Today I decided to camp out at Starbucks to work while I’m visiting Denver. When I walked in, it was packed! Every table was occupied except for the one’s outside because it’s January and it’s Denver… Luckily today wasn’t TOO cold, so I sat outside until I recognized some people leave who had been sitting inside and quickly grabbed the last available inside table.
Not 5 minutes after I got settled and prepared for a productive afternoon, an older gentleman walked up to me and asked, “Would you mind if I sat with you while I drank my hot chocolate? I’ll move to another table once one opens up…” Out of politeness, I of course made room at my table for him to join me.
Right when he interrupted me, I was in the middle of jotting down some notes and task-items that I needed to get done today. I believe most people my age would have just pulled out their laptop or plugged in their head phones and dove into their work while letting this older man sip his hot chocolate and wait for another table to open up, with little or do conversation. Not me.
Even though I initially felt inconvenienced by this older gentleman, I have a deep belief that everything happens for a reason. So, I finished writing down the thoughts I was in the middle of, packed away my stuff, and decided to give this nice man my undivided attention for a few moments.
Through casual conversation and genuine interest, I found out this man is a retired veteran and served our country in the Army for over 20 years. I got the low-down on all the places hes been, lived, and some of his personal history. At 76, he had just recently moved to Denver for no reason other than he felt like a change. I thought that was pretty cool because by the time people reach 76 years old, they typically do not particularly appreciate change like that.
About an hour into our conversation I had found out that he had never been married, doesn’t have kids, and was a 76 year old bachelor. Our conversation gradually shifted from superficial talk about travel and cars, to talking about life.
One thing that I value and recognize in my elders is life experience. Since I’ve really only had the opportunity to know one of my grandparents–two grandparents passed before I was born and one of my grandfathers passed when I was just three years old–I don’t often have the opportunity to gain life-wisdom that only comes with white hair. 🙂
By this time I had sucked down both my Venti Iced Vanilla Coffee and Venti Ice-water and needed a refill on my water. However, before I got up, I asked my new friend, Ray, a question.
I asked him a deep question, about life.
I asked him, “In your opinion, what is a life well-lived?”
I gave him a few moments to think about his answer as I got up and walked to the counter to refill my cup of water and then returned to the table we were sitting at.
I love asking people older than myself this question because I almost always get a response with a unique perspective on life.
Ray’s answer to my question was very powerful and refreshing.
To summarize his response, he essentially said that a life well lived is a life dedicated to serving other people. He added that chasing things you think will make you happy, will never give you the fulfillment you are looking for. True happiness and true fulfillment is a by-product of what you do in serving to other people and doing something or being a part of something bigger than yourself.
Now, if you’ve been receiving my e-mail updates for a while or you’re a member of my Inner Circle Mastermind Group, you know that this is my exact philosophy and perspective on happiness, purpose, and fulfillment. I’ve written about it in past blog posts and I have even already created an entire section of a new product (Being released this year!) to this exact topic.
Needless to say, I thought his answer was powerful and it was refreshing to hear that all of Ray’s 76 years of life experience directed him to reach an almost identical perspective of fulfillment and happiness as my own.
Our 2-hour conversation was full of wisdom and insight, and there were several moments where I felt like I was sitting at the table with a potential version of myself fast-forwarded 50+ years.
Ray impacted my life today and I let him know that.
And to think… it all started because the particular Starbucks I decided to visit today was a little to small, and a little too busy.
Life’s full of surprises if you allow it to surprise you.
Until next time, be incredible, think positively, and do something today you wouldn’t do yesterday.
Michael R. Hunter