If you've lived more than 5 years on this planet, you've likely pondered what it'd be like to predict the future. In my struggles for finding what I was trying to say about the future, without speaking about the future per se, I stumbled upon a quote that legit, 100% stopped me in my tracks like nothing I have sought out before. Shit?! This kicked me off my chair. I had instant tears... my eyes are still filled with the pressure of emotion.. Considering what I was searching for and found, it's nothing short of coincidental.
Always trust your gut. It knows what your head hasn't yet figured out.
I guess my heart also knew what my head hadn't figured out either.
This year has been nothing short of self discovery while dredging through the grind of action all while hoping like a Mother-F I was on the right path. I was making considerable, life altering career changes that brought a tremendous amount of vulnerability and insecurity like nothing I've experienced before.
One of the pivotal moments of forward motion was when I took my truck into the wrap shop to get its second wrap in two years. Taking all business contact info off was a big risk, not to mention to then spend money, money I really shouldn't have been spending, all on a new one with NO contact info on it.
For months now we had been designing a new truck wrap unlike anything the team had done before. Much like the intention of tattooing the word "grateful" on my arm, the new wrap was to be a positive, moving message of patriotism and sacrifice. As the days clipped by I could feel that this was the right call.
Rolling into the shop that morning I was filled with an excitement of unknown-certainty.
Yeah, roll with that oxymoron.
I couldn't see the path, but there was a vibration I was following. Something deep in my core said it was this way. And without asking questions I kept after it.
I vividly remember telling the designers that someday I can see someone taking a picture of this. I'm not sure when, or even how, but I can feel it. *is why within the last minute of design we included a QR code.
It was a strange feeling driving back home. I had spent countless days picturing what it would feel like saying what I was saying, as loud and gentle as I was.
Gosh damn it was the right call...
I remember my first wrap...
I remember seeing a guy go out of his way to drive past me and honk his horn at me with a giant thumbs up!
My first time driving it in the daylight. As soon as I pulled off my exit, a passerbuyer stopped before making his right turn. He didn't move until I looked at him. There he is, left arm out the truck, he was out so far that the side of the window cradled the rest of his body.
And as big as big can be, he was showcasing a huge! thumbs up!
Damn! the dopamine hit I got from that was overwhelming! I knew it. Positive message received.
Earlier that morning, my neighbor was walking his dog. As he approached me he said he wasn't sure if he needed to bow or pray. hahah! As he saw the back of the truck he complimented the intent, but followed up with, that's really sad. I told him I know. Is why it's so damn meaningful.
Come to find out, a month or so later, his wife tells me in passing that I inspired him to, for the first time, get a Veteran license plate for his car. My buddy is in his mid 70's and is a Vietnam Vet survivor.
Wow?! ... totally hit the feels on unplanned motivation.
A lady about to cross the street in a parking lot stopped and encouraged me to move forward. As I engaged with her, she crossed her arms over her heart and nodded her head and then pointed at me.
While loading up wood at Home Depot, a man walked by, saw the truck and nodded with acceptance.
Throughout these many months of having the wrap I have had to condition myself to always keep a lookout for neighboring drivers as they may be looking for me to acknowledge their support. This has also made me look in my rear view mirror to keep a pulse on the surroundings. One morning after dropping off Tristan at school, a large lifted, black Chevy truck was positioned in a way that made me feel like I was getting checked out. I meandered over in my lanes, sure as shit, he followed my same turns.
I was like.... hmm, am I being followed?
this was new.
As I pulled in, he pulled up right next to me.
Okay, this is cool..
I was on the phone and glanced back, in doing so he drops his window and has a posture of talking to me. I tell my buddy I will call you right back. I wandered closer to him. His truck is still on as he's talking to me. It's lifted high enough where I am looking up to this man.
He says, I just had to come tell you that I love your truck.
Ah, thank you..
No, thank you.. I spent 25 years in the Marines and your message means so much to me. As he's talking to me he breaks down in controlled emotion. He presses his fingers to eyes as if to keep the tears inside..
I just gotta say, thank you for your truck. I just love it. In a fit of controlled emotion he's searching for his phone, asking if he could take a picture. He pauses and says I don't.. I followed up by, whats your phone number? I'll send you a picture?
Ah man, thank you. As he's telling me his number you can see his eyes are watery and there's a bit of a knot in this throat as he's engaging with me. Man, this is not what I expected! But my heart was on overload!
I told him I'll send you some pictures! Hey! I even wrote a blog post about the truck and why it was so important to me, would you like me to send it to you? Yes, please! :)
The conversation wasn't more than a few minutes. But damn dude! I reached out and shook the prideful Marine's hand, said thank you for your service! and you have a great day.
Man! I would have NEVER thought about the impact. gives me chills!!!
The Friday before we did Marc's Birthday Bash must have been spiritually aligned with the universe that day. Headed out for a quick errand, at a stop light, two different people rolled down their window to have a mild conversation of thanks!
One had a family member who served, the other was also a combat veteran. Applause of thanks!
Later that day while leaving Safeway, I was trailing behind a mother and daughter. I was far enough to 'ish hear them, but I could read their body language big time.
With a bag in her hand, she lifts and points at the tailgate as they approach their own car. Turns out there was an empty space between our vehicles. As they started to load their trunk, they continued to talk amongst themselves.
"oh! there's even scripture on there! wow!".. by now I was rolling up to the truck too. The neat thing about the truck is that when I unlock it, it has a definite "unlocking" sound. There's a neat mechanical clank that even unlocks the tailgate.
In doing so I unprovokingly drew attention to myself. They said I really like your truck. I said thank you. Just as I was about to round the corner, the passenger popped out of the seat and asked if she could take some pictures...
There it was...
I had a feeling this might happen... I hoped it would happen. Yes, I know they're talking to me, waving at me... but it's not about me. It's about living a life worthy of their sacrifice. It's about Chris Pike, Marc Lee, Rob Guzzo, and all the countless service people who've sacrificed their lives for the betterment of a purpose greater than themselves. In absence of close family, the special people in my life who are not here, it's also a reminder to me about them.
Gosh damn I wish I could call on them.. but I can't. When I'm feeling down, unsure, vulnerable, sad... I lean into those words "living a worthy life".. it brings me back up! Although they are not here, I feel like they are. I like to believe that they are looking down smiling.
Watching this unfold was inspiring. I was totally soaking this up at a deep level. With my bags in hand, I paused and stayed out of the frame as if to showcase its reveal and said yes! Thank you! :)
I pointed at the QR code and said, if you scan this there's a lot more information about the story behind the truck. "Oh yeah?!" Thank you! Yes, I'll want to read that!
Living this moment was deeply motivating to me. I've been on this new path, down the unknown, constantly questioning if this was right. The struggles haven't been blatantly difficult, they've been annoyingly difficult. Like trying to make headway in the dark, always stepping on Legos, or hitting corners. You just want to quit - shit, it would be easy to quit! The setbacks suck!.. It is my gut that tells me to step forward. So, I keep going.
As silly as it sounds, simply watching this lady squat down to get the correct angle of the QR code picture told me, it showed me that I was on the right path..
Just keep going.
One evening on my way home, stuck in a long ass line waiting for a three way stop, I'm keeping a pulse on the happenings as a driver would normally do. I can see the couple behind me have a conversation amongst themselves. I would have missed it had I not been in the moment. As if to not draw attention, the wife pops her hand outside the car holding her cell phone out as if to take a selfie picture in the mirror. With a fluid motion, she swings her arm back in, leans over and shows her husband. While watching the road, he gives a positive nod.
Being there in the quiet, I could process their call to action. Their only view was the tailgate... Like my neighbor said, it is sad, but the reality of the significance makes it compellingly moving.
I did smile knowing that the message was received; Chris, Marc, and Rob live on in tribute.
Just recently, literally across the street from this same Safeway, my windows are down, I'm enjoying the morning with no tunes. All of a sudden I hear a man yelling!
To my left, strolling down the side of a Church building, a construction worker is driving a tractor. He's lifting his hand in the air like at a rock concert! He's totally trying to get my attention, but his gestures and excitement are derived from the message on my truck!... windows down, I stick a big ass thumbs up to him! He responds with a head nod and the hand gesture of a surfer crushing a huge wave! Then casually, but with spirit, drives on to where he was going.
Up until now, all of these events I've experienced solo. Not that I need an audience of passengers to feel what I have, it's just hard to convey the feeling.
That all changed this Thursday.
Sitting at a stop light with my little family, someone literally steps out of their vehicle. Now, I know you know this feeling when you see it. You're like, what's up? I mean the light's gonna turn green man.. hurry up!! Or worse, the anxiety of "oh shit!" is there gonna be a road rage street fight?
So there we are, bam!
Seen in the side rear view mirror... A big body in motion is feverishly is approaching my truck.
A large-build older man is hobbling towards me. My heart kinda sank!
Calming down, I watched closer...
Held at face level is his cellphone.
He's in the middle of traffic, taking pictures of my truck?!
Processing this I'm quite overwhelmed. Chas and Tristan are also watching this unfold. The light turns green and still, he's there changing positions as he captures more angles. I'm compelled to not rush the situation, so I keep my foot on the brake. Cars start passing us, but he's still there. Meanwhile, NO ONE is honking. The small jam up appears to also be supported by others.
In a quick minute, he runs back and jumps back into the passenger side and they're off. I'm talking to Chas.. man, that's odd... but how cool, right?!
In a flash, suddenly, there's this quad cab silver Chevy truck right next to me. All their windows are down. It's filled with a bunch of late aged, biker like dudes. There beside me with no shame in the world, the same man holding his cell phone rolling a video as we're driving.
Remembering this now, I wish I would have taken a picture of this happening!
A picture of a man taking a picture!
For about two minutes we drove parallel to a man holding his phone outside a moving vehicle taking a video. I can only imagine what the drivers behind us are thinking as they're seeing this continue to happen since they've been here just as long!
He's looking at me with his head perched back squinting his eyes making sure my truck is in the frame of his video as he combats the rush of wind hitting him in the face. His silvery beard waves in the wind like streamers on the side of a little kid's bike. I'm watching the driver look back and forth as he's trying to maintain the same speed as I am so his buddy can get his video clip!
Holy cow man!
As anticipated, we rolled up to a stoplight..
I'm slightly unnerved too.. this hasn't happened to me.
I know that I need to drop my window to engage with him. I pop the button as the window slides down. The man is sliding his hand down his beard like a Sensei would to get it back in order. He asks, "hey!" Do you mind if I post this online?! No, not at all buddy, thank you!
You can tell he's winded like having ran a race.. he must have ran back to the truck super quick! It's obvious he's supportive of the message, but he's looking forward, then back at me. By now his arm is casually resting on the side of the truck. His hand and fingers are tapping the outside of the window.
He looks over at me and asks, did you serve?
I said, no sir I didn't. They have just had a profound impact on me.
I have chills from my ears down to my legs..
He takes a moment to pause and collect himself.
He says, "well, those that have, tthhhannk you..."
As he ends with the "thank you", you can tell he's crying, but doesn't want to show it. Chas is watching this unfold, she puts her hand on her chest and says to just me, "ahhh, he's crying"..
All he can do is look forward, look back at me, nodding his head up and down while his body rocks to and fro with a matched rhythm in his hands as he taps the outside of his truck. Periodically in this emotion his index finger is pointing at me while the other fingers continue to tap with an occasional look.
The buddy behind him leans forward and puts his hand on his shoulder followed by a gentle pat of support.
I would never have anticipated the impact it would have on others. For about three minutes we drove in sequence. By now their windows were up and they were slightly ahead of me. No surprise, the license plate was an Arizona Veteran plate.
As if in sequence, I veered right, they veered left. We both peeled away on the same road headed opposite directions. All I was left with was that the message touched someone, a stranger I've never met, at a very deep level. Watching the truck get smaller as it drove further into the distance, I had wished for myself that despite the traffic, I would've stopped, gotten out of the truck, and shook his hand.
Looking back on that sunny day in late October when I took the first wrap off, my head could not process what my gut was telling me at the time.
Following that forever-memorable day in traffic, the dust started to settle on the clarity of the path ahead...
As if knowing instinctively, I'm going to keep heading this way.
It took me two Friday's to put this together btw.
It's a memory I will cherish forever.
Thank you for going on the ride with me.
Side note, regarding the lady I called 911 for, I reached out to her a couple days after to check in on her.
She answered promptly saying:
Yes. Thank you. I'm much better. How much do I owe you?
I wasn't looking for the clouds to part, but I'd be lying if I said I was hoping for a little more dialogue. It's okay though. I'm just happy I was there that day to help her. Thank you so much to the many who reached out to me that day. It meant a lot. :) There's a lot to be grateful for in this life! If you need a buddy or a soundboard, Chas and I got you. Have a grateful weekend friend!