Lessons From The Cab Driver

Tonight I took a taxi home from the GO station. Usually I try to avoid talking to the driver and plug into my headphones. Lately, i’ve decided that this is a negative habit and we should really be engaging and connecting with the people around us.

The ride began with a huge sigh coming from the front seat. Before I could ask the cabbie what was wrong he answered, in a thick German accent, “time for coffee”.

I assumed that this was the beginning of boring small talk. I don’t drink coffee, and I wasn’t particularly interested in the fact that he preferred McDonald’s over Starbucks or Tim Horton’s. What I didn’t realize is that this was his opening to an extremely profound point.

This is what he told me:

“A coffee is not just a coffee, do you know what I mean? It is 5 to 7 minutes for yourself. It is for you. It is something you do for yourself — and that is very important. Wether you are reading, writing, or thinking of something. Take the time for yourself. These people, they are in such a rush, willing to buy any coffee because it is quick and convenient. You see them walking on the street, yelling to the world “hey look at me! I drink coffee!” but they aren’t enjoying the coffee, they are focused on what others think of them and their next move.”

It became apparent pretty quickly that the driver was talking about more than just caffeinated beverages. This message resounded with me deeply. So many of us are caught up in our goals and daily lives that we forget to take time for ourselves. It is extremely important to meditate. I define meditating as anything you focus intently on that transports your brain to “auto-pilot”. It is valuable to reset your mind and give yourself a break from the routine stressors. We need those daily moments of self-reflection and relaxation.

His message continued:

“These people. They are all work, work, work. They want the money, and the house and the car. But where is life in that? You do all these things. You work, you buy, you show off. But when are you living? It is important to work hard and achieve but take time to live. You have all these things, but did you get what you wanted? Do you feel how you want to feel? Health is the most important. You can’t enjoy nice things when you have no health. A man in poor health with a Porsche and a mansion — he will tell you that he will trade it all to live another day. A poor man in good health, he can go on a bike ride! He can enjoy the free pleasures of life, which are the most abundant.”

I’m not sure why the driver felt compelled to communicate this thesis to me. I’m glad that he did. It really doesn’t matter what occupation someone has or how well they can speak English. Every individual is a fountain of knowledge and unique experience that we can learn from.

So; enjoy life, focus on health and don’t forget what is important.

Next time, take the headphones out, and listen to that crazy rambling cab driver. He might just have a point.