Last night, I had the pleasure of enjoying dinner and a “few” cocktails with a very dear old friend of mine.
Because of life and its happenings, this person and I had not seen each other or really been in touch for a little over six years, but our connection was still fierce.
When we knew each other way back when, this was someone who I viewed with great admiration—a man with truly staggering ambition as well as genuine insight into the sensitivities of the world. Our conversations in the past have been filled with lighthearted laughter and deep soul searching. I was excited to see him again and relight the fire that our friendship possessed so many years ago.
Lately, my run-ins with old friends have inspired me and stirred up the pot in my mind with fresh ideas; I knew this interaction would do exactly the same. I pulled up to the restaurant and walked inside. Immediately, I was greeted with the warmest embrace and the sound of a familiar voice in my ear. He found me.
Right off the bat, we started catching up: How is so-and-so? What is so-and-so up to? It was exhilarating to hear about all of these people I once lived with and to see friends of mine thriving in their lives as travelers, doctors, writers, and up-and-coming celebrities.
Slowly, our conversation delved deeper and deeper into our latest thoughts. As a writer—a published writer I might add—my friend has a way with words that draws a conversation out smoothly and with great ease. These are my favorite kinds of friends. It did not take long for our talk to approach a point that has been circling in my consciousness for quite some time now.
There’s a message that the universe, or something like it, has been sending me—by any means necessary. Finding it in books, street art, social media posts, and conversations with old and new friends, I have felt so bombarded by this message over the last several weeks that it has finally hit me that it’s probably time I listen.
Sitting across the table from my friend in this dimly lit booth of a train car-themed cocktail bar, we locked eyes as he said to me, “The key is to be present.” I couldn’t believe it. I wondered how long this point had been trying to get my attention. I looked back at him and said, “I can’t believe you just said that,” and from there, our conversation took off.
So many profound thoughts came to us in this discussion. Through the weaving and twisting conversation, I walked away with one important message. You see, my friend and I are both at very different stages in our lives. A lifelong goal of his has recently come to fruition; he is a published author and has the opportunity to travel and live his dream. I, on the other hand, am at a starting point. I have realized that my personal passion is to travel, and although I know my career will one day require my full attention, that day is not today. My direction is changing, while he is reaching his next highest peak.
But regardless of those differences, we are both completely aware that none of that really matters. Why? Because we are not our careers. He is not a published author, and I am not a waitress. Those are roles that we play, and they are important and necessary, but they do not make us who we are. At any given moment, our jobs, our careers, or our passions can change in the blink of an eye…and what then?
All we will have is this moment, all we will know is the person we are in the present. But what if we do not know them? What if we become so engrossed in the roles that we play that we become doctors or lawyers or CEOs, and we are successful and well-established and rich and powerful, but one day we don’t want to do that anymore? And what if one day we realize this but because we haven’t paid attention to the person inside of us that isn’t just a doctor, but is also a writer or a yogi or a traveler or an artist, we don’t know how to be anything else?
By completely identifying ourselves with the roles that we play, by considering myself inferior because I’m a waitress or by seeing himself superior because he’s an author, we are losing ourselves to our roles. We are not being present with our true selves because we are seeing these roles as who we are. But I’m not a waitress—I’m Erin.
And, when I look at it that way and take a look at what that provides me in the current moment, it’s actually perfectly aligned with who I want to be—someone who loves travel, who has the freedom to explore California, and the freedom to explore myself. I want to be on my feet and constantly meeting new and interesting people. Those are the things that I want at this moment, and I have all of them. For that, I am grateful.
When we stop asking, “Are we there yet?” with every decision we make, when we stop imagining that there is some finish line out there somewhere in the distance that we will reach, when we stop looking forward to our happiness as something that hasn’t even happened yet, we can take a moment like this—a moment with a dear friend in a train car bar with a margarita—and we can say:
“Yes, we are here now.”
Author: Erin Walls
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina