Monday, June 10, 2013

Love Today, Gone Tomorrow: Is That Really Such a Terrible Thing?

"Life is a sequence of moments, each of them a journey to the end. Live your moment, right here, right now... and then let it go." -- my friend Rodrigo, on Facebook

Yesterday while I was reading Rodrigo's motivational status update, as Jesus Jones's "Right Here, Right Now" played in my head, I thought back to a sequence of moments a few hours earlier. I was having drinks with my favorite Melburnian girlfriends at Windsor Castle, our top Sunday-afternoon hangout, when a complete stranger approached me and, for once, asked me something I don't get asked every day.

"Are you Nick?" He was looking at me hopefully, then glancing over at his friends in the background who were looking on expectantly.

I didn't know what to say. That was a first. People were always mistaking me for someone else, but never for Nick. I'd always liked the name -- especially in it's sexy Argentine form: Nico -- but I don't exactly look like one. Maybe Nick was a blind date who fit my description: tall, black guy. There aren't so many here in Melbourne, but there happened to another one on the patio yesterday. It had to be him or me.

"No, I'm afraid he's not me," I answered. Although I wasn't Nick, I started to feel a little guilty, like I was really blowing off my blind date after getting a good look at him.

"Really? You're not Nick?" He leaned back, perhaps to get a different perspective, then forward, squinting. You look exactly like him." He was wearing an expression that was a mix of disappointment and disbelief.

"I must have a doppelgänger then because I'm Jeremy."

"Oh, I'm sorry to bother you then, mate. Well, have a good time." He looked back at me several times as he walked away, as if he still wasn't quite sure that he'd been mistaken.

I wondered who this guy Nick was. Was he just some random black man who, in the eyes of the disappointed guy who was heading back to his friends, looked like every other random black guy, or did I really have a double in Melbourne? Wait, was he even in Melbourne? Maybe this wasn't a blind-date situation. Maybe he was some Aussie celebrity I'd never heard of.

I got some answers a little later when I ran into the same guy in the men's restroom. He apologized again, and explained that it was just that I looked so much like this guy named Nick. I considered asking him to step away from the urinal, but my curiosity was piqued. I wanted to know more.

"Do you follow basketball?" He asked.

"No," I responded, resisting the urge to add that not all black people are into dribbling balls.

"Nick used to be a basketball player, but now he's a motivational speaker." He mentioned a last name, and I repeated it in my head so that I would remember to look him up later. When the guy pulled out his iPhone and offered to show me a photo, I promptly forgot the surname that I'd no longer be needing.

After fiddling with the phone for a few moments, he presented it to me. "Ah, so there's this infamous Nick." He was an attractive enough guy and well dressed, but he looked even less like me than Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Tyrese and Nipsy Russell, all black celebrities to whom I've been compared in the past.

"When I saw you, I was so sure you were him," the guy continued. "From a distance, you have the same flamboyant elegance." He pointed to the Burberry scarf wrapped around my neck, though it was hardly chilly in the loo. I still thought he must have been wearing beer goggles to have made the connection, but I liked the "flamboyant elegance" bit, especially since he hadn't said "elegant flamboyance." I was hardly putting on the camp at this particular moment.

"Well, if it means anything, I've always kind of wanted to be a motivational speaker."

There I said it. It wasn't exactly a lie. It's actually a career path I'd wondered about since I read Robert J. Ringer's Looking Out for #1 as a teenager. Every time I read about another motivational speaker or came across one of their books, I wondered what qualifies someone to call himself or herself that. Was there a specific degree one had to pursue? Was it just a matter of having uncommon wisdom and an excellent point of view?

As I pondered the art of motivational speaking, the Windsor Castle DJ, whose eclectic Sunday playlist had consisted of retro R&B and rap gems like Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison," Michael Jackson's "You Rock My World," Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message" and Will Smith's "Get Jiggy with It" had moved on to the "Tangoterje" remix of KC and the Sunshine Band's 1976 single "I Get Lifted." As I admired the sexy, hypnotic retro beat, I noticed its lyrical content. It would make the perfect soundtrack for my first motivational seminar.


I wasn't just grasping at straws. During one of our many deep, meaningful conversations over too much booze at DJ Station in Bangkok, Rodrigo had once accused me of giving great advice. Alas, like so many wise old birds, it's easier for me to dish it out than apply it to my own life. I was far more likely to do that with someone else's wise words. Ironically enough, I'd have my next opportunity a few hours later when I came across Rodrigo's latest status update on Facebook.

"Life is a sequence of moments, each of them a journey to the end. Live your moment, right here, right now... and then let it go."

It's a foregone conclusion for anyone who has mastered the art of the one-night stand. But who wants to be that guy? It's a far more beneficial idea for hopeless romantics, the ones with hearts still beating whose sensitivity always gets in the way.

Those are the lovers most likely to wake up the morning after, look over at the beautiful stranger lying next to them, or about to get on top of them -- or under -- and suddenly have visions of forever and ever love dancing in their heads. They're the ones who always try to turn foreign affairs into something they're not -- stories that are to be continued even after take-off commences the return trip to everyday life.

I've been there, done that more times than I care to admit, and although I know it works for some people, it never has for me. As I'm about to become a more frequent traveler than ever -- 12 cities/countries in 12 months will come with an increased potential for the here today, gone next week holiday phenomenon known as the holiday fling -- Rodrigo's words may become my new mantra. I already apply them fairly religiously to some of the things that come in and out of my life -- good songs, movies, meals, etc. -- so the final challenge will be putting them to use with the people who do, too.

Who knows? If I ever do embark on a second career as a motivational speaker, I might even steal it for my very first lesson in life, love and lust. Happiness 101: The Ephemeral Nature of Simple Pleasures. If they were meant to last forever (and they rarely are), they will. Just go with them. Enjoy them while they last... and then let them go.
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