Hearing crickets and seeing stars, 10-29-15
The morning was crisp and cool but the sun was peeking over the treetops and it was destined to be a gorgeous day. The morning reading, prayer time, and glass of tea prepared the day for a steady vein of production, compensation, and some kick back leisure. The ride to the local café was a bit brisk on the motorcycle with my overalls flopping in the wind but that was ok, a few minutes on a cool ride in the morning was nothing for the awesome day that lay ahead. There was the usual gang of locals and old men telling their same old lies and stories with a couple of travelers headed to who knows where. I was reading the paper and waiting for breakfast when the door opened and in pops a stranger who had gotten out of a BMW. Not just a stranger to the area but there was something different about this guy, he just did not fit into this little backward, laid back spot in the road where life was not measure by the clock, deadlines, and required meetings. He had on slacks, a button-up shirt not tucked in, half-combed hair and whiskers that showed he had no intentions of meeting anyone important. He sat at a table next to mine, ordered straight, strong and hot coffee, picked up a menu and stared at it but never saw a word on the page. He ran his fingers through is hair and sighed with a noticeable breath. My food had arrived and I was slowly eating it but mainly just watching him. He seemed lost. He was there but a million miles away. I made eye contact, smiling, and said that from the way he looks it is a good thing he did not ride in on that thing, pointing to the motorcycle. He looked at it, smiled, and said yeah, he really needed 4 wheels and something around him. I asked where he was from and where he was headed. He, John, said he was from St. Louis and not sure where he was going. It turns out he had lived the rat race trying to get ahead, life had beaten him up with the constant job changes as a reporter which finally led to a divorce and seeing his kids once a month. He set out on the open road looking for himself, life, whatever lay around the next curve because in his words: “he had money, but everything else was bankrupt.” I tried that once. Grew up in the woods and then went to the big city to stake my claim, kinda like the movie Jungle-To-Jungle, I was a fish out of water. Life was entirely too fast paced, too high costs of living, and stresses of daily commutes and city life sent me packing back to the woods. He was done with the city life and was in search of a place where he could hear the crickets and see the stars. He wrote blogs and articles selling them anywhere he could get them published. We both finally finished breakfast and talked for about an hour. He said he must get going and write down some ideas he had in mind. I thanked him for the time and wished him a good day.
The next morning John came in a little earlier and looking a little better. I told him he looked like he had only been on a 3 day drunk instead of 4. We laughed and without even being invited he pulled out a chair and sat at my table. He asked about my life and why I was so relaxed and calm. I told him I had walked his path and I knew the stresses he was facing. When I came to the realization there was more to life than money and that my life, health, peace of mind and happiness were worth more than money can buy I made plans to change my lifestyle. I grew up on the gravel roads, woods, and acres of gardens and fields. Life is a much slower pace but there is also a totally different focus. We talked about how I once used people to get what I wanted and needed from life, how people were an instrument and tool to achieve what I thought would make me happy. When I made the changes to get my mental house in order I did not worry about the physical and monetary, they fell into place. I bought a house in the woods at the end of a gravel road, got rid of all social media, and became one with nature and then learned to like me again. I had discovered that I did not like me so why would anyone else like me. He asked many questions about my journey, where did it start, how did it start, what bumps in the road did I encounter, how long had I been on it, how a spiritual relationship with God changed situations, and many other questions like that. As I talked I was describing his life to the exact details. He was exactly where I was several years earlier. We finished our breakfasts and coffee and said goodbye.
We had not discussed it but I had a good idea John would be there on day 3. Sure enough, even a little earlier he walked in with clean clothes and clean shaven. He pulled out a chair and sat down with a different confidence. He ordered coffee and threw a tablet on the table. Five pages of hand written notes, some lines scratched out and re-written, jumbled words, and a few coffee stains declared his renewed search for himself. He had found a purpose for the journey he had started. John was working on a new story, one to send to a magazine, one where my story had given guidance and footsteps to his.
Days turned into weeks of building a great friendship and fellowship. Every morning he arrived his hair was combed, his car was washed and waxed, and he even wore a pair of jeans. John finally sold his story and it was published. Reading it in the magazine, I could have sworn I had read that story before.