I remember when I picked up the old, wrinkled hobo at a gas station on my trip from Virginia to Arkansas. Before he got in my tiny, white Honda Civic, I asked if he was weaponless to which he responded, “yes” (he did say it was a good question). All of his dirty, smelly stuff squeezed in the passenger seat along with his aged, aching body and as he settled in he proceeded to tell me his life story. A story of joy and pain. Trial and tribulation. Relationships gained and family members lost. I certainly did not desire to adopt this man’s life story. A vagabond, homeless, wandering across the good ole’ US of A with his government issued cell phone and maybe one, stinky, moldy change of clothing. But would he want mine? Though I had lived a privileged life up to that point with a very loving and supportive family, part of me could not overlook that I was a spoiled rotten brat from Suburbia, full of religious and moral ideals that had no purpose other than to promote my comfortable lifestyle. Nothing “bad” could ever happen to me. I would never end up like “this” guy. As I dropped him off near Knoxville at the intersection of Highways 81 and 40 he said to me (for maybe the 20th time with a toothless grin and smelly breath), “don’t forget Taylor, LIFE’S A TEACHER.” I remember thinking to myself, “How’s your life lesson working out for you?”
However, he was right. I may not have been hitchhiking, penniless across the country with little more than a change of clothing, but I was relocating to Arkansas in a last stitch attempt to salvage my life as I knew it. Over the subsequent days, months and years, I integrated this Road Sage’s advice as I experienced hardship after hardship and began to discover that Life’s Lessons are here for me so that I can learn from them and then make, wiser, healthier choices. And It just so happens that I came to realize that the process of change could be greatly accelerated if I learned from the life lessons of others. Take the hobo for instance. I now know that I crossed paths with this rugged, worn and tired traveler because he was a pristine picture of what my future would be if I did not make some very important decisions to course correct my own journey. HE WAS MY ADVICE. Often the greatest Life Lessons have nothing to say. They just stare you right in the face with a toothy grin and smelly breath and smile.