today i came to a simple conclusion. stories are important.
and we’ll never hear stories if we don’t put aside our busy lives and just listen. i came to this realization today as i was waiting for my sandwich at whole foods. as usual, i asked for a suggestion, took the suggestion, and was looking forward to what today’s sandwich man would come up with. and then i pulled out my phone and started to check my email.
and then i paused. i felt as though this sandwich man had something important to share. so i put my phone away and asked him a simple question. “how has your day been?.”
“good, nothing special though,” he said. and then we started chatting. i asked him if he was a father and if he had any special plans for today. he said that he had no big plans, that his kids were far away right now: one in bangkok with her pilot boyfriend and the other somewhere else in the nation. “both of them called and let me know they were thinking about me, and that is what is important.”
robert, today’s wonderful 60-something sandwich man told me a lot about his life. he grew up in DC and moved out here to denver when him and his wife separated because she had moved out here and he missed his kids too much to stay out east. he worked in restaurants for many years after school and had a graphic design business on the side. after a while, he went full time with his graphic design business and did a lot of work for many of his friends in the restaurant industry. i asked if he was still doing any design work and sadly, he said no. he said that when he started he was on the cutting edge of technology, he was a pioneer in the field and was very successful because of it. he said to go back into that field today would be tough. “i’ve got a lot to learn. but thankfully there is a three year program at metro state that i’ve looked into so, we’ll see.”
i can only hope he gets back to doing what he is passionate about. there are too many people in this world not doing what makes them happy. [[“don’t ask what the world needs. ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – howard thurman.]]
so, the moral of the story. put your phone away. ask questions. hear people’s stories. you’ll never know what simple or profound thing they will teach you about life.