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7 Truths About Life and Risk I Learned From A Crazy Dude At Starbucks

Seriously, this guy was off his rocker.

Yesterday, as I sipped tea and made notes for the coming week, an odd man sat down beside me.

Starbucks is my default mobile office these days. I’m like a platinum preferred guest now. I’m on a first name basis with all the baristas within 5 miles of my house, and when I walk in, they start preparing my tea before I even get to the counter.
In the winter, though, Starbucks tends to attract an interesting clientele.
The most vulnerable and truly destitute don’t seem to make it in, but the vagrant youth and traveling homeless stop in during the winter to buy a cup of coffee and warm themselves before moving on.
This fellow, looking a bit down on his luck, sat next to me as I worked and began to mutter to himself as he scribbled in a notebook. I sometimes mutter and scribble in my notebook, so the only difference between us was the cleanliness of our clothes.
Pretty soon, he started loudly asking rhetorical questions like “How many people here are actually controlling their own bodies?”
After a few questions, it became clear he was actually looking for an answer and maybe wanted some conversation. Finding myself a little unfocused and having a hard time working, I decided to indulge him. I answered, “Approximately 60%. But I don’t know who’s controlling the rest.”
He replied, “That’s about right. And I’m controlling the rest. Want to know how?”
“Yes, I think I’d like to hear about that.”

What followed was an hour and a half of the craziest conversation I’ve ever had in my life.

I couldn’t help myself. Everyone around the store watched with nervous interest as I engaged this guy in a Charlie Rose style interview, leading the conversation with open-ended and sometimes uncomfortable questions, allowing him to build one insane and fantastic story on top of another.
Turns out, he’d stopped at Starbucks that day to work on his book about dark magic and how to control the human mind. He’d arrived in Portland a few years ago after leaving New Orleans where he and a small group of friends had been responsible for summoning Hurricane Katrina.
Now he’s building a small army of “enlightened individuals” preparing to lead the world into a new dimension (his words, not mine) where we all live thousands of years.
He told me about writing his book. He told me about making friends through telepathy. He told me about his love life and how he has a hard time with women.
Over the course of our conversation, he told me many fascinating and troubling things. But between his mad mutterings and exclamations, he actually said a number of things that struck a chord with me and my own life philosophy.
Despite being batshit crazy, this gentleman had a few poignant truths to share about life and how to live it to your greatest potential.
Today, I want to share them with you by attempting to boil our unbelievable conversation down to it’s nuggets of useful wisdom.
All in a day’s work, friends.

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1. Reality is what you make of it. If you think you’re a victim, you’ll be a victim.

Living on the streets, this fellow has had his share of people try to harm him. Luckily, his superior mind control skills have kept him safe and allowed him to stop his attackers.
He told me that, for a while, he had a hard time trusting people because everyone was trying to kill him. But then he decided it was bad energy to make himself out as a victim all the time. He told me whenever he started feeling sorry for himself, more bad things would happen.
Eventually, he realized he was living a self-fulfilling prophesy. So he decided to change his story and tell himself he’s a winner and people love him. Now he time travels in his sleep building a following for his group of enlightened individuals. No one tries to kill him anymore.

2. The world is a better place when people take charge of their own destiny.

Throughout our conversation, this guy told me how much he hates “sheeple”—people who do as their told, follow the crowd, and accept everything told to them.
That’s why, he says, he loves Portland. It’s a place where strong-willed people do their thing without worrying about what society says they should be doing.
When he meets sheeple, he uses his mind-control techniques to change their environment so they’re forced to make important decisions about their lives. If they choose poorly and take the easy way out, it will lead them to a life of torment. But if they take charge, it will lead them to enlightenment.
I asked him if he was using his mind control techniques on me. I was flattered to be told I didn’t need them.

3. Life is do or die. You absolutely must follow your dreams.

This guy knows what it means to follow a dream. I mean, he had a dream that told him to gather eight friends and summon one of the world’s worst hurricanes to clear New Orleans of its moral bankruptcy. He didn’t question it; he just did it because he knew he’d be paralyzed with splitting headaches if he didn’t do what his dreams told him to.
I asked him if he felt any remorse for all the pain and suffering he caused as a result of Hurricane Katrina. He said he didn’t and that those people got what they needed.
I disagreed with him on that. But he did make a convincing point: If you have a dream (that doesn’t involve wrecking other people’s lives…), you should do what you can to make it come true. Otherwise, you may regret it.

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4. You don’t need the whole plan to get started. You just need the next step.

When this guy was getting ready to wipe out New Orleans, he told me he didn’t know where it would lead him in the future. All he knew is that he had to follow what “felt right” for him, and that was his next step.
And, looking back, he’s decided it was the right choice because it’s lead him to Portland where his powers have only grown stronger and now he can affect even more change on the world (frightening…).
He says he doesn’t know exactly what’s coming down the line for him—he’s not a fortune teller—but that he knows exactly what to do today, tomorrow, and next week that will lead him the right direction for years to come.
His story was disturbing as hell, but I did feel a connection with this idea. I often fret about where my life will lead me in the future, but as long as my smaller, daily choices feel right, the future should work itself out.

5. Every loss in your life is actually an opportunity to grow.

This is a man who has experienced much loss in his life. Friends, family, possessions, perhaps his sanity. But he holds no grudges and doesn’t think himself a victim.
Instead, he embraces the loss in his life. He says each time he loses something he thinks is important, he finds it was to clear space to gain something different and better. This is an idea many can relate to, and one that’s also proven true in my life.
This was a poignant moment in our conversation.

6. Life is a marathon. You have to make progress every day, but don’t go too fast.

My Starbucks interview subject is writing a book about free will, mind control, and the new era of human evolution and enlightenment. Weighty subjects! It won’t be for sale—you can only get it directly from him because the information would be dangerous in the wrong hands.
I wanted to ask more about what the “wrong hands” would do with such information, but I didn’t want to stop him on his next point:
Life is a marathon. He told me he writes one page a day. Never more and never less. That is his pace. If he slows down, he’ll never finish his book. But if he speeds up, he’ll burn out and it won’t turn out as good as it should be.
He’s in a hurry to finish, but he knows he can’t rush himself if he wants to produce something great.

7. Everything should be as simple as possible.

Time traveling, mind control, and telepathy are incredibly complex subjects my interviewee told me. Too complex for the average person to understand or take advantage of.
And so his job is to simplify these concepts so the right people can harness them and bring a new way of life to Earth. It’s a very difficult job, he says, but he’s happy to do it because everything in life should be as simple as possible.
He told me the reason people can get away with selling snake oil is because, for one, so many people are sheeple and will buy whatever you tell them to, but also because snake oil salesmen try to make things complex so you have to buy from them.
He says if you want to make the world a better place, you should take something that’s complex, and make it simple for people. I thought that was particularly apt advice.

Truly deranged? Evil genius? You decide.

After about an hour and a half of chatting, this nameless gentleman I’d been relentlessly questioning exclaimed, “It’s time for me to get to work. Have a good one.”
He stood up and left the store without another word, leaving a small pile of garbage behind, along with a sense of complete confusion and wonderment in myself and those who’d tuned into our conversation.

Before he left, though, he handed me a small stone, told me it was programmed to match my natural energies, and that within weeks it would help me to attain my biggest life goals. If I ever needed his assistance, all I had to do was carry the stone with me. He’d be summoned through the energy of the universe and would appear to my aid.
I thanked him for the gift and, just like that, he was gone.
Some time has passed now since my interview, and I still don’t know exactly what to think of it. There were moments I thought he might be a genius. There were moments I thought he might need serious psychological help. There were moments I thought he might flip his table over and fly out of the store through a window with a jetpack.
I need more time to figure out what the hell just happened to me. But I don’t need any more time to know that some of the things he had to share were right in line with the rules of Smart Riskology and endeared me to this perplexing stranger.
In any situation, no matter how crazy, I try to find something I can learn from it. So far, I’d say I’ve succeeded at that.

I only wish you could have been there.

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Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3

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Written by Tyler Tervooren

tyler.tervooren@gmail.com'

Mastering my psychology. Ran a marathon on every continent. Organized 3 world records.

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