One thing many don’t realize about me is that my life is very different from the life I lived years back. After high school, I tried College; it wasn’t for me, and I wasn’t ready for it yet. So, I gathered my savings, got in my car and just drove. I traveled from city to city working odd jobs here and there to keep me afloat and get me to my next destination. The life I live is very different from that life, and honestly I don’t think I could do it again. I have grown to love my worldly possessions, and don’t know that I could live a life without my toys. What I do miss is the simplicity of it all though. Literally living life one day at a time and only worrying about that day. A life with no roots and no permanence meant I could take people or leave em. I didn’t have to worry about bureaucracies or playing nice. If someone was disingenuous or just a douche-nozzle, I would simply move on and discontinue interaction with said douch-nozzle; easy enough. This also made it easier to strike up conversations with perfect strangers knowing I had the option of pushing them out of my reality if it turned out we didn’t mesh. It allowed me to truly get to know someone for better or worst before I passed judgement, knowing that I could just as easily purge someone from my life as it was to let them in. This is what life without roots and permanence allowed, and I met some of the most interesting people and characters during my travels. I miss this. While permanence has given me friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime (for which I am ever so grateful), I find myself going through the motions and playing the bureaucracy game, but more importantly a senstion that I am forced to adapt to those around me. I have this gnawing feeling I am slowly being assimilated (resistance is futile) into a drone, and I don’t like it. So, I want to strive to not lose myself in the assimilation process. Make it a point to not engage in petty self-serving stroking of egos. Make it a point to seek first to understand. Be mindful to not purge others and make them feel like Others simply because they are new or foreign to the social circle I showed up with. Engage in conversations with perfect strangers even if they may seem a little out there without being judgy. Not engage with others, including my own friends, when they encroach into the judgy zone or maybe just call them out on it. So, my life is very different now than it was then. But I can still strive to be that go-lucky quirky guy I became living on the road. I miss that guy. I miss the amazing stories you would hear from those that were seemingly ordinary or seemed so out there that the natural inclination was to not engage or stay away. You know, kind of like a dude who randomly shows up around town and goes bar hopping…in a panda suit.
My first encounter with the Panda brought glee in what was turning out to be a really shitty night. Some found a dancing panda showing up at the bar totally awesome. Others rolled their eyes, assumed the dude behind the fuzzy suit was “weird”, a “freak”, or just “not right”. I thought it was delightful, but didn’t really engage in conversation beyond getting a quick photo snapped with him, after all, it was still a dude in a panda suit. So, the second time I ran into Mr. Panda I had to ask about the back-story behind the suit. Turns out, he found out he was dying. So, naturally, he decides to buy a panda suit. Why? So, he can bring a smile to the faces of those he crosses paths with. So, he can just be goofy in a time of uncertainty and what could be full of morose Yet, he chooses goofiness, so he can make others smile. One comment from his Facebook profile reads, “I’m a dying man just trying to make people happy before I go…I love making people smile. That’s all I want to do.” Now, maybe his story was just complete bullshit as many have pointed out to me, but I choose to believe in the good intentions behind it regardless of how accurate his story may or may not be. So, meeting a panda at the local dive bar = FTW! Taking the time to talk the Panda up and Hearing his back-story and what he’s gone through = BONUS! It really helped snap me back into focus. The realization that one doesn’t have to live a vagabond lifestyle to experience amazing encounters like this; one just has to be open to them.