Like an ad campaign designed to penetrate on multiple sensory levels, daily we are bombarded with information. It is that one rare, random message that seeps into one's consciousness, making you want and need more of what is being sold.
It is that one person you meet who shifts your inspiration toward living.
Recently I was introduced to such a rare soul. A rather lost soul in the sense of a runaway train -- totally out of control, on high speed, making decisions on instinct, inspired from success breeding success and how images of that success manifested will pay off later. He's all in, he has bet it all, and there is no stopping him. It's almost frightening to watch. The risk is huge. But so is the payoff.
Part of me says, get out of his way. Let him go, let him blow past me, but I don't; maybe I will pause him enough to teach me something, share a secret, take me with him.
This man is all of about 160 lbs in a non-imposing frame of a body, about 5 foot 9 inches, cut with tightly defined muscles, model-beauty in a physical form he doesn't even realize. His personality is alive and overtakes any physical dress, enhances beyond colors of a carefully chosen suit coat and tie.
Watching him think is entrancing. I want what he is selling.
And yet here's the thing: he isn't selling anything. He is leading, he is living, without permission, without apology. And I want to live like that too.
One of the first flurries out of his mouth was of his lack of boundaries. Personal, professional, they are all mixed. He laughed (though not heartily) when explaining this, a matter of fact, using his sweeping hands to animate how mixed up borderlines can become without margins.
I have often said this of myself. I have been told it is a negative attribute in my professional life, blurring the lines.
We have this major personality trait (and a few others) in common -- each so far from the ordinary -- and yet, HE is ALIVE and I am only watching. What makes him allowed and me contained?
As he is spinning, I am oscillating.
We each studied (almost nearly failed) liberal arts in undergrad, a flair for the dramatic, both wrote compositions that were questioned as dark, slightly on the edge, delved into behavior that rode a fine line. "Middle of the road," my mother would say to me, "why must you drive on that edge all the time?" Risky stunts, back then, feeling indestructible. The amount of alcohol I consumed in college could have easily killed me.
When exactly did I choose to be safe? Perhaps when motherhood overcame any other natural drive, or ability to choose solely for myself. Maybe that is only my best excuse.
I still wonder though, how is it that a basic likeness of two beings has the ability to morph into such extreme ends of a spectrum today? The reverse of moderation in his world, undemanding blandness in mine.
What he does as a career does not matter. It is all one with breathing. And that is the point.
There are not enough hours into the morning, or bottles of wine in a case,
to absorb it all immediately. This will all take time, learning. I
want to know so much more right now. And perhaps, so does he.
In the dark of 3 a.m. on a weekend night, it seems totally possible to grasp, analyze, to feel the realization of an epiphany. He is nearly suffering with weight of responsibility, believing there is no choice but to succeed or lives will literally fall. We understand in that moment, he is truly a rare combination: an artist in a business realm... applying emotion where there usually is none, porous in a hard world. It takes so much energy, and talent, and faith -- confidence -- to be personally accountable for the livelihood of his own, while taking other capitalists to their knees.
How amazing to be that free.
And though, he says, while it looks like freedom to me, in ways it is a prison cell. The risk is high, the payoff huge.
I wander, drift in my thoughts, wonder how long he will be able to
coexist with himself. Will he lose more weight? How much more sleep
can a man sacrifice? Perhaps I just worry, and he just keeps getting
out of bed in the morning wanting to do it all again.
As I simply show up for my 8 to 5 job, squelching any creativity or avoid risking any security that may impact lives around me, he goes 14, 15, 16 hours a day, on gut. And wins.
I won't change the world, or even make it better, by sitting safely boxed between walls. What WOULD I do, if I truly believed I would NOT fail? Live large. Live out loud. Be on plan, be on purpose. Not just show up. Not be safe. Risk.
I would blur the lines more.
But back to 3 a.m. and epiphanies. My inspiration today has not been from learning hints of his greatness, no matter how large this man is or becomes in a professional sense. I am inspired by seeing glimpses of his heart: so generous and giving, wanting of love not acceptance of who he is but what he has to offer. A warmth and normalcy of a truly good man, humble but thankful, thoughtful but driven. Unassuming but ferocious. A grateful generosity so personal it is amazing to see it coexist in such a cold hard driven world.
I cannot explain to you the dichotomy of his passion. And I haven't even begun to assemble a complete picture.
For now I have what I have been given, so much in so little time. How many others know what I know? For now I must be thankful for the gift, respect it, and let him go, without restraint, into the night.
I have the memory of undulating story after story, the rise and fall of a melodic voice, details and words, expressions and grins and shadows of sadness -- all a blessing, in that I was the one in that moment with him to hear it. We were there, together.
And it was but a moment.
I may have dreamt it.
But the message reached me.
Yes. It felt THAT important. And I just don't want to ever forget.
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