March 14, 2012
Did you ever have someone tell you something and then later you look back and realize they saw the truth much clearer than you yourself did? At those times, you might think one of two things if you think at all 1) it’s a self fulfilling prophecy or 2) the person saw more than you did. Either way, when you take part in the action that was foretold, you are fulfilling prophecy. It’s what I’m doing now.
Flashback to 2003 on the eve of the 2nd US war in Iraq. After September 11th, I’d abandoned the mainland and bailed to Hawaii where I started managing hostels and running kayak tours. I was the happiest I’d been in years and life felt really good. It must have reflected in my character because before I knew it, I had hooked up with this incredibly hot flight attendant who fed every bit of my ego with her soft body and admiring words. I had to have her.
So, when she left Hawaii, instead of just waiting for her next furough like I should have done, I followed her back to Portland, Oregon and set about trying to prove that I was good enough for her. The funny thing is that I didn’t have anything to prove, her hard body and soft words were all the proof necessary. But let’s face it, I was stupid.
So I left Hawaii, went back to Portland, got a job as a stockbroker, passed my Series 7 and Series 63 exams and began wearing a suit to work everyday. Let’s face something else – flight attendants like island flings with kayak guides, layover lays with pilots, and then later a settled relationship and mine already had her settled relationship – I was just a fling. So there I was, wearing a suit, hustling people to buy J.P. Morgan and Krispy Kreme Donuts and falling into a deep depression as I worked on the finishing touches of Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond and dreamed about sleeping in a hammock back in the Kalalau Valley surrounded by six naked women of multi ethnic backgrounds (true story by the way…).
The flight attendant didn’t want me, I felt like I was selling my soul as I told people that war woud make the market drive to new heights (which, by the way, it did), and I didn’t have much in common with my colleagues in the brokerage despite the fact that I was damn good at what I was doing. I probably would have stayed with it and made lots of money, bought too many houses and then lost it all except for one day, I was trying to close a prospect and suddenly he started spouting things like no other prospect before him had…
This guy had assets of $31 million and I was trying to get him to move $30k into my hands so I could prove I was better than his other brokers. On the verge of closing the deal – I could feel it. We were there. And suddenly, this multi-millionaire blurts out “Man, you shouldn’t be doing this work.”
Now, I hadn’t told him much about me aside from I was a shit hot broker but this guy spits this out at me. “This is what I’m good at,” I told him, “Let’s make this transfer and I’ll prove it to you.”
“Have you ever been to Istanbul?” he asked me. I told him I hadn’t. At this point, this hard businessman starts waxing poetic about the amazing blues you can see when you gaze into the wakes of the Istanbul ferries as they cross the Bosphorus. He starts rhapsodizing about the konaks along the shore. He starts talking about the exotic smells in the Egyptian spice bazaar and the way suitcases rumble as the wheelie bags are dragged over cobblestone streets.
I made a couple of attempts to get him back on track, but he kept going and let’s be honest – he had my attention and I wanted to hear more. Finally, it was me listening as he described what seemed like a dream to me back then. Finally, he said “I’m not going to buy any stock from you. It wouldn’t be right. You might stay in this life if you did.”
I tried to laugh and urge him back to business, but I knew he was right. My heart wasn’t in it. My heart was transported to where he had taken me with his words. Istanbul.
“You need to quit this job and go manage some hotel looking out on the Marmara Sea,” he told me. “You need to walk away while you still have your soul and go restore one of those konaks along the Bosphorus. Run a guesthouse for savvy travelers. Get out, man. Just do it. Go.”
I tried to bring him around but he wouldn’t listen. Maybe he felt the same way.
I don’t remember his name. I don’t remember where he lived. I wonder if he remembers me – because three weeks later, I walked out of the brokerage never to return. I gave up my dreams of the flight attendant, went back to Hawaii, and eventually now, nine years later (because 9 is the magic number), I sit here staring out at the Marmara Sea from the hotel I’m managing in Istanbul, I remember his words. I’ve just looked at my journal from back then to make sure I was remembering things the right way and yes, the multi-millionaire was somehow prophetic about my fate, about my future.
All this time, I wondered where I was going, but apparently I was just heading towards fulfillment of this prophecy. Now, I just hope the psychic who told me I would be very rich and the other psychic who told me I would win an Emmy or Oscar (how the hell is that supposed to happen?) were right too. As for the gypsy in North Carolina who told me I would have a wife in the East and a wife in the West (one light and one dark, she told me) – I’m thinking one wife is plenty. But, like me sitting in this old Ottoman Hotel – perhaps I’m already headed there and just don’t know it yet.
Look out Oscars, here I come. Fulfilling prophecy like an inevitable train chugging to the station.