A surprising (or, maybe not so surprising) conversation!
After a networking event that wrapped up while rush hour was still in full force in Los Angeles on a recent Friday, I decided to wait out the traffic by taking a seat at the hotel lobby bar, and get a bite to eat. As I munched on my fish tacos, in walks a young man who takes the seat to my left, and orders a beer. We get to talking, and quickly I discover that he is visiting from England, and I share with him that I’m a “local.”
Early in the conversation, it becomes clear that this is not going to be any ordinary chit-chat. Way beyond anything as mundane, trite, or unoriginal as “do you come here often,” he turns to me and, in earnest, instead asks me this question: “Are you fulfilled and content?”
A not-so-usual question
I paused for a moment, let his question land, reflected on my answer, and said: “Yes. I am.”
What a wonderful question, I realized. What a blessing, as well – to be able to answer in the affirmative – I realized, right there, in that very moment. I must say that I didn’t necessarily know, at the surface level, that “Yes” would be my answer. A beautiful feeling of acknowledgement and gratitude bubbled up for me, however, as I realized that my answer was true – my truth – and that it arose from my inner knowing.
Each of us, of course, has our own story, and is traveling on one’s own path. And, I suppose we’re never truly “done” with the pursuit of the answers to life’s questions, meeting its many challenges and facing the various tests along the way. There have been many times in my life when I would have answered this question with an unequivocal, “No.”
I was moved, really, by so many aspects of our little interchange – including:
Wow, even for a longtime friend or loved one to have asked me that question would have been a bit unusual, let alone hearing it from someone who up until just a few minutes earlier had been a complete stranger.
How intriguing, I pondered, that he didn’t ask me if I was “happy.”
Fulfilled and content – now those words, then and now, too – resonate much more deeply with me. They carry with them much more gravitas and come across with much more texture to them.
There was a rich quality to his question. And, it drew both of us into the conversation at an even deeper level. It brought the conversation, dare I say, to a soul level.
Spiritual Seekers Unite
He also asked me if I considered myself to be religious. Jeepers, how did we get into this topic of discussion so freely and effortlessly? The way he asked it, the question didn’t seem intrusive, nor did it feel at all confrontational. While certainly having had my own experiences with formalized religion over the years, I would say that mostly I consider myself more of a spiritual seeker. I have been one for some 20 years or so, at least in terms of my conscious awareness of that term. (I remember reading Elizabeth Lesser’s book, “The Seeker’s Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure,” and that title drew me in, for sure. I devoured that book and absorbed many of its teachings. To this day, it sits on a nightstand in my guest room, for visitors to enjoy.)
Quickly, I realized that he too was a spiritual seeker.
He shared with me that he had what he termed a rather strict, dogmatic, fundamentalist religion thrust upon him, which caused him great discontent. He told me that he has since left that religion. It was not easy, he said – but, he couldn’t remain in a religion that seemed to leave no room for interpretation or free expression. He did say, however, that he realizes that we are all here for a “greater purpose,” and that we are all part of a “bigger picture.”
The conversation then turned to our mutual love of astronomy and telescopes. With his having revealed to me that he was from London, I shared with him my trip from a few years ago, when I headed up with a friend to the Royal Observatory. I was pleased to hear that he had previously visited Los Angeles’s own observatory up at Griffith Park. This conversation just kept getting more and more interesting! We tied the cosmos to our own spiritual adventures, and we reflected on the wide range of possibilities.
I suddenly realized that we hadn’t yet really formally “met.” I asked him his name, and he introduced himself as Richard, to which I quipped that that seemed to be such an English name and a regal one at that. He smiled at my not-so-veiled attempt to be somewhat learned and okay, maybe a bit cheeky.
I could tell, however, that he really wasn’t particularly satisfied with his current life – and that seemingly he had been pondering for himself whether he was indeed feeling fulfilled and content — and that the answer was, not really.
Now that he had removed himself from what he felt were the tight reins of that one overbearing religious group, he wasn’t sure what was next for him. If it wasn’t that, then what was it he was seeking, instead? He’s still determining that for himself, he confided.
“I hereby declare tomorrow as ’Richard’s Day’”
He mentioned that he had the next day, Saturday, completely schedule-free before he would be heading back to the United Kingdom on Sunday. As he seemed to be feeling rather glum, I offered him an idea. I said: “Well, that’s perfect then, because tomorrow is “’Richard’s Day.’” I felt compelled to declare it so. Why not? Who needs to rely on the greeting card companies to designate which days we celebrate? Okay, so he did look at me a tad quizzically, but he soon warmed up to the prospect. We explored ways that he may wish to spend the day, on his terms. “You get to choose, you know, right?” “Yes,” he agreed – and his mood seemed to brighten.
As I got up to leave and started heading back out to my car, I left him with this:
“Tomorrow morning, I’ll be envisioning you starting out on your big adventure, spending YOUR day as you like! It’s gonna be great!”
Okay, your turn:
Would you consider yourself to be “fulfilled and content”? And, what if you designated tomorrow as YOUR day? How would you choose to spend it? I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!