We rented a car and drove throughout Europe in the summer of 1998. It was Sheryl and me together with our moms. On this day though, we had to leave the car behind. The rental car company would not allow us to drive into the recently opened Czech Republic. So we sat down on the train, four seats facing each other in pairs, ready for a full day of adventures. It was sunny and warm and we had our backpacks supplied for a day trip to Prague.
Just before the train pulled out of the station, a very friendly young man passed by and asked Sheryl, “Can I have a sip of your water?” Sweet Sheryl had one of those tall bottles of Evian water as yet unopened. It would last her a full day in the 100+ heat. But this guy reached out his hand as she hesitantly agreed. He cracked it opened, took a swig and handed it back to her enthusiastically saying “Thanks!” She had such a look of disgusted disappointment on her face. It hadn’t occurred to her early enough to tell the vagrant who obviously hadn’t bathed in many days that “no, you cannot sip from my water bottle.”
Lesson learned: It is wholly appropriate and necessary to say “no” sometimes and often…even to very friendly people who smile though green teeth.
I took a road trip this weekend. I love road trips. The sun was shining. The music was blasting. The red and blue lights twinkled in my rear view mirror. Wait. That last part wasn’t so great. I’m convinced that the speed limit on the 5 should be no less than 100 mph. Since the California Bullet Train is at least a millenia from completion, please give us this little favor. How many times can a person traverse the vast expanse of the Dust Bowl actually going the speed limit? Nevertheless, I enjoyed my drive to not-so-sunny San Diego. In fact, the only sun I saw while attending the Storyline Conference at Point Loma was this beautiful sunset. If there’s only going to be 10 minutes of sun for the weekend, this is how I’d like to see it.
Palm fronds littered the streets and trees fell in the soggy ground and high winds. Meanwhile, I sat in an auditorium and listened to awesome speakers like Jon Acuff, Bob Goff, Donald Miller, Kristen Howerton and Anne Lamott. Also, this guy was here…
And this guy
The Storyline conference is to help people figure out how to live a more meaningful story. I discovered this group after reading several of Donald Miller’s books and then reading his storylineblog.com. We were encouraged to look at the different events in our life, both positive and negative. When we can find a redemptive purpose for our suffering, some meaning behind the negative things that happen, then it ceases to be suffering. “Joy is what you experience after the pain changes you” says Donald Miller. Bob Goff encouraged us all to Live in Grace and Walk in Love and also to see people for who they are turning into, their better, future selves.
When I look back at my life at the age of 75, what do I want it to look like? Instead of ending with regret at not having invested enough in important relationships or ignoring dreams, do this:
-Cultivate deep friendships
-Don’t ignore your dreams
-Project who you were created to be onto the world
-Keep work & relationships in balance
This list was made as a warning after a nurse listened to the 5 most common regrets of many elderly dying:
-They ignored their dreams
-The worked too much
-They didn’t say what they thought
-They wished they had made more friends
-They wished they had chosen to be happier
I love that happiness is a choice and it has to do with gratitude.
So, the conference was great. In addition to that, I got to visit with two dear friends. I stayed with one in Escondido. She has three beautiful kids whom she’s homeschooling. I played volleyball with both these girls in college and it was so fun to see them as moms. Tired moms. Are there any moms of young kids that actually have energy? Please, I’d love to hear from you. The second friend I visited on the way home has four boys. This is the girl who said she would never have kids. She’s an awesome mom, and also runs a school. On my drive down, I also got to pay a quick visit to two old surf buddies too. Kids were everywhere, mostly boys. In fact, of the 4 friends I saw, there were 9 boys, one girl, and one more boy being born as I type this.
As I drove into Palm Desert to visit my friend Deb, I was running low on gas. I was running low on oil. I needed to pee. 400 yards from my exit, the car started to sputter and cough. It coughed up the off ramp and through the stop light and into the gas station where it died. I had no power steering as I coasted to the pump. The timing could not have been more perfect. I filled what I needed to. I emptied what I needed to. I got to church almost on time. I got to see my dear friend and not get towed out of the desert. It was amazing. The sunset. The gas pump. The speeding ticket. The old friends. The weekend was a reset. It filled up my gas tank, and my oil, and relieved me. Okay, I’m taking that pit stop analogy a little too far.
If you want to learn more about Storyline, click here. You can also start planning your story on this cool site at mysubplot.com. It’s free.