Late last summer I rode into a local parking lot that is a common ground for motorbikes, and their riders, stopping to take a break. On this day, there was only one other person there with a bike, but I stopped and we talked. Bikers will almost invariably take the time to talk with other bikers.
On this particular day, this gentleman, who appeared to have taken the scorn of many years, seemed to be a jovial mood. I casually asked how he was doing to which he replied “Could be better.” Further talk revealed that he had cancer. Well, that’s an easy conversation to engage in, but I figured hey let’s give it a try.
This man went on to explain that he was going to live the last days of his life “drinking, chasing women and getting high smoking pot!” I said “Wow! Are you happy?” The mood changed and he said hesitantly, “No.”
How often do we put on the front for the sake of others? If I didn’t want to know how you were doing I wouldn’t ask. Sure I know it’s a habit to ask people, “How are you?” or, “How you doing?” But if we take the time to actively listen to someone, we would inevitably learn something new.
So here’s a guy, riding his Harley-Davidson, drinking coffee with me, tired and worn out from the ravages of life and cancer, who tries to come across as a party animal who is just looking for a good time, yet, is admittedly unhappy.
That is sad.
All the years this man has lived, looking for purpose and reason to his life, through parties, exploits, drugs, alcohol and God only knows what else, yet here he stands alone in a parking lot talking to me, a complete stranger, admitting he isn’t happy.
We talked about hope, and the only true source of hope, but he wasn’t ready to hear it. I sincerely hope that before his time comes up, he takes the time to listen to someone and hear that he has an alternative to his sorrowful life. An opportunity to experience lasting joy and peace, not the transient nature of the joys of the world.
Everyone has a story. What’s yours?