Everyone needs a Bill in their life.
Bill is one of my most valued colleagues, yet for many years, I did not even know his name. I simply referred to him as “the Dude.”
Our first encounters were tacit, just two figures on an empty stretch of beach, staring at the horizon. A few years later we finally met, each standing ankle deep in the break, evaluating if the current was too periculous to fully submerge. We simultaneously looked at each other from afar, and without speaking, returned to our corners in the sand. In forgoing the swim, we initiated a communication.
Over the years those distanced glances evolved into nods, the nods into smiles, smiles into banter, banter into friendship. At first, I considered it something akin to a “summer camp friend” or personal lifeguard. Yet, more recently, I have come to realize that our interaction is much more profound.
From the exterior, Bill and I have little to nothing in common. He drives a baby blue vintage convertible, me a Huffy beach bike. He talks on the phone; I write. He smokes cigars; I run. He eats sandwiches, I eat salad. Different ages, upbringings, genders, and backgrounds echo our presumable inability to relate. Yet, it is that seemingly disparate surface that provides an illuminating foray into what it should mean to be human.
Bill and I show up to work every day, wind, rain, or shine. At our office, we contemplate the waves as philosophy, the ocean as religion, the horizon as faith. We debate the weather not as a space filler but as an art form, careers not as labels but as adventures, people not as gossip but as a symphonic fuel for this stage, this horizon, we all share. No pretense or judgment, preconceived notions, media engendered conflict, or unnecessary tension. Our only prejudice is ignorance, our only true need the line right in front of us. Our chats are pure, unpoliticized, uncensored, free, from each of our souls into the wind. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is.
In fact, Bill and I have never even asked each other the heinous, “What do you do?” For that there is no need. We live. Live as two souls observing, existing, and believing.
In today’s era, everything is evaluated, calculated, quantified, divided, and then politicized. We allow technology to monitor every aspect of our existence, from apps for work productivity to sleep quality, caloric intake to concentration. We gladly strap on hardware such as rings and watches like caged animals to track, sorry, I mean enhance…, our movement, breath, and personal energetic “battery.” We value our worth and those of our friends with one dimensional thumbs ups, stars, !! exclamation points !!, and minuscule digital hearts.
None of this measures our humanity or evaluates our soul.
At our office, Bill and I have developed an analog app that keeps the soul in check. It is a multi dimensional software that evaluates how human, how faithful, we are being. We have built it on the horizon, the one line that unites, not divides, us all. The horizon that pulls together what we can see and what we cannot, the tangible and intangible, the physical and the spiritual. A limited yet limitless delineation based on evolution and unity, the horizon resembles our existence, both singular and collective, defined while ephemeral. In reality, it is the one technology we all need, and it could not be more old school.
In this unprecedentedly complex world, my time at the office with Bill serves as a reminder of what each of us holds at our fingertips every day – the integrity of our soul. Not politics or economics, sports or consumerism, fame or fortune, headlines or digital posts, but the quality of who we are as humans. By believing in the horizon of humanity and trusting in the force that connects us all - indestructible, insurmountable, uncensorable, immeasurable, and immutable - we aspire to something Tom Petty wrote, “If you can’t change the world, maybe you should just change yourself.”
Bill is here now, about two hundred meters through the misty fog to my left. As I get a whiff of his afternoon cigar, I realize he is, in fact, a lifeguard, fearlessly defending the horizon and guided by faith. A faith anchored in integrity, liberty, and a belief that even if you cannot see the future, you can always see the horizon. As I look out at its majesty, I give thanks, thanks for being here with Bill, two souls belonging to and of the same sea.