“I’m not here by accident.”
My wife and I are sitting in small cottage-converted-to-restaurant along the Gulf Coast. Muted pastels and white window shutters warmly wrap around us. Wooden floors echo footsteps; the effects of salt air help the front screen door announce the arrival of new guests.
A woman with large smile, and even larger energy, is telling us about why what brought her to open a restaurant.
“I live for the feel of salt air in my lungs,” she said.
“I turned fifty and decided to buy this house and move to town,” she said. “Didn’t really know what I was going to do with it.”
The small fishing town she chose does not yet feature a stoplight.
“I decided to go to culinary school and open up a restaurant,” she said. “Eight years later, and here I am.”
Some people are dreamers. Others are doers. Once in a great while you run across someone who can do both while shaking off the expectations of others. This woman is one such person.
The restaurant is filled with happy people. Moods are warm as if they’ve arrived for a family reunion – an atmosphere the staff creates naturally. At a nearby table both guests and staff whisper to a newborn with a pink bow on her head. Others repeatedly stand up offering hugs to those announced by the scratching of the screen door.
Her business, and I hate to label it as such, is successful. With a stream of visitors from hundreds of miles away, she’s also finding her name popping up in travel magazines as a place to discover. The simple use of these metrics makes her a success. But these very same measurement tools also miss what make this possible: the spark in her soul.
With the kitchen energetically humming behind a swinging wooden door, she tells us of her next step in life.
“I’d like to open a food truck,” she said. Her eyes brighten as she describes the location – one I struggle to identify. Noticing my confusion, she offers to help.
“Near Aruba,” she said of the tropical island.
Suddenly I understand not even geography can erect a barrier to her dreams.
I’ve met a few of these people in my life. Filled with a vision of the world in which they wish to live, they also posses a rare energy and commitment to see them through. Obstacles are not deterrent but rather an anticipated feature of the landscape. Life, to these people, is a self-defining journey.
Our dinner arrives and is as wonderful as the atmosphere we are sharing with the other guests. Obviously the kitchen is in on the fun.
Experiences like these rarely happen by accident. But through a unique blend of optimism, acceptance of risk, and the commitment to do whatever it takes to realize these dreams, the rest of us get benefit.
I fully expect a very special food truck to one day be located near the island paradise of Aruba. And inside will be a woman with a powerful spark in her eyes who understands the formula for success comes from within.
And once again, the success will not be an accident.
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