Thursday, October 04, 2012

Conversation with a taxi driver

I often meet interesting cab drivers when I travel around on taxis in Seattle (usually going home from a late night research work). They have interesting perspectives to share - How they got here or what they want to do in life, etc.

Today I had one such experience. The taxi driver was from Somalia.
He said that he was studying architecture at the Seattle University. He had purchased
the cab he was driving with his brother. The cab cost him about 300 grand. He told me that
he could repay the loan in 3 years using his earnings.

What fascinated me was the conversation that followed. I told him that it seemed like a great idea - You  have your own cab, you drive on your own terms and you also get to study the remaining time and also pay for the tuition. Why weren't his friends doing the same? He told me that they were afraid, they thought it was too risky to take a loan. They were comfortable with what they were doing. On the other hand, he wanted to go back to his country and create a positive impact. He wanted to rebuild his country. And that was why he was studying architecture. He encouraged his friends to do the same. They told him that he was acting older and more mature than his age and perhaps he should enjoy his life more. He told me that he was very passionate about his architecture course and I could sense that passion in the conversation.

His family repeatedly told him that he would never graduate from college. That was their belief.
No one in their near ancestry have been to college and so shall it be. Beliefs. How they affect how we behave and act in this world. How wonderful these beliefs can be and how crippling they can be too.
My taxi friend told me that in his case, his family's belief (or disbelief) in him only motivated him further - He would be very passionate and get a college degree and not just stop there - He was going to go home and rebuild his community.

How wonderful was his conviction that he would go back and affect a change. That's the kind of passion I like to see and hear in people. Do things passionately, let fear not cripple you.
Believe fiercely in yourself and your abilities and let not people's opinion cripple you, your dreams and ultimately your work in this world. As my taxi friend says, when you encounter fear, you face it - You look right into its eye and stand tall and you shall have taken a big step in life.