Take a moment and think about all of the places you go in any given day. What about in any week? Every one of us has a list of events, activities and little out of the way nooks where we are regulars, the faces seen every day, the names that people know. We all occupy these places, the intersections of our own personal worlds in an infinite universe, day after day and often we don't even notice the people next to us. How many hours do we spend in our regular spots, and may never really get to know the other people who are always there.
Mark Trigonoplos and I are in the same places so many times in any given week it's a wonder we haven't sat down like this before. We know so many of the same people. We both worked in insurance, and yet our paths crossed so many times but we never sat down and talked. This is the truth of connection, it is so much easier than you think. The odds are there is someone next to you on any given Tuesday that you haven't really taken the time to get to know.
We sat down for breakfast at Daps Breakfast & Imbibe, a place where Mark has had a Friday morning breakfast ritual for a while. He's a regular here, it's clear in the first minute. Introductions flow, people stop to say hi, this is a slice of his world. We not only share similar experiences, we see the world in similar ways, he has just come to those conclusions 8 years earlier than I did. Our 30's have proven to be great years. We don't se ourselves in terms of years passed, but years to come. Neither of us are natives to Charleston, but we have adopted it as our home, though we marvel at its little idiosyncrasies, the slower way of everything as opposed to the places we had previously lived.
We fall into a blur of conversation and story swapping, fueled by cup after cup of black coffee, working through breakfast plates at the counter like a couple of guys in a movie's diner scene. It's fair to say we are friends within seconds of our arrival. In the sales world, they tell you that food helps endear people to you. Trust is built through breaking bread. It's why so many business lunches are scheduled, because it is absolutely true.
It is the same when you meet without an agenda. Friends are made over coffee and breakfast. True story.
My morning with Mark could have lasted far longer than it did. We covered a lot of ground. Both of us reminisced on our times in Texas, our journeys to Charleston, our enthusiasm for the gym and on our professional lives. One of the most fascinating things about Mark, among many, is that he loves his job. Truly. Insurance is his first real career. He knows a lot about it and he really does love it. It's not an easy business, believe me I know. A lot of people drop out of it, because the conversations are hard to have, but Mark has them and is happy to do it. He's the one in a million who found that first job and is happy.
A couple months ago, I would have been in complete envy if this happiness, but that has all changed. I love what I do too. I left a job where I wasn't happy to pursue something that I loved. It's an amazing feeling and it is, as Mark and I both agree, what we should all be doing. Mark tells me how he can't understand why people keep doing things they hate. Why not just quit? It's not that hard, it's just that our own minds get in the way.
A major point of connection between us is our drive to live life happy. Neither of us view money as the key to success. We spend a while talking about how people should live life, balance. He's a selective workaholic, choosing when his job will be his primary focus, while at other times living is the priority. A full life is his goal and he is definitely living it. I could write a book on the tidbits of wisdom we both fired back and forth this morning alone.
In Whitman's poem, O Me! O Life! he writes one of the most famous lines in American poetry.
"That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse."
For years I spent my time trying to figure out what my own verse would be, just like most of us. I pondered my purpose, thought about the life I wanted and so often forgot that there are verses before mine and after. Verses that exist at the same time as my own, but I was not listening.
Mark is an incredible reminder that we should take the time to listen to the verses of others, without regard to our own for a moment. We should become regulars, and welcome others to join us for one cup of coffee, or five.
(And now the moment you have started to wait for...)
Favorite Dinosaur: Triceratops (first time we heard this one)
Why: Choose something different, that others aren't choosing, but it's also ready to get after it and charge.