people race to retire before sixty.) Regardless, when someone is close to retiring, I always like to ask them what they plan on doing with their new found time, and what life has taught them.
Eddie told me he felt blessed by the life he’d lived in Louisiana (69 years of hot and muggy); he planned on continuing to give back to the community by cutting the hair of men at the local nursing home (I guess he was a barber in his spare time too); he made a conscious effort to simplify his life several years earlier by selling his rental properties and cab company because they created too much worry and stress; and he didn’t fret about what others had that he didn’t because as his grandmother told him many years ago, “all that glitters ain’t always gold.”
Have you ever had a conversation with someone like Eddie where the experience is sort of surreal? I was caught off guard by his authenticiy and simplicity of his life. As I flew home to Seattle, these were a few of the takeaways:
1.) How often I have made my life more complex than it needs to be; all for the sake of getting more and achieving more. In many cases, it has given me stress and worry in spades.
2.) How often I’ve taken for granted the blessings in my life, especially living and working in the Pacific Northwest. I have made an intention to appreciate the beauty of this area more regularly and not complain so much about the weather.
3.) How many times I let my desire to give back philanthropically be controlled by my perceived level of financial success instead of as a reflection of my heart and its capacity for love and compassion.
I don’t think I’ll see Eddie again before he retires, but there is no doubt I left his cab more positive and self aware than when I got in.
Here’s to making 2012 a year to remember. Purpose, simplicity, authenticity…..Living fully!
Happy New Year!