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It's Not About You
When I moved up to San Francisco, the city started opening up my eyes in ways that it had never done before. There is just such a shocking disparity of fortune here that you cannot help but come to terms with. I was uncomfortable with it when I moved up here and I still am.
Well, a few months after moving to San Francisco I was walking home and on the way ran into a homeless guy who asked me for a dollar.
After forking over the money, I asked him - what are you going to spend it on?
He then asked me, if I wouldn’t mind - could I give him some more money so that he could buy himself some food?
“Actually I’d love to buy you some food. Mind if I join you? Maybe we can go and eat it together?
I hadn’t eaten dinner yet at this point, so I ended up sharing my meal with this homeless guy and his friend.
Here I was, sitting down at a dinner with two humans and thinking that it was all about me.
Finally, he interrupted me. He asks me, do I know how to surf?
We spent the next half hour talking about the places he used to go to as well as surfing techniques.
Here I was, looking at someone in need and thinking that I could help him. Instead, it was he who taught me something. Here was a man who literally had nothing more than the net worth of $7 that I had just given him. But he’s poking fun at me, making fun of how un-Californian I am, and offering me free surfing lessons to boot.
I left smiling. It wasn’t about me. It as about me giving him the opportunity to give me something. More than the small amount of money, I gave him the comfortable feeling of knowing that he had dignity, that he was a giver and that he mattered in the world.
Someone once told me that if you focus on yourself, you can never really be happy. There will always be something wrong with your life. There’s always that "next thing” to complete / achieve that will make you “set” for the rest of your life. Maybe it’s enough money to never have to work again. Maybe it’s the significant other you’ve been looking for. No matter what it is, I think that that thing will never satisfy you until you can find comfort in where you are today, right now, in your life.