Rex has been a client and good friend for more than 15 years. He is the person that said; “There was before Karl and after Karl, no money and then money and success.” I received this note from Rex about ten years ago. His life has been a joy to watch as it has unfolded over the years.
“Today I’m going to take the subway to work.” Was my first thought this morning, “Let’s save some gas.” I made my bed, because as Karl Wolfe says, “Your day doesn’t start until you make your bed”, and headed down Lake Avenue toward the train station.
At 8:45 and with both hands on the wheel I started on my way thinking “Ok, 7 days with no complaining this is going to be interesting.” 7 days how about 7 seconds? With all the drivers on the road it didn’t take long “Where the hell did this guy learn to drive? Wait, your complaining… just stop… but what do I fill the void with? I don’t know… silence I guess. Ok, I’ll just be silent. My God lady what are you thinking? …STOP! Just be silent…ok, silence. Well, traffic is awfully light to day… wow look at all the parking.”
A pleasant stroll to the train station a brief wait and we’re on our way in a shiny new Gold Line train with tons of empty seats. As we chugged along I became aware of how much I was enjoying the ride. I’ve always liked train rides, but today I was as thrilled, as if I were on a ride at Disney Land. I thought how odd it was that I was finding so much pleasure in such a mundane thing. I began reading my book “Life of Pi,” a story about a young boy who survived in a life boat with a tiger. I came to the point in the book where he had discovered the boat’s stores and as he pulled out each item, water, food etc… he murmured “thank you, thank you, thank you…” My head shot up, I swear involuntarily, for some reason my eyes filled with tears and I thought, “That’s what fills the void, gratitude!! Thank you for the train, thank you for the sun, thank you for the trees, thank you for life, for health, for love…” an endless list of things for which to express thanks. And thanks to whom? I have no idea but it didn’t really matter. The joy I experienced was indescribable.
I know that negativity and complaining drag you down so it stands to reason that gratitude would lift you up. It was like a burst of warm light and the light was so much more powerful than the dark and moved much quicker. Given just a small crack to enter and it pushed the negative out of the way with little effort, actually with no effort it just washed over it. We spend so much time in the dark and it seems fine but only because we don’t know how much better the light is and how easy it is to get to. The word edification keeps coming to mind. How simple thoughts can lift up, make better, relieve suffering. I can see how throwing money at the poor doesn’t do crap, it doesn’t cost anything to stop suffering. (I just got interrupted by a call from a contestant on the show. I can’t tell you how easily everything is going at work today.) One last part to the story. I got to the bus stop on Wilshire, and soon a rather large number of people followed to wait for the bus. When it arrived there was an unspoken but clear, “every man for himself,” push for the door. I felt like I was among animals each grasping for survival and determined to get a seat on the bus “me, me, me!” I thought about what you said, “Poor people play to not lose.” The whole feeling of the crowd was, “There are only a few seats and I will push and claw to try to get one.” Table scraps.
I decided to step back and let everyone on. At first I thought just the women then I said, “No everybody.” My ego got pissed and said, “You’re being a doormat, you have as much right to a seat as anybody else here, step up!” For a moment I did feel like I was “losing,” but I stayed back. I was the last person in line and just as I was about to reach the door, of the now packed bus, a second bus pull up behind the first and it was almost empty. I chuckled and calmly walked back to my nearly private coach. It was a small lesson but a very clear message to relax, there is plenty for everyone.
And with that I would like to express some gratitude to you. I would not be having these experiences and enjoying such happiness with out your patience and guidance and I thank you.
And then the following day:
I think the universe has a sense of humor as well. Do you remember in “What the Bleep” when the guy asks that things show up in different and unexpected ways so he knows that the universe is listening? Well, this morning when I was waiting to get on the bus I was entertaining the idea that the second bus thing that happened yesterday had been a fluke and today I may end up not getting a seat.
Again I was at the end of the line when a second bus came down the road but it said “Out of Service,” on the top, so I turned back to the line. The bus pulled up and honked its horn, so I turned around and the driver waived to me to come over. The funny part was that I walked to the second bus through people who were still walking to the crowed bus because they didn’t see the driver wave and only saw the “Out of Service” sign. As I got closer, I saw that there was a hand written paper sign on the windshield that said “#20 Santa Monica,” the electric sign was broken and I again got my choice of seats. I had to chuckle for the second day in a row.