Yesterday, I met a couple strangers at IHOP. Courtney and Matt were coming from Portland, Oregon on their way to Portland, Maine with the intention of meeting new people all along the way. They were recently married and this unusual trip was actually their honeymoon.
The dynamic between the two was fun to watch. I couldn’t do it justice, so I won’t attempt a description. The thing that I can say is that they certainly make a good team. It was obvious that that had different ideas, styles, and skills, but there was a common love for adventure that formed a powerful connection and helped them share this dream—and hopefully many more.
I listened to them describe how their idea had been conceived, and the long, committed process they endured to plan and prepare for the trip during the following years. Perhaps the most moving part for me was a small piece of paper that Courtney had with her in a notebook. Years ago, when she first starting thinking about this idea, she began writing down the first draft of a plan that now, a few years later, had become an inspiring reality.
This is where it all began.
Being truly creative takes the courage to face an empty canvas. It’s not often in life that people are willing to start with nothing and embrace an entirely unique and truly original idea. Perhaps the greatest challenge is taking the first step into the darkness or making the first stroke of a painting.
Artists are rarely valued during the creative process. It’s one of life’s great ironies: the world loves its things, but is leery of those who create them. Courtney and Matt talked about the skepticism that some had for their idea. Weren’t they a “little too old” to be doing something like this? Why not go somewhere “nice” for your honeymoon? I was reminded of what Steve Jobs once said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
To me, the most profound thing said that morning was the answer they gave to my question about what they felt their goal or purpose in life was. Matt answered first and Courtney concurred. I expected two people with such above-average ambition and so much love for life to have some clearly defined understanding of life’s meaning or their greatest goal. As Matt explained his thoughts, he mentioned the power of living intentionally. It was clear they understood the value in that. But it was what he didn’t say that really surprised and impressed me. To me, it seemed as though he was saying that his meaning in life was to continually search for meaning, as if the question was all that really mattered. At that moment, I realized that for me, I want my life to be about staying openminded and always committed more to asking questions than idealizing conclusions.
Thinking outside the box, doing things differently, questioning the ‘quo, exploring new places, meeting new people, and following your dreams can all be very challenging and are often met with more failures than success. Maybe it’s better to fail big than to succeed small.
To learn more about Courtney, Matt and the journey, check out their website: breakfastwithstrangers.com