An Egyptian, Australian, Belgian. German and I (from US) sitting for hours over dinner and after dinner talking about how to learn what you love and go for it. Over tofu (? we weren’t sure what it was – maybe mixed with eggs) with lots of rice and french fries the discussion started. I noticed some veils of judgments I had about Germans and about Egyptians – subtle ones from cultural biases and things I’d heard in the past.
“What is your favorite place or weather in nature?” Nick from Germany asked. Sherie from Australia said, “A volcano!” I said, “A mountain with wildflowers, with a stream running through it.” Nick from Germany said, “Thunder.” Ahmad said, “When the clouds go in and out revealing the moon.” Julie said, “Being in the sun.” Nick said, “Your favorite place reflects who you are. Sherie,” he explained, “likes big, exciting changes.”
I asked, “What do you think about my wildflower meadow?” Nick commented, “You like things wild, not ordered and regimented…”
“And colorful,” I added. “What about Ahmad? Ahmad might like the mysterious.” Ahmad confirmed by his look.
“And Julie, the sun, a quieter experience,” Nick said. “And I like dynamic change.”
We’d met at the International Adventure Hostel in Little Italy in San Diego, and after eating at a small table outside in the “smoking area” went across the street to a house behind which was part of the hostel, sitting in a living room type area. Nick led us in talking about how to find out what we love, how to be the small percent of people who live in sphere of their genius/passion/talent. Nick suggested an exercise he had from from a book by Barbara Sher, writing down what you would do if you only had one year to live. I was surprised that he, from Germany read this American author whose books I had read in the U.S.
“Write down your ideal day,” with details. he also advised, an idea he had received from another author. I commented that author and publisher Marc Allen also suggests that exercise.
Seated in a circle were five people: Sherie from Australia, who is 28, makes furniture and is traveling for five months. She has big round, confident eyes and wore a braid at the side. She loves SeaWorld. Julie, on the couch near Nick, was sad about the recent attacks in her home country of Belgium, had had her credit card info stolen in Vegas. With a feminine, peaceful face, thick light brown hair and a prominent chin, she said she is on her way to try a new life in Canada. Ahmad, with black hair and eyebrows, is hoping to find employment at a petroleum company in the U.S. Nick, with blonde hair and a grin, consults about climate change and how LED helps. He told us he is in San Diego for a congress about climate change.
Nick catalyzed our imagination of what we might be and do. Moment by moment we all knew something special was happening, all of us here together. My veil of prejudice about Germans changed to such admiration for his motivational talents and generosity. Hearing about Nick’s greatest passion, to do what you love, I nudged myself to share about my greatest vision, that I believe everyone has inside: the unity of the planet.
When parting, Ahmad said to Nick, “I want to be your friend always.” At that tender moment all distrust of him and about his being Egyptian melted off.
I went back to the four room dorm where Julie, Cherie and I slept and spoke for over an hour with our fourth bunk-mate, Maiti, from Spain, about relationships and love, and somehow the subject went on to her belief in an Energy and I told her about my teacher Baha’u’llah’s definition of God as “the unknowable essence, the central orb of the Universe.” She connected with this and somehow I told her about the story of a dear spiritual teacher I love, the Bab.
Maiti is thin, an actress from Spain who has moved to Mexico. She is radiant and luscious and vibrant, looks like the lovely deaf actress Marly Matlin, who I told her about – we looked up photos of Marly on her phone. We talked until 1 a.m. Then she climbed up to sleep on the bunk above me on the bunk bed. I felt her move during the night and morning with a vibration of the bed.
When I was about to leave in the morning for a work assignment at a career center in a mall for the homeless, I wanted to give Maiti something – something special, but all I had that I wasn’t attached to was beautiful yarn. While she slept I broke off a piece of this turquoise and purple woven yarn and attached it to the side of her upper bunk in a bow.
I got back to L.A. late last night, and wrote on facebook to Julie asking about her flight to Canada, and saw a like from her and Cherie on a post I’d just written about our evening talking together. Seeing their photos and thinking of Maiti and Ahmad and Nick I almost cried.