lessons in life

Lessons in Life Can Only Be Learned the Hard Way

I’ve been contemplating these past few days about what will happen when one finds his or her passion. This was the focus of a recent blog post that I’ve been trying to finish.

Reflecting made me realize that once you find your passion, you will want to tell the world.

Since my discovery of writing more than a year ago, I’ve never really felt so much love in my heart to scream about it to the world. But that has changed recently.

At the same time, I also felt undeserving of being called a writer. But then I realize that I write, and writers write. And if you ask my little one what I do, he always say that I’m a writer.

Then one day I finally declared to the world who I am. Here’s what happened.

More Than a Ride

I stared down at my phone, waiting for the black car icon on the map to move towards the direction where I was standing. I needed to go to the airport to take a flight back home from a work trip and I was eager to make my way.

The ridesharing app indicated that the car was only 7 minutes away. But for what felt like 10 minutes already, the black car icon didn’t seem to have moved at all.

I started to worry as I see each person who was also waiting for a car, leave one by one. I was ready to cancel this ride until I saw a star beside the driver’s name with the comment:

“Known for great conversations.”

My curiosity got the best of me and instead of cancelling, I proceeded to wait. After making this decision, the number of minutes to arrival indicated by the app started counting down.  

A classic Lincoln town car rolled in front of me. The driver greeted me and declared that he’ll take care of putting my luggage in the trunk. When I got in, I was impressed by the car’s pristine interiors and black leather seats.

As we start making our way to the airport, the driver and I got into the usual chatter about the road closures and traffic. He expressed his opinions about government budgets, the law, and how everything revolves around one thing: money. At some point, I asked him,

“What lessons have you learned about life?”

I then explained, “I write articles on life lessons.”

Then the driver said, “You have to go through hard life to learn real lessons.”

“What do you mean?”

I then asked, “That you have to go through it to learn a lesson?”

“Yes. I don’t mean for the small things. I mean for the big serious lessons. I experienced that.”

He continued with his rant about how everything is controlled by money. Politicians, the law and the judicial system. I just sat there, listening queitly.

“I once cussed a judged in court,” he said.

“Why? What happened?”

With those two questions, he proceeded to tell me his story.

Lessons in Life Can Only Be Learned the Hard Way

He and his pregnant wife came to the US in the 1980’s to start a new life. They left behind most of their possessions. Apart from some personal belongings, the cash they brought with them was worth only a mere 52 cents.

Even though he was an engineer in his home country, his diploma and experience were considered useless.

Despite this, he was able to find work so that he can feed his family and build a life in their new home.

Eventually, he started his own business which in no time grew and became a success.

From only having 52 cents in his pocket, he eventually employed 28 people, have clients in multiple states, and he now drives luxury cars.

He proudly declared, “I was a big guy”.

However, about 10 years ago, the downturn in the economy affected many of his clients. Each client started declaring bankruptcy. For him, this means that they could not pay what they owed his company.

Then one day, after not having paid his mortgage for many months, the bank brought him to court.

Facing a judge in court, with almost nothing left on his name, he pleaded with the judge, “Please give me 60 days and I will turn things around.”

The judge told him, “I will check with the bank if they agree with this.”

This angered him. And being the type of person that he is, he confronted the judge, “You’re not a real judge.”

“Why did you say that?” the judge asked.

“Because you can’t do your job as a judge. The bank already doesn’t agree with me so they brought me here. Why will you ask them if they agree with my proposal?”

“Get out of this court,” was the last thing that he heard from the judge before he left the court that day.

As he expected, the bank didn’t agree with his proposal. On the day that they were going to take his home away from him and his family, they gave him 5 hours to take all his possessions out of the house.

He then told me, “I didn’t take anything from the house. What can I do with 5 hours?”

When I caught a glimpse of him through the rear-view mirror, I saw deep sadness in his eyes that wasn’t there earlier.

“I sent my family to live with relatives. I was half homeless.”

“I’m sorry,” was all I could say.

He arrived in this country with 52 cents in his pockets. He turned that money into millions. The day he lost his house, he only had $18 of those millions left.

He’s been slowly rebuilding his life since he lost everything. He doesn’t want a lot of money now, just enough for him and his family to live a comfortable life.

When we arrived at the airport, I said to him, “Do you know that in the rideshare app, it says that you’re known for great conversations?”

His eyes suddenly lit up and he said, “I didn’t know.”

“Well I want to tell you that it’s true! Thank you for the great conversation!”

He then said with a smile, “I know you will write it in your article.”


lessons in life

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12 comments On Lessons in Life Can Only Be Learned the Hard Way

  • Hello Sig,
    I enjoy reading your post, you are getting better!
    Redemption story is always inspiring.
    Keep it up.

    “Tragedy is an unfinished comedy.”
    ― Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces

    • Hello Marie,

      Thank you! This is probably the post that I’ve written in the least amount of time. I wrote it on the plane on the way home. The memories of my conversation with the rideshare man and the emotions were fresh. The man was a hero in his own story. I couldn’t help cheering for him!

      Best,
      Sigrid

  • haha and he was right about you writing it in your article! Well, he has been through a lot and then learnt about contentment I guess.

    Thanks for the great article, sure makes one think! 🙂

    • Hello Hiby,

      You are right there. After all the ups and downs in his life, there was contentment on his part at the end of it all.

      I’m happy to hear from you again! I hope you had a wonderful holiday and new year!

      Best,
      Sigrid

  • That’s very tough, his story. What I do think is lovely though is how quickly humans can open up to each other and connect. Thank you for sharing <3

    • Hello Suchot,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. We can learn a lot from each other if only we open ourselves to others. It’s always a wonderful experience to be able to hear other people’s life stories.

      Best,
      Sigrid

  • Wow what a lovely post. What a man you had the pleasure of meeting. What life lessons he has learned x #MixItUp

    • Hello Rosie,

      He was truly a great storyteller but what’s even greater is his life story and how he remained strong despite of what he went through.

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Best,
      Sigrid

  • This is a great example of the lessons we learn from just simply taking the time to talk to others and engage instead of looking at our phones. I enjoyed your telling of this man’s story and agree with him! Pinned and visiting from #seniorsalon linkup

    • Hello Debbie,

      Thank you for reading and for pinning this post. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I tried my best to express the feeling that I felt during my conversations with the man in my story. I hope I did him justice.

      Best,
      Sigrid

  • Sigrid, I loved hearing this man’s story from your perspective 🙂 I agree, the best lessons that stick with us are usually learned with experience, although sometimes you can learn from someone else’s experience.

    • Hello Sarah,
      Thank you for stopping by my blog. It’s always nice to see your comment! You’re right. Sometimes, we don’t even take notice of the lessons that other people share with us until we’re going through the same situation.
      Best,
      Sigrid

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