Our friend and neighbor, Daniel, on his porch next door.
Most people work a 40 hour a week job (sometimes more) and they are rewarded with 2 weeks paid vacation, give or take a few days. I have many friends who work very hard at a job they don’t necessarily even enjoy to pay for their vacations; their beautiful homes that they come home to after their treacherous work days; and to get some enjoyment out of life that their earned finances can afford them. I suppose it makes sense. However, when you really stop to think about the whole idea it is really rather bothersome.
Why do we run on the hamster wheel just to escape it all? Our souls long for the beautiful things in life yet we settle for the counterfeit bountiful things in life. If we long for serenity and peace, why do we accept the sinful and pitiful? Someone once said life is full of disappointment. But why can’t life just be full?
This might sound funny to you, but I promise I am going somewhere…Let’s talk about Johnny Depp for a minute. He lives in the South of France with his lover and 2 children. He lives in a very secluded villa where the paparazzi almost never shoot him. He has no desire to make a life in L.A. or New York or any of the other hamster wheels of society. He makes movies and films that he loves and believes in, then goes home to his peaceful villa…or the Island he owns. He seems like he gets it.
The other day I was sitting at the sitting at the coffee bar at Caffetto on 22nd and Lyndale close to our home waiting for a friend to arrive. While I was waiting I struck up conversation with the Barista making my drink. His name is Matthew. He asked me what I was studying and out of that question stemmed a short, but profound conversation. In the course of our conversation he shared with me he had a film degree and a law degree, but he preferred working in a coffee shop in Uptown and selling bags that he hand sows. When I asked him why he said, “I just want to be happy.” He didn’t want his life to be all about the hustle and bustle. He didn’t want to have to strive; he didn’t want to know the feeling of the insatiable appetite for more; he didn’t want to get so caught up in the drive for success that he lost sight of what was really important in life. He said that he came from a family of over achievers and that was the motivation for all of his schooling, but at the end of the day this is what he wanted to do. I was impressed. What courage! To be honest enough to admit what truly made him happy; what he valued in life. What if we all had the courage to pursue something that delighted our souls rather than our wallets?
In the recent weeks Matt and I have had new neighbors move in next store. 2 brothers bought the duplex next to ours and moved in with all their friends. They are young men in their twenties and quite nice and hospitable. A few nights ago I was coming home from work at about 9:30 at night and they were sitting out on their large porch with friends who were over. They had just finished grilling and were relaxing with some beers. We said hello as I walked up to where they were and they asked me if I wanted to sit a while and hang out. I told them I was going to go home and read because Matt was out for the night and they insisted I sit a while. So I did. For a while I sat and talked with this girl to my right. I eventually got to know the rest of the group. Then I turned to Daniel who was on my left, he is one of the brothers who own the home. We started to talk. We talked about the porch and how great it was to have something like this. Uptown is a porch community. It is wonderful to see people out and about with friends and neighbors. Daniel began to talk to me about how much the porch meant to him. He said that his goals in life were different from most other people; He said he really didn’t have very many professional goals. He just wanted to be happy, come home to his porch and do “this,” as he held his arms out to the people merrily enjoying the night. Again, what courage! To boldly admit what you truly want in life and to go after it. Even if what you want is your porch and the community it brings. Almost every night this summer Matt and I have heard him on the porch strumming his guitar, playing blue grass, folk music or any other tune that comes into his head. It’s wonderful and a lovely reminder of the simple, yet satisfying, things in life.
The late Celtic poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue once said that to see a human doing the job that they were created for is one of the most beautiful things to behold. I would have to agree. That’s all I have to say about that.
Do we have the courage to admit what makes us truly happy? Have you found your porch?