"Hey man, where are you staying while you're up here?" I said, as our two-hour long conversation finished up at a lunch spot in Burlington. "Oh, my truck. I'll be fine. I'm actually headed to Canada."
And for some reason, I wasn't surprised. I offered up my couch, but it was respectfully declined.
The person I met a few years ago working in a cubicle was now living out of his truck.
The lavish accommodations were complete with mattress (accented by a blue sleeping bag), trash bag shades, a small portable grill, and a 20-gallon water reserve - among not too many other things.
While I'm not going to be living in my Honda Civic anytime soon, the conversation we had didn't reflect one bit on the fact that he lived out of his truck, hadn't shaved in a couple weeks, and we used the lunch spot downtown to, well, not get lunch at all - and just talk.
I'd like to share what I learned from him.
1. You don't need a lot of things
There wasn't a lot in my friend's truck. Because he didn't need a lot. This led me on a rabbit hole of research into minimalism, a guy's list (with pictures) of the 97 things he owned, and me, staring at all of the crap in my apartment, my closet, and my pantry. Who needs all this stuff? It's not making my life any more awesome. Life is about experiences, not things. I have too many things.
2. You can't purchase time
Time is one of the world's finite resources. You can't go to Target and buy it. You can't dig it out of the ground. And you can't make more of it in your basement. It's yours -and it's limited. Do what you love. Spend time with people who don't waste your time (Waste time with the ones you love). Let people know when they're wasting your time. You can always do something else. But, Is what you're doing right now worth not doing something else? Take risks. Be assertive. Get what you want.
3. Stop asking why
I let my friend know I had stopped drinking. I'm almost 2 years sober. And I mentioned how annoying it was when people asked me why I didn't drink. They'd assume I was an alcoholic. His response? "Asking why is the stupidest question because...who gives a f*ck?" He's right. Who cares why you stopped drinking? Who cares why you run marathons? Who cares why you are a single mom? The only person who should care is you. You have decided to live your life a certain way. And no one should question your decision.
4. Be selective in who you work with
Why work with a group of people who don't get anything done? They drag out projects for months, don't value your service, and it's a pain to track them down to get paid. My friend wants to find a handful of contract clients every year he's pumped to work with. I'm leaning in the same direction.
5. Money isn't that exciting
My friend is practically a freelancer. He makes good money, works wherever there's an internet connection, and he knows his worth. He doesn't want to be rich or build a billion dollar company. (In fact, he told me stories of how he found himself frivolously spending on things because he had the money). He'd happily make less. Because when he was making more, life wasn't any more exciting.
6. Take care of yourself
Dying at 63 years old isn't high on my to-do list. So, that means I've got to take care of myself. Eat right, exercise, get good sleep, drink a lot of water, etc. (This still means I can eat cake). Related to #2, people complain about how limited their time is, yet don't take care of themselves. They die early because of the choice they've made to let their health not be a priority. Take care of yourself today so you have a better tomorrow.
7. Go where you want to go
Over the past few weeks, I've been applying to jobs across the eastern seaboard - Burlington, Providence, Durham, and even Canada. There's a part of me who wants to explore. I want to see another part of the country. But, my heart will always be in Vermont. Always. I learned from my friend to go where you want to go. You can always come back.
I can count my close friends on two hands.
These friends challenge me, make me think differently, and lend an ear when needed. The person I'm describing above does everything to the extreme. He's passionate, curious, and a problem solver. Oh, and he happens to live in his truck.
It makes me wonder what I'd learn from other people who are in situations I've never been in before. What if you talked to the homeless people on the Church Street Marketplace looking for lose change? Or, the terminally ill cancer patient, the women trying to raise her three kids by herself, etc.
Stories amaze me.
They make life worth living. And I'm happy I learned my friend's story isn't finished. It's a cliff hanger. And he likes it that way.
Do you have any friends you've learned a lot from?