“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”— Hugh Laurie (via nofatnowhip)
I had about 10 minutes before my flight, enough time to grab one more cup of coffee. I had rushed to finish one more assignment on the floor of the Salt Lake City airport before my flight to O’Hare and somewhat tight connection to Zurich. Just as I was about to order a coffee, I heard a man behind me ask, “Are you Leonard?”
I turned, and a man and his wife stood looking at me, an open passport in his hands. He looked at it, then looked at me, then back at the passport.
“Yes,” I said, my mouth dropping. “Wow.” I reached out and he handed me the passport, my passport, that I had left on the floor a few hundred yards from the coffee stand. I had hurriedly unplugged my computer from its last North American electrical outlet, packed up my stuff and left my passport, boarding pass inside, sitting next to a potted plant in the busy terminal.
I said Thank You, then Thank You again, and the guy and his wife smiled and walked on their way. I said Thank You 10 more times in my head, stuffed my passport and boarding pass back in my backpack, and ordered a coffee, sighing and shaking my head in disbelief that I left my goddamn passport on the floor of an airport minutes before the start of a three-week work trip.
And that guy saw it, picked it up, and walked around the terminal for a couple minutes trying to find a guy who looked like the guy in the photo, and handed it to me, no questions asked, no expectation of any reward, just doing the right thing on his way to the baggage claim. I did my best to communicate my gratitude, but how do you thank someone for saving you from thousands of dollars in airline tickets, days of stress, missed schedules, maybe identity theft? I should have given him a bear hug right there at the coffee stand.
My friend Mick told me he had a friend who said, “I used to think I was gonna change the world. Now I just let people onto the freeway.” I always loved that line, because I think it says something about what people can do to make other people’s lives better—all those little things that don’t make the evening news.
Most days, I think that most people aren’t going to save the world in the way we usually think of that phrase, save the world: feed starving children, rescue families from burning homes, start a nonprofit that helps people find a new start.
But then I think about people like that guy who handed me back my passport, or you, when you find someone’s wallet at a restaurant and give it to the manager, or pick up a dropped pacifier for a someone who’s holding a baby and trying to juggle three other things, or let someone in front of you in line at the grocery store when they have two items to buy and you have 25, I think, yeah, maybe everyone’s going to save the world.
“Expectations are a funny thing. You waste so much time guessing what your life could look like, but the thing is, you can’t really know until the day you open your eyes and see that if you let go and lean into the unexpected, it may be something more beautiful than you ever could have imagined.”—
One of my favorite reads in Esquire is the monthly feature “What I’ve Learned” where notable individuals share tidbits of what they’ve learned throughout their life journey. I always find them fascinating. I’m sure mine won’t be so much, but with so much change in my life lately, it is a bit…
“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”
“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”—
North Carolina took a big step back yesterday but thankfully Obama has taken a step forward. Last night I was very upset and for the first time wondered if we would ever have equal rights for everyone in this country. But this gives me hope again.
By holding tight to something, it’s as if we feel we will honor the weight and meaning of it. Because it was so major, so big, so deep, we can’t move on from it, ever, or else it would degrade or dishonor that memory somehow. What can happen when you hold tight to a wound is that it keeps you there, attached by a long, long tether, never letting you fully process it or heal from it so that you can become clear, happy and present in your life today. We also in the process replace that memory, whatever it is, with a warped time capsule. An imprint of that experience frozen in time that is only representative of this fear of letting go at this one time and place in our lives. Eventually it drags on your person like a broken down car at the bottom of a river – other experiences get snagged on it, our growth is slowed by it and eventually it becomes obscured as part of who we are, lodged deeper and deeper in the mud. Though it is not a reflection of all of our experiences, it colors new experiences moving forward.
Sometimes we hold tight to anger or pain we feel toward another person or thing. I used to believe that some things were so terrible that they could not and should not be forgiven. What I didn’t realize was that the reason to forgive or let go of something is not for them but for you. So that you can be free of the pain that something causes you: the anger, the hurt, the fear. If you decide you want to let go of something that pains you from your past, you can do it. It’s not easy or fast or painless, but to choose that goal is by far a much better one that will give you more happiness and peace in your life long term. One day, you will be free of it. You will conquer it, stronger. Don’t allow the past to destroy the future. What matters is what you do with your experiences, not that you’ve had them at all.