Paul McAleer

A most memorable cab ride

Paul McAleer

"You'll never forget our conversation," the cabbie said. "We've got a little time to go so I'll make it entertaining for you." He wasn't kidding.

Right away I knew this man, who I would only perhaps know for all of 40 minutes, would be talkative. I was riding an emotional high from IA Summit (that's another post) and was in great spirits, so I was quite willing to talk in lieu of pretending the cab was being driven by a robot.

He opened by flattering me - always a good move - and then said he would ask me questions. Questions I would remember. Questions I would ponder. Later, I could ask him some. I did. He did.

We touched on smartness, and how it is defined. I said that I consider smartness to include education as we know it (school), knowledge of the heart, and self-awareness. (I love the rule of three so it made sense that I broke it down into three.) We talked about the difference between self-awareness and being able to act on that awareness. He said the former was consciousness, true consciousness. I agreed.

At one point he said that while I was smart, I was uneducated. I understood this and agreed: I attributed it to my lack of travel throughout the world. I called it ignorance, and I admit that I am ignorant about a great many things.

When it was my turn to ask something, I took a deep breath. So much! So much I could ask him. "Look," he said, "You can ask me anything. We'll probably never see each other again, so you can ask me anything you might not ask someone you know, someone you love... because I have a different perspective." I let my breath go and asked him if he separates his work and non-work life, which is something I talked at length with Whitney about. His answer was surprisingly fast: "People who think they can separate the two are foolish." He elaborated on the illusion we create by pretending we can separate these two parts of ourselves. We're whole people, he said. I agreed.

Our conversation weaved and continued, flowing much like one with a good friend would. We talked about the perception of reality and how much it varies from person to person, yet how intolerant we collectively are of that. We touched on religion, faith, and belief in what is visible and what is not. We talked about fear: recognizing it, naming it, and making peace with it. And the heady concept that all that could be, every idea, exists in the universe and is simply waiting to be unlocked.

You know, simple stuff.

The timing of this was all fortuitous. I could have very well ended up in another cab and flicked around on Twitter until my iPhone's battery died. Instead, I had an emotionally and intellectually stimulating conversation with a person I may never see again.