On July 31st, the day after I started writing this story I went to get a poke bowl for dinner at Da Poke Shack (yelp link) downstairs from the condo I was staying in while in Kona. The shack was closed and I was contemplating my next move in my grief for missing my shot to get a bowl when I turned around to head back to the car. There was this guy who rounded the corner and looked equally bummed that the shack was closed. I said something or he said something. Then he said, “You want to get some food or something?”, or something to that effect. I said, “Yeah…I was just going to get my car to go get something in town.”, or something like that.
I‘m not sure if he suggested it, or if I did. But before I knew it we were walking to my car and driving the 5 minutes into “downtown Kona” – would you call it that? While we’re chit-chatting I can hear him talking and I can hear myself listening to every word through a *filter. I was watching every move, listening to every detail and listening to myself wonder why I invited this stranger into my car. The last time I was on the Big Island I’d driven down to South Pointe and jumped off the end of the Earth there – my wife was not pleased about my disregard for my own safety and the fact that I could have been killed. To me, this person in the car was a much greater threat, potentially.
He told me how he’d just gotten over from Maui on a short flight and just checked into the hostel across the street from my condo. He was a young-ish “looking” guy so the hostel thing made sense. He told me how the manager of the hostel recommended Da Poke Shack since he’d just gotten over and hadn’t eaten and was starving. He told me he was NYPD, an inspector or something like that. He looked kind of young, but what did I know. He was open, looked honest, willing to share himself – all the perfect traits of a potential serial killer. I planned different moves in my head for when the shit got real. I hadn’t made myself that vulnerable since I’d opened the front door to the guy that ended up punching me in the throat.
We started out by stopping at Huggo’s after hastily trying to decide what each of us wanted to eat. It’s tough enough with people you know. I was driving and had some ideas about where we could go (he’d just gotten to the island after all and supposedly had never been there before – likely story for a serial killer) so I took some liberties. I knew where I’d already been several times so I wanted to try something different. After sitting there a while, and looking at the offerings we decided to move on. No worries said the bartender.
Lava Java it was. Sure it was my fourth visit in as many days but I liked the beer selection, I had gotten to know (as much as you can really know your waitstaff) the bartender and some of the waitresses, and I knew there would be people there. I was starting to get comfortable with Steve already, figuring he probably wasn’t going to kill me but there was one discrepancy in the story that I was still trying to resolve (can’t recall what it is right now, and I resolved it so it doesn’t really matter).
We sat and we talked about ourselves, and life and whatever. He told me about his Dad and I told him about mine. He told me about work and I told him about mine. We talked about why we were there. We talked about investing and retirement. This guy was totally open to whatever was going to happen. He said being in Hawaii had opened him up – made him open to seeing the world in a new way. He told me about his mentor and his experiences in the hostel on Maui and how they had all these activities over there that a bunch of people were just involved in and everybody was doing activities together with complete strangers and how he met a Swiss girl – how she was coming over on a flight the next day or something and how they were just friends and hanging out. I told him about the Island Goddess Pele and how she draws you to your true self and I told him if there was anything he should do, he should go jump off the cliff at South Pointe. And I gave him my other travel tips for experiencing the Big Island…turtles, black sand, green sand, Captain Cook. He showed me pics of his time with the La Jara Band – a bunch of Hispanic NY cops who play music and create unity with the community that way. How he has no musical talent whatsoever but somehow he’s like the band’s groupie and social media specialist. Honestly, he was an amazing guy to randomly go to dinner with. I’m glad I got the poke bowl for lunch the next day, but even if I hadn’t it would have been worth missing it to meet Steve.
At some point, Steve asked me if I had any advice. Based on how young Steve looked to me even though he was already contemplating and planning what’s next after retirement from NYPD, I’m guessing I look older. Maybe that I have some advice. Nobody ever asks me for advice – not on investing, life choices, whatever. I told Steve this story that I’m writing. The condensed, not every word has to have some purpose because you never know how it will land in the listening out there when it’s the written word, version. The sitting at the bar having a couple of beers version.
I told him my number one piece of advice. The thing that if I were on my deathbed and they were asking for my last piece of wisdom. I told him how I want to tell my kids this piece of advice and really have them hear it. I told him how there is all kinds of nasty stuff written about my advice out on the internet. How it really is kind of strange in the normal course of life…rather unexpected. How I’d spent all this time after the fact trying to make sense of it and understand what exactly happened. How I didn’t mind if he took my advice or not – but since he asked – here it is. I told him how I think it’s free because he’s a cop (a fact I later followed up on and found out that the current offer is that it’s discounted 20% if you’re a police or fire and some other things – teacher or student maybe).
He said he’d look into it.
Today, as of about 6 hours ago, he’s taking my advice and I’m psyched.
*Filter footnote: The filter was pretty clearly “What the hell are you doing with this dude in your car? All that love BS you talk about and being vulnerable as one of the requirements to have love be present and experienced is all well and good but this is the real world man. This guy’s story is way too good to be true, is he gonna kill you, rob you, molest you, whatever. Is he all doped up on the crystal meth or some other whatever it is they’re all hooked on these days? I dunno, I can’t look over at his eyes because I’m driving. NYPD cop – what a perfect story to make you feel more comfortable.” And on and on like that.
And man was it loud that day – like I could hear it – and I could hear him. I was really present to both things, just letting the listening be. Hearing what it was saying, and looking for clues for when to open the car door and roll out, and being with this guy that was there in the car out of nowhere. I’d spent the better part of the previous 3 days just really being and being with “my self” in Hawaii where the ocean really drowns out all the other noise. This “listening” just wouldn’t and even shouldn’t shut up – it really is just there to protect one – all evolution style lizard brain protection like. I kept hearing it, and just letting it be, and listening to Steve.
II. Already Always Listening™ – This part of the story is an example of where, by being able to distinguish the “Already Always Listening – “People, situations, and our approach to life alter dramatically.”