Last updated on July 11th, 2022 at 01:11 pm
I was browsing through the Bi-Rite grocery store in the Mission District in San Francisco, California standing by the mounds of bright juicy red tomatoes and dark green avocados when I spotted him at the front register.
Those dimples were so familiar. The close-cropped haircut. I knew this face!
Tim Ferriss, the author of The Four Hour Workweek and The Four Hour Body, was shopping at Bi-Rite. Now the question was: should I go up and say hello?
He was with a lovely slender woman with long dark hair, olive skin, and freckles, and they were canoodling. I didn’t really want to interrupt.
But he is an author I admire and a fellow Princeton graduate, and it felt like too good of an opportunity to simply let it slip by. I had to at least say hi.
Tim and his beautiful companion carried their groceries out to the car and set the bags down by the side of it. I took a deep breath and made my approach.
Are You The Real Tim Ferriss?
“Are you Tim Ferriss or just his doppelganger?” I asked.
“Both,” he said.
“Okay, I’m Tim,” he said, smiling and extending his hand.
I introduced myself to the lovely woman with him as well, and we chatted. I told him that I was also a Princeton grad and a fan of his books. I told him that I’d just been reading his book The Four Hour Body and testing out the kettlebell workouts.
I refrained from asking the woman he was with about the chapter on the 15-minute female orgasm, and how that experience was for her. That didn’t seem like an appropriate “just met you at the grocery store” conversation, somehow.
I was struck by his presence, how much energy he radiated, and how charismatic he was. I asked them if it would be too “groupie-ish” of me to request a photograph. “Of course not, sure let’s take a picture,” he said. His lovely friend positioned us so we were in good light, and snapped a pic.
The wind was blowing my bangs, and I felt like my eclectic San Francisco kooky outfit looked a bit silly. He looked great. But who cares! It was a photo with the legendary Tim Ferriss. Of course, it occurred to me afterward that I should have captured his info and asked to interview him for this story (d’oh!). How silly that we sometimes miss the obvious things to do in situations like this.
However, I figured I can simply send him this link now with the pic, and make my interview request.
Validation Via Coincidence
Either way, bumping into Tim felt like validation from the Universe. Two of my big dreams this year are completing my book and becoming fully “location independent” through my life coaching business, so I can live and work from anywhere.
Tim is all about making life a giant experiment, and all about optimizing health and life. He’s all about living your dreams on our terms and bucking convention.
Somehow bumping into him felt like total validation that I am “on my path.”
And Yet More Validation On The Path
Then I met another amazing soul just ten minutes later. I had headed to Dolores Park to soak up some sunshine. I lay down on the hillside, facing Church Street. About 20 feet away from me, a man had spread out blankets where he was displaying books, jewelry, and clothing. I decided to go take a look.
“Hi, my name is James,” he said. “And you are such an amazing creature that I would spend my life bowed down at your feet if you would let me.”
Well, thanks, James! James said that the books and jewelry were available for sale or donation. He used the money to plant flowers in Haight Ashbury, he said. I spent some time perusing the book selections and ultimately picked out four. All of them were spiritual books, one by Gary Zukav, and one by Neale Donald Walsch of “Conversations With God” fame.
I had $8 in my wallet and asked if that would be enough. He said that he generally tried to get an average of about $5 per book, but was happy with whatever I could give. He did mention that he hadn’t eaten yet that day. This seemed plausible, considering that this seemed to be his livelihood, and considering how thin he was.
I told him that I planned to buy myself a “Divine Veggie” grilled sandwich from the cafe across the street, and offered to buy him a sandwich and a drink. He took me up on it.
Picnic in the Park
We spent the next half-hour enjoying a brown bag lunch on the blankets, munching on veggie sandwiches and sea salt potato chips. He told me about his family and his life. His mom took her own life when he was three. His sister drank herself to death three years ago. He had a life spotted by tragedies.
He said that he paid $50 per week to rent a room in the Mission, and took the money he made from selling things in the park and used it to plant flower gardens. He said that he also had traveled with the carnival for more than 20 years.
James had a deeply lined face that showed a lot of wear and sorrow for his 56 years. He had a gray goatee and hazel eyes. He wore a jaunty cap. The little pushcart that held his possessions said “Angel” on it.
Just The Books I Needed Now
At the end of our lunch together, James said, “You saved my life.” “I need to start eating healthy,” he said, “or I am headed for a heart attack or a stroke.” “I think you came here just so I could tell you how amazing you are,” he said, “how luminous, what a bright light.”
Isn’t it funny how the Universe sometimes sends us the most beautiful and unlikely messengers to tell us just what we need to hear?
I took the books home that I bought from James, and poured through them that night. Most were about how we co-create our reality with God or divine energy or the Universe, whatever you wish to call it. They were all great reminders that what is most important is the vision we have for our lives, believing that creating it is possible, and being in action on our dreams. The books also emphasized that embracing our challenges is important because they are also stepping stones along the way.
Give Thanks For the Coincidences
In the course of one afternoon, when I decided to wander in the Mission, one of my favorite San Francisco neighborhoods, I was able to “save a life” and also met one of my personal heroes. Both experiences felt incredibly validating.
I had that sense of “being at the right place at the right time.” I had come to San Francisco to spend my birthday week here, dancing and enjoying time with friends in my favorite U.S. city. And I stumbled onto these unexpected gifts of time with Tim and time with James.
I think when life delivers such unexpected “gifts” we have to say thank you to the Universe, ask what these gifts mean, and bless them.
What Do These Gifts Mean?
For me, bumping into Tim showed me that I need to keep pressing on in getting my book finished and living my own happy, unconventional life. This Princeton graduate has created exactly what he dreams of and is making a great life for himself by showing others how to do it.
And James reminded me that we are all divine co-creators and that we are here to help make each other’s lives easier. It was a gift to me as well that I was able to share a meal with him and make his day a little brighter.
Both instances helped me to live out my life’s mission statement, which is to live a joyful abundant life of service and adventure. I felt like I was able to give something to James, and that meeting Tim Ferriss reminded me to live adventurously, just to go for it, and trust that I can create what I want.
Lisa P. Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, TED motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning in their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on her website or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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