Several years ago, I met a man riding the bus on my way to work. He sat with an air of majesty among the horde of cold, soggy commuters. The wet blanket that cloaks Seattle in November could not dampen his spirit. His silver mane was finely coiffed and his mustache curled ever-so-slightly at the corners of his mouth. Staring off into space, he seemed almost to be smiling, as if he were recalling some funny story from any one of his seven or so decades on earth.
The 15 minutes we shared left a lasting impression on me. Shortly after I sat down next to him, he turned to me and remarked how lovely the weather was that day. His face was like softened leather creased by a lifetime of easy smiles. The sound of his low, throaty voice drew me in.
I asked why he took such delight in this most disagreeable weather and he chuckled. “What’s not to love?” he replied. That we are here, in this moment to enjoy it, was satisfying enough for him. It was his belief that one chooses to love or hate the weather, no matter it’s present state. Being upset by things over which one has no control represented a shameful waste of energy and opportunity.
At this, he lowered his head a bit as a furrow formed in his brow. He began gently stroking the sleeve of his suit jacket. “Take, for example, this suit. Of all that I own, this is my favorite,” he said lightly. His suit was expertly tailored and was quite unlike any I had ever seen. It fit him as though it were an extension of his being. It’s plum color lighted his green eyes afire.
“Gray, black and blue. A lifetime of gray, black and blue suits. White shirts and plaid ties.” He had spent his entire adult life donning the banker’s uninspired uniform, cursing the rain, cursing the bus and cursing the people on it. He explained how he had overheard a conversation between two young ladies wherein one said to the other, “Don’t wait until your 70 to wear purple.” The very next day he commissioned this exquisite suit.
He said, and not without a certain amount of glee, that it’s never to late to do what you please. His eyes held my glance for what seemed an eternity to fully impress this point: Your passion, no matter how late in life you discover it, is always worth pursuing. Whether it be wearing your favorite color, listening to a certain music, enjoying a particular food, etc., don’t let your age, your friends, your culture, anyone or anything be the obstacle that stands between you and your delight.