We Don’t Know What We Don’t Have Until We Have Nothing, Then it’s Clear

“remember to love the person next to us harder, spend more time playing with the kids, walk the dog, sleep in from time to time, and demonstrate appreciation for everything gained and held”

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Yesterday, when leaving a job site in Philadelphia, I came upon this couple sleeping under the bridge. I’ve seen the poor, I’ve witnessed destitution, and I’ve encountered unfortunate souls in unique places. What caught me–the thing that really shocked me– was that they weren’t just sleeping there; they had established a home.

Slowly I passed their spot, the two of them closed off to the waking world and hopefully lost in a more pleasant reality. The area they occupied claimed about as much space as my own room, and was equipped with a bed, dresser, cooler, and even a rack to hang their towels from. The bed itself was more than barrier to separate them from the ground, the contents like any normal bed with sheets and pillows.

I’ve seen those men and woman sleeping on benches, streets, and enclosed stairways, but never have I seen a home. It struck me hard, going deeper than a superficial impact. I saw a story with the two. I saw the pizza box and thought about how they likely had a dinner in bed together. I saw their closeness and thought that regardless of how down on their luck they appeared to be, their was an element of optimism to be seen through it all, because, worse than having nothing is having nothing alone.

Though sad, there was some good to see in the situation. Observing someone’s misfortune is an opportunity to reflect on oneself. There are days when I feel like I have nothing and no one, but it isn’t accurate. There are days that I fail to see the walls around me and the roof over my head; I see them so often I just forget their importance. There is food in my refrigerator, a shower upstairs, washing machine in the basement, and most important, I never have to wake up and think to myself, “what now?” Once, I heard a motivational speaker say something about loving the idea of hitting rock bottom, because there is nowhere to go but up. I believe this. To have nothing and be able to survive must feel in someway like being reborn.

When you see a homeless person with a sign, many people will assume they're asking for money but most of them just want an opportunity to live in a home and to have a minimum wage paying job. They want change.

If I woke up tomorrow with nothing, and lived like this couple, everything in life would have a new light. Having a table to eat at would enthuse me and having a door to lock at night would provide the feeling of security. My appreciation for things as simple as walls and lights would be renewed, and my love for the many other things that I now take for granted would be accelerated, like that of an inquisitive child. The most important thing would be the relationships. My feeling of being with the person I love, in a secure environment, where we have everything we need for comfort and security, would be so much stronger, because with nothing else to really worry about, we could give so much more to each other. Life and everything that I would gain would have an element of magic, and my appreciation for its acquisition would bring new joy.

Though, we don’t always live with this enthusiasm. We crowd our lives with unnecessary worry and produce problems that most with nothing would see as trivial matters. Without the true worry of having to figure out what’s next and what we are going to eat tonight, we take the time with loved ones to sometimes fight over problems that have no bearing on our quality of life or security. We waste our time on menial tasks and thoughtless entertainment, rather than taking a walk or having a conversation about something that has nothing to do with how we are going to survive the night or next day.

We often create our own alternate realities when we realistically have nothing to worry about. But when our true reality steps in, we are somehow pulled back down, and yanked from misguided conceptions of life. Seeing anyone with nothing should spark some thought in you. Coming to the realization that we often forget what we have is powerful and seeing someone else’s misfortune is sometimes just the reminder that we need. This gives us the chance to remember to love the person next to us harder, spend more time playing with the kids, walk the dog, sleep in from time to time, and demonstrate appreciation for everything gained and held, without the worry of having to fight for it moment to moment.

Until the next time and next topic, stay happy!

Erich

Let Go of Expectation, Enjoy the Moment

“Give up the control, it isn’t necessary to be on top of everything in your life”

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#firefly2017, is what the billboards read. Post it, tag it, support it, and just keep rolling with it.

It was the first time that I attended a true fest in the past 15 years, and just like I remember, it was a terrific experience. Sprawled across the woodland and grassy terrain of the nearby Dover International Speedway in Delaware, the fest was both alluring and overwhelming; a restorative event for the soul.

It began as a cloudy and muggy day, but before long an endless white ceiling gave way to the blistering sun. However intense it was, the unshakable and inescapable heat would not compete with the will of thousands, who gathered to feed their souls with inspiration and energy. No matter where one stood, eyes stared towards the music, while our necks faced the blistering sun. I stood beside my love and cheered the waves of performers and torrent of positive energy.

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In between sets, there seemed to be a repetitive flow of thousands of travelling bodies, all headed towards the food, water, and cold beer. Hordes of music-goers spent the down times soaking up limited shade across the property, while lines doubled or tripled in length, and tents over-crowded quickly. Yet, regardless of heat, expensive beer, underwhelming cuisine options, and sickening portable toilets, not once did I witness a sour face, an angry attendee, or overhear an argument. Everyone knew what they were there to experience, there was no confusion about that.

It was nothing but positive energy and smiles across the board. Sure, my experience was my own (well, mine and the beautiful woman by my side), and some likely saw a completely different side to the event. But therein lies the concept of attitude. Going into anything with unreasonable expectations, negativity, or a demanding complex, the event will yield similar feedback. Our experience was so pleasant because the only thing that we went there with was an open mind and zero expectations. We let the fest show us what it was made of, and it did not disappoint.

Things are different today, and life has shown me that sometimes the best thing that you can do is slow your thoughts and just let the moment be what it is. It’s not a thought that I was equipped with as a younger man. I let the crowds frustrate, the costs run me out of money, and the sun de-energize me, until I was ready to go home. It seems that I have outgrown the impatience, the intolerance, and the expectations. There is the key to happiness in almost anything.

We need to understand in life that sometimes it is better to relinquish control, and let life guide us through the moments. Give up the control, it isn’t necessary to be on top of everything in your life. Become a yes man or a yes woman, and understand that strength is not always represented by ensured outcomes. When we understand that our potential happiness can come to us easier in our moments when control is relinquished, versus trying to force the result, growth will gained in leaps. Be happy, let go of expectations sometimes; especially when you see that the alternative provides nothing.

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On a final note, my vote for best performance of Saturday (hands down) The Weeknd!

Until the next time and next topic, be happy.

Erich