I’m going to say something and I really hope it doesn’t come off as insensitive….But…
Old people love me.
Hear me out. First of all, I’m not talking about people who are 50 or 60…because hey…that’s young! I’m talking 90s. OLD. But I’m going to be honest, they flock to me. Drum up conversations like we’re Bunko buddies. I think it’s because I have an old soul, and they feel as though they’re conversing with a peer. Like they’re chattin’ it up with a fellow Red Hat Society member. I know…like I said…I’m a catch.
But there I was, at the fish counter doing the grocery shopping for my parents, when this cute little old man with wirey hair and a big ol’ grin, came up to me and started talking to me. He advised me on how to cook salmon to perfection, complimented my hair, and then casually proceeded to tell me his life story.
And let me tell you, I love talking to the elderly, because I always leave with a little nugget of wisdom or a new perspective.
Anywho, he shared how he’s 91 years old and moved to the US from Germany at age 24 with “diddly squat.” [His words.] He fought in World War II for the Germans, and then flew 40 missions for the US against the Soviet Union.
He told me about how he was the first millionaire in his family, and has three Mercedes an a Porche — pronounced “Porsh-UH.” And how he buys stuffed tilapia every night because “his cat likes it,” and he shares it with her. And yes, he was talking about the animal. 🙂
Now I’m gonna be honest, at first I was a little annoyed. I was in a hurry, and was doing something on my phone, and here comes this guy out of left field. I’m a New Yorker. Slower walkers and slow talkers are way up there on my pet peeve list. It’s right up there next to people who eat smelly takeout on the subway. Just. No.
But listening to this stout, weathered old man, I couldn’t help but just love him. You could tell he was hungry for some conversation, and so gosh darn it, I could spare a few minutes.
But he said something to me that really stuck out to me. He looked me dead in the eye and said, “Go after the world, grab it, and run with it.”
And that really hit me. Here was this 91 year old man telling me to grab the world? It just almost felt a little disconnected.
And I thought about it the whole way home and for a lot of the rest of the day. What could have prompted that jolly little cat man to tell me to grab the world and run with it. That’s not what someone of his…maturity…typically says. I mean, it had to come from somewhere. What in his life would have made him internalize and believe that?
And I thought about it and thought about it. And he had obviously seen a lot of death. Come close to it himself, probably – in all the wars he participated in.
Grab the world and run with it.
This, coming from a self made millionaire cat man, who rolls up to Kroger in a Porche.
This man gave me that advice, because he had done that.
He had gone after the world. Literally. He left his family and friends and life in Germany, and moved to America with nothing. And he built a really good life for himself.
That was the world that he went after. And dagnabit, he did what he set out to do. So good on him.
It made me think…what is “the world” that I’m going after?
Really. It sounds like a simple question, but when I stop and think about it, what is it that makes me get up in the morning? What gives me purpose? Fulfills the longings of my heart.
And the more I thought about it, it’s not money or cars or the latest handbags or Kardashian whereabouts. Although, if that’s yours, then more power to ya.
I’ve learned more and more here these past three months after my mom’s stroke, that “my world” has changed. Ask me back in 2016 before all this happened, and I would have a drastically different answer…something along the lines of, acting career and fabulous outings with friends and loved ones, with faith coming in a distant third.
But today, I’m singing a different tune.
Today, “my world” is love. The love for my family. Love for my friends. And love for Jesus.
Because when you’re sitting in a hospital room with an unconscious mother, you learn real fast what’s important to you.
Go after the world, grab it, and run with it.
Again, as has been the norm here recently, God’s timing is just impeccable. Because as I was relaying this story to my parents that evening, what comes in the mail? But a notification letter that I’ve been accepted into SAG – the Screen Actor’s Guild – the union for actors. Which, if you know anything about the entertainment industry, it’s a big deal. It’s what I’ve worked for six years for.
Here I am on the cusp of the “jump off point” of my life, and leave it to God to literally present me with two opposing “worlds” on the same day.
God, once again, you’ve outdone yourself. I’m chuckling at your sneakiness.
I don’t know why I was supposed to run into that man today. Why I was supposed to pick up that sacred salmon. Maybe he was an angel? Maybe he was just a socially-deprived veteran with an affinity for cats with a sophisticated pallet.
But when we left, he looked at me and said…”I’ll leave you with the German’s Rule of the Day.” And with a wink he whispered, “Stay beautiful.”
If he only knew…
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