I mean it. Literal rain. This is one of... those kind of Design Notes posts. The kind where we get to talk about life, the universe, and everything but the mayo. Hold the mayo.
Do you have dreams? Do you like to travel? Do you know what your life's purpose is? Have you ever been dealt a devastating blow by life that you had to overcome? If so, then the story of this random encounter might be interesting to you.
The storm was creating a pressure system so heavy that it felt like something was crushing my skull. It made me fall asleep at the coffee shop. Twice. Yes, I fell asleep in between sips of my coffee X_X. No one noticed. So I stopped planning my week in my planner and decided to go to my car and sleep in it a bit before driving the rest of the way to work. But it was raining doom cats and dogzards outside. No, I'm not scared of getting wet. But I was not in a time crunch (yet). I spied one of those rare comfy couches at the coffee shop, and asked the fella sitting in the next one if it was open. He said "Not any more", while making a friendly gesture for me to have a seat. Barely able to keep my eyes open (Should have propped them open with toothpicks) I thanked him and introduced myself. It only took 20 seconds to uncover his tragic story....
So his house was destroyed by a hurricane late last year. This came shortly after losing his father. Which came shortly after a personal tragedy which was something he certainly did not want to talk about-- you could see the sincere despair behind his eyes when he even mentioned it. Bryanolus has been traveling the world like a nomad since losing his home. Well, technically he still owns the plot of land. But all his belongings are in a storage facility. He was chilling at the coffee shop taking the "long road" to the airport for the next leg of his adventure. Having lost everything, he was searching for something... most likely, himself.
His upcoming adventures sounded exciting... Australia, Amsterdam, Jerusalem then, he said, "I don't plan to much. I just go where the spirit takes me." He really was. He had a notebook. It was full of ideas. "Whatever just pops in my mind." he said. At this moment in his life, by choice, he was now a real life adventurer. The storm that took away his home gave him an incredible new freedom-- and he rose to take it. Can you imagine? "I lost everything, guess I will just go explore the world... see ya! Also, anyone have a place for me to stay in <insert country here>?"
This fella was a bit older than me, and a former IBM employee. He was definitely a sharp cookie who was in fine financial shape. He was working on a new business model. I asked if it was in technology. He laughed and said no then said things about real estate that went over my head. There was a break in the rain... which was my cue to say goodbye and get going to the lab. But, by the time I used the little Paladin's room, the downpour had already returned. So I sat back down and we continued our talk....
Ever get that feeling that life was setting you up? That you were walking into some sort of "fixed moment in time" that had to happen. Like an unskippable cut-scene where you learn an important clue to the game. That's what this unfinished conversation suddenly felt like. Because he said something that struck me. Inversely, I said something that stuck him.... you could tell. You can always tell. There's that look like a deer in headlights followed by the panic usually reserved for someone that just found out they're about to have a baby.
Then the rain stopped....
The sun shined, which, I guess... meant the cutscene was over and it was time to get to work. I told him it was nice meeting him and drove to the lab thinking. When I arrived, of course, there was a line of team members waiting for me among a backdrop of a dozen new DDOS attacks. (Thank you for your patience during the server downtime.)
So what was the takeaway from that talk? Does every post need a tidy ending with a big explosive "aha" conclusion? Probably. It is important to point out the extreme irony that happened in this meeting. It was best illustrated by our books sitting on the table between us. Mine was a planner filled with the details of everything I needed to do this week. His, a scribble pad full of random thoughts with no rhyme or reason. Which is only funny if you take into account that he was a former, super structured, IBM guy-- and I was a "design games on the back of a paper napkin" pun maker. Now, we are both backwards, like two characters from one of those movies that had accidentally switched roles.
Over the next several months, that fella is going to go where the wind blows, and make an amazing adventure of it. He needs to rediscover who and what he is-- and at the stage of life he is in, that would be scary for a lot of people. Pretty incredible... and something to remember if life ever lands a critical hit on you. He is probably going to have hundreds of random deep talks like the one we had-- possibly impacting them as deeply. Me? I am going to toss my planner aside tomorrow and see what happens.