I was in a coffee shop a while back & there was a group of 5 or 6 girls talking. I couldn’t help but overhear about how this one girl’s family lived in England for a few years as she was growing up.
At that moment, at that table, at that coffee shop, this girl was a rockstar.
She had a story to tell. Her life was interesting. Other people thought it was cool. She exuded confidence and the pride in knowing who she is and why she’s that way and even though as a kid she didn’t want to live in England in the first place, now she wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.
I was surprisingly saddened by the whole ordeal. Only because none of the other girls at the table had a similar story — sure, they’d probably all lived great lives — but none had a great story to tell.
In our cultural quest for perfection, I think we risk missing out on some of the greatest lessons and experiences that life has to offer. We’re afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the possibility of failure.
My friend offered to cook dinner for a girl one time in hopes of impressing her enough for a second date. He burned the food so bad, they ended up ordering pizza. But the vulnerability he showed and the way he handled it impressed the girl more than a perfectly cooked steak ever could have.
Now that I’m living on a boat at a marina, you might imagine that I come across some interesting people. I’m surrounded by people who, at one point or another in their life, purposely chose to live an unusual story.
I’m looking right now at a boat that’s home to a couple and their 16 year old daughter. They sold their house a few years ago and just wanted to try something different.
Several weeks ago I met a couple who got married young, bought a boat instead of a house and started hopping from place to place picking up odd jobs. After a few years, they read a book and decided they wanted to try their hand at boat building. Today, the most beautiful schooner sits in the water (photo above). Every line, plank and fastener has a story behind it.
They may not have much in the way of 401k & stock options, but spend any amount of time with them and you’ll hear countless stories rich with adventure, terror and joy.
But these things don’t happen on accident. You don’t just wake up one day in your queen sized bed in suburban America with a life full of interesting stories. It’s a daily thing that you work towards and you recognize and take opportunities as they arrive.
And, thankfully, everybody has a different image in their head for what a successful, story-rich life looks like.
One friend of mine wants nothing more in this world than to birth a child and raise him to be a real, live, functioning person.
Another wants to be a teacher and shape young minds.
Another girl who promised me she wasn’t even in the running for Miss America or anything said if she could do anything in the world, she’d spend all her time feeding hungry inner-city children.
And there’s no doubt that these are all much more worthy causes and ambitions than many of my own.
But I think the key to the whole thing is that they know what they want, and they work towards it every day.
What are you working towards?