Gypsy Soul Leads to New Roads

 

“I’m moving to Italy when my lease is up.”

The waitress, probably not yet in her mid-twenties, is telling me about her self-declared ‘gypsy soul.’

“I’m originally from Santa Cruz, California but I move quite a bit,” she said. She lists off a half-dozen places she’s lived before explaining how she arrived in Austin, Texas.

“I was in Taos for a good bit, but the lack of snow made it hard to make any money waiting tables. A friend told me about Austin and it sounded like a cool place to live for a bit.”

She moves a coaster below my drink.

“I might as well travel while I’m young, right?”

She’s young, traveling light, and the most expensive things she owns are probably the tattoos decorating her skin.

Her story is captivating. She’s well grounded, polite, and seems confident in her journey. Just as many of us focus on settling down, she’s focused on seeing the world – at least at this point in her life.

“I guess you could say I have a gypsy soul.”

She smiles, turns away, and cheerfully heads to another table.

Sitting there I can’t help but impressed by her maturity and courage. Best I can tell, she’s not lost – maybe just the opposite. Her gypsy soul, as she calls it, is really her listening to her personal voice instead of the chorus of society insisting she follow a rote pathway of life. Maybe, her soul is telling her, there is another way.

There is a significant difference between being lost in life and that of being driven to explore a new world or experience just around the corner. One is passive, the other active. And the results couldn’t be more different.

Life is best when discovered. To simply follow the breadcrumbs of those ahead of us is akin to walking blindfolded along a pathway unable to see the dozens of interesting choices and detours available to us. Some are wonderful, others not so. But the point is, each experiences shapes us into the person we become.

My mother sold everything she owned at the age of twenty-one and immigrated to the United States. Traveling alone, the only thing she knew for sure is she didn’t want to raise her children in Europe. For the better part of the next couple years she traveled up and down the eastern coastline discovering both herself and the new world she’d chosen to live. And much like the waitress in Austin, she waited tables or served as a hostess during that time. For her, she was discovering life – and herself.

My mother’s gypsy soul eventually settled down in the Midwest. She married my father, raised a family, and found her dreams come true. But, as happens, life’s pathway changed as she passed in her mid-forties, interrupting her journey in midstream.

As I left the restaurant I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the young waitress and my mother. Both hear to a voice – one emanating from their gypsy soul. And to both, they realize life is best discovered or revealed one day at time.

Later this year a young girl with a suitcase and tattoos will purchase a one-way ticket to Italy. For as any true gypsy soul knows, a return ticket is going the wrong direction.

– 30 –

Technology Sends Mixed Signals

 

Okay, call in the clowns – I am officially old.

Not to say I’m throwing in the towel, but I am increasingly interested in simplifying my life. As much as I love technology, ‘more and more’ seems to be turning into too much.

The recent unveiling of the Apple Watch is one just example. An accessory said to be so amazing your willpower to resist purchasing will be rendered powerless whenever within one thousand yards, the product is downright Orwellian.

The concept of a watch keeping my health vitals, vibrating every time an email arrives, or allowing me to purchase a coffee with a casual swipe of the hand actually seems a bit intrusive. I can almost see myself, after a long day off ringing or vibrating, tossing the offender into the ocean. In some ways the new Apple Watch just might manifest into something along the lines of a police-issue ankle monitor.

When it gets right down to it, I just want my watch to tell me the time.

But these increasingly odd feelings are not stopping with my watch.

Believe it or not, I take great pride in my ability to parallel park – so much I once thought of mentioning the valuable factoid on my resume. Today, however, many new cars come equipped with the technology to successfully parallel park your car without human assistance. This, no matter how convenient, makes me a bit sad as I can still hear my dad’s coaching in the background as I pull off yet another parallel parking masterpiece. Somehow my dad’s voice saying, “push the self-parking button,” does not carry the same emotional currency.

A couple weeks ago a speaker mentioned a popular new app for the iPhone that turns on the camera as to allow you to read your Facebook feed on your tiny screen and see where you are walking without ever looking up.  Yes, as if occasionally lifting your eyes off your little screen is too much to ask, there is an app for that.

Today we are finding new generation not knowing how to read or give directions without the assistance of their phones. To tell my daughter’s generation a destination is on the west side of a particular road is akin to speaking Greek to her.

Recently I asked her to tell me what side of the road a business was located.

“Is it on the east or west of the interstate?

“Dad,” she once said, “I carry 10 different tubes of lipstick in my purse. Do I look like I carry a compass?”

Like I said, the world is getting complicated in an odd way.

Computers were designed to help us become more efficient. But I’m becoming increasingly suspect they just might be sucking the wind out of life. Everything is becoming so predictable, so precise. The wiggle room of the unexpected is where many of us discover the fun in life. Nothing really beats the excitement of the imperfect.

So as the clowns move a few steps closer, they shouldn’t have too much trouble finding me. I’ll be they guy checking the time on my watch right after successfully completing another perfect old-school parallel parking job.

– 30 –

 

Butterflies Still Flying After 27 Years

Twenty-seven years ago this weekend I married my girlfriend.

Time can play tricks on you. While my brain assures me that more than two and half decades is a long time, my heart struggles to distinguish between last week and a decade ago. If anything, love seems to eliminate any semblance of time passing together.

Today we have two adult children, a dog and mortgage. But beyond that, I feel as if I’m still hanging out with my girlfriend. To this day she can still give me a case of the butterflies in my stomach when she enters into a room — just like when I first spotted her in a college history class.

My aunt once told me “always make sure to remember to hold onto the feeling of being two crazy kid in love.” Her marriage, one of the most romantic and beautiful relationships you’d ever see, only helped to underscore she’d nailed the formula.

And yes, I am still crazy for the the girl I nervously asked out to lunch one day after class.

We were – and still are – two very different people. But inside we found we shared a good number of specific core values for not only then, but also the future. And based on those – and the fact we were crazy about each other – we soon found ourselves standing at the alter taking the big plunge together.

Certain dates on the calendar seem to dislodge memories more than others – birthdays, holidays, or maybe even the first day of Spring. But for me, nothing compares to the day I married my girlfriend and never looked back.

Yes, twenty-seven years ago I finished up midterms and drove across town to our wedding rehearsal. And the next day, the most beautiful girl I ever saw walked down the aisle and into my life forever. I can still feel the softness of her skin as our hands joined; I can see the moisture of emotion in her eyes as we faced the minster. Yes, those moments are still that clear to me.

But along the way I’ve learned to listen to others and appreciate their wisdom.

Marriage, they say, is not about liking the same foods, same sports teams or even being together every waking moment. Marriage, much like the literal term, is about melding two different properties together and creating a singular entity. And in the physical marriage of two different properties, the little DNA making each unique still remains. The resulting outcome – if done right – ends up creating something much larger, stronger, and interesting.

Marriage, therefore, is not forging – the act of where one item is created under extreme pressure to shape and conform to a single mold. Marriage is more akin to making a giant pot of gumbo and recognizing and respecting of the difference that make the end result better. While there is a recipe, no two pots will every taste exactly the same.

Yes, I married my girlfriend – the fact she is now my wife is just a mere technicality.

– 30 –

Protecting A Half-Full Glass In Half-Empty World

“Whenever the telephone would ring, it was never good news.”

I’m riding in a cab listening as the driver tells me about why he immigrated to America. His words are energetic and rhythmic. His homeland may be on the side of the globe, but the memories are always nearby.

“Never was the telephone call about a birth or a wedding,” he said. “No, always news about someone who had died. Your brother, sister, even grandmother. Whenever the telephone rang, it was bad news.”

Red digits continue to accumulate on the dashboard meter as he talks about why he loves being in America.

“I’m a glass is half-full guy,” he said. “I just don’t understand others. Why can’t they see if the glass is half-empty, you’ve still got half a glass, right?”

“America is like that,” he said. “The glass is always half-full – and opportunity is always around the corner.”

His words made me smile. Here is someone born a world away, one regularly torn apart in civil wars, yet continues to protect his optimism at all costs. From his perch, behind the steering wheel of a cab, he – and he alone – is in control of his life.

Sometimes God just puts our lives in a crossing pattern with others for a purpose. The driver, I’m sure, is one of those examples.

As the car approaches the airport, the driver’s energy continues to fill the cab. He’s a happy man.

Turning around, he points his index finger upward.

“I believe that is how the big guy upstairs wants us to be,” he said.

I think of his homeland and the world he lived as a child. With death and destruction a regular visitor one could easily become shaped towards seeing a half-empty glass. After all, why should tomorrow be any different than today? What makes tomorrow any different?

Well, as the driver knows, such a belief comes from inside. A feeling of being in control of your life and knowing you – and only you – can shape tomorrow. In many ways, having the courage to never let go of your tomorrows are one of our most valuable personal possessions.

The driver signals towards the curb, navigating between dozens of cabs each jockeying for position near the terminal.

“Yes, I believe my glass is half-full,” he says again.

The door opens beside me – and tomorrow awaits my arrival. How I enter the new day is up to me and me alone. No different from the driver, my hands are on the steering wheel of life. The decisions I make all originate from how I choose to see the glass God places before me. Do I see the tomorrow as just a predetermined continuance of today? Or can I shape tomorrow into one where opportunity for a better day is within reach?

I grab my bag and shake the driver’s hand. Whatever the number totaled on the meter is much less of value than the lesson he shared with me. Because of him, I’ll be doubling-down on tomorrow.

– 30 –