I attended an Al Jarreau concert this week and it got me thinking about the first time I heard and fell in love with Jarreau's music and how that experience shaped my definition of success and stress management practices. I have written a lot about the power of small actions (the Butterfly Effect) and this is a good example of how people can have a profound and lasting impact through small actions or gifts.
I was about 20 years old at the time and living in Florida. My roommate and I went to a club to dance. We were both basically broke (no money) and nursed our drinks for hours.
We went our separate ways in the club and this did not alarm me until it was nearly closing time and I could not find her. After looking everywhere, I concluded that she had left - probably with someone. The bad thing about this is that she had driven. AND I did not have money for a cab. AND Florida did not have public transportation to speak of. I was stranded well beyond walking distance to my apartment.
I realized that I needed to ask someone for a ride home but did not want to make a request that seemed like it was more than I intended (no Quid Pro Quo, if you know what I mean). I observed a well dressed middle-aged man at the bar. He seemed smart and poised. I decided to ask this man for a lift to my apartment.
I walked up to him, explained my situation as humbly as possible and made the request. He was gracious and agreed to help me out. I worried a bit that he might not be as nice as he seemed, but I did not have a lot of choices. This was before people walked around with cell phones, so there was no way to call or text anyone for help.
As we went out to the parking lot, he pointed toward the driver side of his car - a Mercedes two-seater convertible. He got in, let me in, started the car and put down the top. It was very cool.
As we got onto the highway, he turned on the cassette player (cassettes here HOT then, having just replaced the 8-track in cars). His choice of music? Al Jarreau, of course. The songs Mornin' and Boogie Down filled my head with a fabulous vibe and I was hooked.
Fast car, cool breeze, upbeat jazzy tunes. The nice man did not say a word during the drive and I sat back in the passenger's seat and soaked in the experience. This is what success is, I thought. As he reached my apartment parking lot, I thanked him and we parted ways. He was smart, gracious and had impeccable taste.
When I need to reconnect to a feeling of success or when I need a nudge myself out of a mental funk, I play jazzy tunes in my car, and let the breeze carry my hopes and intentions through my breath and body like prayer flags in the wind. It works every time.
We all have metaphors for success - those places or situations that seemed to you to be emblematic of how you want to live. Take time to reconnect to these places and experiences and reengage in your goals.
I never saw that man again and I bet he never knew the impact his generous ride home had on me.